Phillies Still Have Payroll Flexibility After Offseason Of Spending Big
The Phillies yesterday officially signed P Jake Arrieta to a 3-year, $75M contract, and it "makes sense to frontload" the dealt -- as well as those of other free agent signees this winter -- because the team has "so few dollars committed" to its '19 payroll, according to Corey Seidman of NBCSPORTSPHILADELPHIA.com. Even after signing Arrieta for $25M per year, 1B Carlos Santana for $20M per year and giving Ps Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter a combined $35M over the next two seasons, the Phillies "still have less" than $70M in "guaranteed commitments" for their '19 payroll. That "doesn't include the raises" for players the Phillies intend to re-sign, but those players' "relative cheapness is what prompted a team that wasn't totally sure what it was going to do this offseason to sign one of the two best starting pitchers on the market." Aside from what Arrieta is "able to contribute on the field this season, his presence on the Phillies will make" someone like Orioles SS Manny Machado "take the Phils more seriously next winter" (NBCSPORTSPHILADELPHIA.com, 3/12). In Philadelphia, Marcus Hayes writes the vibe around the Phillies "feels like it felt 15 years ago," when the team signed 1B Jim Thome. Thanks to Arrieta and Santana, the Phillies have "shown their fans the money." Phillies P Jerad Eickhoff said, “It shows that the turning of the tide is a lot sooner than I think we all thought.” Arrieta is also "good enough to sell tickets, just like Thome did," as the Phillies "haven’t finished higher than seventh-worst in MLB attendance" since '14 (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/13).
READING THE MARKET: USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes the Phillies had the "best winter" of any MLB team, as the team spent $169M on the free-agent market after "five consecutive losing seasons and the notion of the Eagles' grip on the market only growing firmer." The Phillies also "did it without the risk of being stuck with a long, unwieldy contract." The contracts for both Arrieta and Santana "will expire in what would be just the second year of a megadeal for one (or more) of the many superstar players hitting the market next winter" (USA TODAY, 3/13). MLB Network's Kevin Millar said, “Going into this market, you never thought you were going to be able to get Jake Arrieta on a three-year deal, period. I don’t care who you are, you were looking at six, seven, eight. Everybody was talking about huge dollars. ... It changed, and I think that the Phillies got a lucky break with this market and were able to lock down this deal” (“Intentional Talk,” ESPN2, 3/12).