MLB Franchise Notes: Teams Faced With Staying Below Luxury Tax
In Philadelphia, Scott Lauber noted the Phillies last winter "got everyone's attention" by spending $403M on free agents, and rival team officials "expect them to be aggressive again this offseason." The Phillies have approximately $116M committed to nine players in '20, and that is "before annual raises for as many as nine players who are eligible for arbitration and a possible nine-figure contract extension" for C J.T. Realmuto. But given that the luxury-tax threshold will be $208M, money "doesn't figure to be much of an issue if the Phillies pursue big-ticket free agents." Asked last month if ownership would consider exceeding the tax, Phillies Managing Partner John Middleton "didn't rule it out" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/11).
STAYING THE COURSE? On Long Island, Tim Healey writes the Mets have a "habit of not jumping into the deep end" when it comes to big free agents, and Exec VP & GM Brodie Van Wagenen has "given no indication that that will change in the coming months." Van Wagenen "declined to say" whether he has discussed with team COO Jeff Wilpon his "willingness to surpass the luxury-tax threshold." The Mets already have an estimated '20 payroll of $187.7M (NEWSDAY, 11/12). Meanwhile, MLB Network's Chris Russo identified Van Wagenen as one of several GMs under pressure this offseason, though he said, "I don't think the owner, who went out of the box to hire him to begin with, will let him go after two years" ("High Heat," MLB Network, 11/11).
TIME TO SPEND: In California, Jeff Fletcher notes Angels Owner Arte Moreno has "indicated that the payroll will go up, although it remains to be seen how much." The Angels figure to have at least $30M to spend on free agents, "plus whatever increase Moreno makes available." Given his "frustration with the team's performance after last year's deals, it's reasonable to suspect that Moreno may be willing to open his wallet a little more to acquire a higher caliber of player" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 11/12).