UPDATED, 5:58 p.m -- The Phillies currently have $120.95 million guaranteed to 11 players for 2012. If they fill four of their remaining bullpen openings with young players making $450,000 or under (Bastardo, Stutes, Herndon, Savery, for example), that will leave them with right around $123 million committed to 15 players. Hunter Pence and Cole Hamels should earn around $25 million combined, which bumps the payroll up to $148 million for 17 players. Pencil in Vance Worley at No. 5 starter and John Mayberry Jr. either in left field or on the bench, and you are at about $148.9 million for 19 players. If their payroll sits between $175 million and $180 million, a range comparable to last season, that woudl give them between $26 and $31 million to fill six remaining spots: Short stop, left field, back-up catcher, and either three more bench players or two bench players and a reliever.
So the Phillies clearly have some flexibility to add one or even two more siginifcant salaries for 2012. Say, $10 million for Rollins, $10 million for Cuddyer, and then $1.5 million for each bench player or reliever.
The math makes sense to me.
EARLIER. . .
Ruben Amaro Jr. downplayed the notion that the $12.5 million per year that he will pay Jonathan Papelbon over the next four seasons will limit his ability to fill some other holes on the Phillies' roster.
Chiefly, Amaro said that the Phillies still have enough payroll flexibility to re-sign Jimmy Rollins, although he did not characterize negotiations between the two sides.
"We have some flexibility still," Amaro said at a press conference at Citizens Bank Park today. "Obviously short stop is a position we'd like to shore up. I've been pretty open and public about what we're trying to do to move forward as far as Jimmy is concerned. Hopefully we can take care of that business in the short term. I'm not sure the timetable that is going to take, but we have some things (we want to do) and the flexibility to do it."
Not in those plans is another reliever. At least that is the impression Amaro gave when asked if he was confident enough in his young relievers to back up Papelbon. At the moment, lefty Antonio Bastardo would be the primary eight-inning set-up man, followed by veteran righthander Jose Contreras and second-year righthander Mike Stutes. Contreras is recovering from elbow surgery, but Amaro gave a positive report, saying he is scheduled to begin throwing in early January.
A healthy Contreras would seem to solidify the bullpen, giving the Phillies a lefty/righty set-up combination, plus a strikeout arm in Stutes to handle a role similar to the one that Chad Durbin filled for three seasons. The Phillies have a handful of young arms who will be competing for roster spots in spring training, including righthanders Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus, both of whom could project as closer/set-up types down the road. The Phillies could also find a lefty specialist from inside the organization, where Joe Savery and Jacob Diekman have some potential.
Along with David Herndon, Michael Schwimer and possibly Kyle Kendrick, the Phillies apparently feel they have enough young options to start the season. Keep in mind, veteran relievers are always available around the trade deadline.
Beyond short stop, the Phillies could look to bring in an outfielder or third baseman -- or a player capable of playing both positions -- to compete with John Mayberry Jr. for playing time in left field. Jim Thome is the only player under contract on the bench. The Phillies recently hosted Michael Cuddyer, but it remains to be seen if the two sides can match up on a deal.
"A lot of it kind of depends on what happens with Jimmy," Amaro said. "To answer your question, we do have the flexibility. A lot of it depends on whether we can get to terms. We have some flexibility to do some things still, and hopefully we'll put the right pieces of the puzzle together."