Happy Friday. Thought I'd drop in for a quick update on the Phillies payroll as February appears on the horizon.
Currently, the Phillies have $161.2 million guaranteed to 19 players. This does not include the salaries for arbitration-eligible players Kyle Kendrick or Ben Francisco, or a salary for utility man Wilson Valdez, whom the club has control of and has the inside track on the fifth and final bench spot.
Including Francisco, the Phillies have 20 players who, barring injury, are locks to be on the Opening Day roster.
That leaves five open spots, likely for a couple of relievers, one reserve/platoon/rotational outfielder, and two other bench players. Wilson Valdez, last year's utility man, has the inside track on one of these bench roles.
A few observations before we detail the payroll
1) Francisco should earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.25 million this year in his first year of arbitration. Kendrick should earn somewhere around $2.0 million. Even with those salaries, the Phillies would sit well below the 2011 luxury tax threshold of $178 million, after which they would be charged 30 percent for any additional spending. But they are a lot closer to that barrier than anybody would have thought a few years ago.
2) I still expect the Phillies to carry seven relievers, despite the addition of Cliff Lee to the rotation. I just think that the benefit an extra reliever brings always out-weighs the benefit of an extra bench player. That means the Phillies have two open bullpen spots, assuming they don't end up re-signing Chad Durbin. That will be one of the more interesting plot lines to monitor during spring training, given the number of young minor league arms who will be present in camp. At this point, you have to figure Antonio Bastardo has the inside track on one of those spots. This might be the season where the Phillies decide to turn him loose and see whether he can handle being an important member of a big league bullpen. As a 24-year-old last season he struck out 12.5 batters-per-nine and posted a 4.34 ERA in 25 appearances, but struggled at times with his command (4.3 walks-per-nine), and posted a WHIP of 1.500.
Behind Bastardo, David Herndon will get a chance to make the Opening Day roster for a second straight year, although the Phillies have options on him and they could decide to start him in the minors to allow him to continue to develop his slider.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Vance Worley get a look as a reliever, although if Joe Blanton ends up getting traded, I wouldn't be surprised to see Worley get a serious chance to push Kyle Kendrick at the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Worley and Kendrick should be two of the more intriguing players to watch this spring.
3) I still would not rule out the Phillies landing another outfielder to add to the mix. Lost in the hullabaloo about Cliff Lee is the fact that offense was their Achilles heel last season, and that they still need to replace their top offensive performer from last season. Ben Francisco has earned a shot, and should get a shot, but he represents a huge leap of faith for a team that was already short on right-handed power. Wilson Valdez looks to have the inside track for the utlity role he filled last season, but that still leaves two open spots on the bench. Delwyn Young, who is a career .271 pinch-hitter, could end up filling the role that Greg Dobbs played the past few seasons. But the switch-hitter has a .710 OPS against lefties and .708 agaist lefties and has a .393 slugging percentage in his big league career. So it's hard to imagine him joining the outfield rotation on a consistent basis.
Domonic Brown will get a shot in spring training. But I think if the Phillies had their druthers, they'd have him playing every day in the minors rather than part-time in the majors.
There are still some outfielders available: the Phillies had some interest in Andruw Jones a couple offseasons ago, and Marcus Thames has had some success against lefties, although he might be more of a DH type. And we'd be negligent if we did not point out that Manny Ramirez is still available.
That said, all of those players could be out of the Phillies price range, which means a guy like John Mayberry Jr. could end up getting a serious look in spring training.
Anyway, without further adieu:
The 2011 Payroll
1. Jimmy Rollins - $8.5 million
2. Placido Polanco - $5.25 million
3. Chase Utley - $15 million
4. Ryan Howard - $20 million
5. Ben Francisco - Arbitration
6. Raul Ibanez - $11.5 million
7. Shane Victorino - $7.5 million
8. Carlos Ruiz - $2.75 million
TOTAL: 8 players, $70.5 million
1. Roy Halladay - $20.0 million
2. Cliff Lee - $11.0 million
3. Roy Oswalt - $16.0 million
4. Cole Hamels - $9.5 million
5. Joe Blanton - $8.5 million
TOTAL: 5 players, $65 million
1. Brad Lidge - $11.5 million
2. Ryan Madson - $4.5 million
3. Jose Contreras - $2.5 million
4. J.C. Romero - $1.35 million
5. Danys Baez - $2.75 million
TOTAL: 5 players, $22.6 million
1. Ross Gload - $1.6 million
2. Brian Schneider - $1.5 million
TOTAL: 2 players, $3.1 million
OVERALL TOTAL: 19 players, $161.2 million, not including Ben Francisco, Wilson Valdez or Kyle Kendrick.