Ahead of Friday afternoon’s deadline to formally exchange salary figures with their arbitration-eligible players, the Phillies settled with three players, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco and Luis Garcia.
Hernandez, in his second year of arbitration, signed for $5.1 million, according to an MLB.com report. Franco, according to a source, will make $2.95 million in 2018. Garcia will receive $1.2 million, according to an NBC Sports Philly report. Both Franco and Garcia were eligible to receive raises through arbitration for the first time.
The Phillies have committed $61.05 million in 2018 payroll, a figure that includes $20 million in signing bonuses to three players. Much of the roster will be populated by younger players making at or near the major-league minimum of $545,000, which will deflate the overall payroll total.
There are different methods for measuring payroll — using accounting methods for luxury-tax purposes, the Phillies are closer to $75 million in current 2018 payroll. Last season, according to figures submitted to the commissioner’s office, the Phillies ranked 22nd in Major League Baseball with a $119.64 million payroll. That was a slight uptick from 2016, when the club ranked 26th at $103.11 million.
The Phillies continue to pursue a starting pitcher, with the preference of acquiring a younger arm with a few years of club control. But they could balk at the price of a trade and instead spend money on a short-term fix. It is unlikely that the top-tier pitchers, Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, will settle for anything less than a four-year contract. If they must drop their asking price in years, the Phillies could become suitors. But that is a long shot. As is adding an arm from the next tier, which is led by Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn.
Hernandez, 27, produced a career-high in on-base percentage (.373) and slugging percentage (.421) last season. He has been available in a trade this offseason, but the Phillies have placed a high asking price on him. The club could face a decision later this season at second base if Scott Kingery continues to rise in the minors.
Franco, 25, disappointed in 2017 with career low figures in on-base and slugging percentage. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak spent much of last season and now this winter reiterating his steadfast faith in Franco’s ability. That patience could erode with another subpar season in 2018.
Garcia, who will turn 31 at the end of the month, went from independent ball in 2012 to millionaire in 2018. He posted a career-best 2.65 ERA in 2017, although he struggled in higher-leverage situations. He could be deployed more in the sixth and seventh innings this season.