Phillies Facing Bloated Payroll – Forgettable Season

Ryan Howard Philadelphia Phillies NewsBoasting a payroll exceeding $172 million entering the 2012 season, the Philadelphia Phillies expected nothing short of a World Series title. Because of injuries and underperforming core players, the Phillies find themselves in the National League East basement at 45-54 and 14 games out of first place.

In fairness to the Phillies, they spent most of the season without Chase Utley, who returned from the disabled list earlier in July and has played in just 21 games, batting .257. Ryan Howard ruptured his Achilles tendon in the playoffs last October and has played in just 14 games, batting .244 so far.

Ace Roy Halladay spent a long stretch on the DL, too, has returned to make two starts in July. With those three key players missing so much time, Philadelphia has put itself in a deep hole, and the team could be sellers before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Since 28-year-old left-hander Cole Hamels just signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension, some media reports have speculated that the Phillies might trade Cliff Lee. The 33-year-old left-hander, who is 1-6 with a 3.95 ERA in 17 starts this season, is owed $25 million a year from 2013 to 2015 with a club option for $27.5 million in 2016.

That option becomes guaranteed if Lee is not on the disabled list at end of the 2015 season because of an injury to his left elbow or left shoulder, and has 200 innings pitches in 2015 or 400 innings pitched for 2014 and 2015.

Halladay is signed for $20 million in 2013 and a $20 million in 2014 that becomes guaranteed if he logs 225 innings pitched in 2013, 415 innings pitched in 2012 and 2013, and he is not on disabled list at end of 2013 season.

If the Phillies keep Halladay, Lee and Hamels, they will have more than $60 million invested in three pitchers next season. Add Howard’s five-year, $125 million deal  through 2016 (with an option for 2017), Utley’s $15 million salary in 2013 (when his contract expires) and closer Jonathan Papelbon‘s four-year, $50 million deal that was signed last off-season, and that can hamstring Philadelphia’s ability to upgrade its roster.

Media reports indicate that the Phillies could trade shortstop Jimmy Rollins (who is signed through 2014 at $11 million a season with an option for 2015) and outfielder Shane Victorino (whose three-year, $22 million deal ends after this season).

Starting pitcher Joe Blanton and third baseman Placido Polanco (who is currently on the DL) are other costly veterans who could be cut loose if the Phillies can find takers.

 


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