Welcome to Day 3 of Kapler Watch.
The last game of the Phillies season ended at 5:55 p.m. Sunday. It’s now Wednesday morning. And still, we are waiting for white smoke to rise from 1 Citizens Bank Way and the team to announce that it has decided on a manager for the 2020 season.
Maybe it will be Gabe Kapler, after all. Or maybe owner John Middleton has seen enough after Kapler steered the Phillies to a 161-163 record over the last two seasons and will direct general manager Matt Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail to pursue Joe Maddon or Joe Girardi or Buck Showalter or someone else.
A resolution likely will come today. It’s the last day before the beginning of the divisional round of the playoffs, and Major League Baseball usually frowns on teams making news that might take attention away from postseason games.
So, keep an eye out for that white smoke — or, you know, just refresh inquirer.com all day long for the latest news and updates.
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Moneyball: An early look at the Phillies’ 2020 payroll
The postseason began last night, with the Nationals coming back to defeat the Brewers, 4-3, in the NL wild-card game.
For the Phillies, though, it meant only that the hot stove is one day closer to being cranked up.
Once again, the Phillies will face a critical offseason. They must find a top-of-the-rotation starter to pair with Aaron Nola, rebuild the bullpen, fill a hole at third base, and decide what to do about center field. But before we sift through free agents in whom they might be interested — Gerrit Cole? Anthony Rendon? Cole Hamels? Zack Wheeler? — it’s helpful to know how much money they have to spend.
Here, then, is a look at how the payroll is shaping up. (Note: All salary figures are calculated for luxury-tax purposes and therefore based on average annual value rather than actual 2020 compensation.)
Under contract: Bryce Harper ($25.385 million), Jake Arrieta ($25M), Andrew McCutchen ($16.667M), Jean Segura ($14M), Jay Bruce ($13M; $11.625M paid by Seattle), David Robertson ($11.5M), Aaron Nola ($11.25M), Odubel Herrera ($6.1M), Scott Kingery ($4M).
Club options: Jason Vargas ($8 million or $2 million buyout), Pat Neshek ($7 million or $750,000 buyout), Jared Hughes ($3 million or $250,000 buyout).
Arbitration-eligible (2019 salary): Cesar Hernandez ($7.75 million), J.T. Realmuto ($5.9M), Maikel Franco ($5.2M), Vince Velasquez ($2.249M), Jose Alvarez ($1.925M), Hector Neris ($1.8M), Adam Morgan ($1.1M), Zach Eflin ($590,000), Jerad Eickhoff ($975,000), Andrew Knapp ($565,000), Edubray Ramos ($573,500), Phil Gosselin ($1M), Mike Morin ($700,000), Jose Pirela ($575,100).
Pre-arbitration (all 2019 big-league salaries were between $500,000 and $600,000): Nick Pivetta, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Seranthony Dominguez, Roman Quinn, Adam Haseley, Victor Arano, Ranger Suarez, Austin Davis, Enyel De Los Santos, Edgar Garcia, Cole Irvin, Deivy Grullon, J.D. Hammer.
Free agents: Juan Nicasio, Tommy Hunter, Corey Dickerson, Drew Smyly, Sean Rodriguez, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Nick Vincent.
OK, so the Phillies have approximately $115 million committed to nine players, including Herrera, who will return from his 85-game suspension for violating baseball’s domestic-violence policy. Assuming they buy out the options for Vargas, Neshek and Hughes, the tally will rise to approximately $118 million.
The Phillies almost definitely will trade or non-tender Franco. Hernandez is also a trade candidate. So, too, is Herrera, one would imagine. But Realmuto is in line to more than double his annual salary through arbitration or a contract extension.
Add in raises for Neris, Eflin, Alvarez, Morgan, probably Velasquez, Hoskins and others, and the tab could reach roughly $150 million.
That would leave the Phillies approximately $58 million below the $208 million competitive-balance threshold. Cole, a Scott Boras client, figures to be their priority. The 29-year-old right-hander likely will be looking to top Zack Greinke’s $32.5 million annual salary and/or David Price’s $217 million overall number, both records for free-agent pitchers.
Based on an early look at the payroll, the Phillies should be able to afford that and still add a few other pieces while remaining below the CBT.
So, what’s taking so long to decide Gabe Kapler’s fate? I presented a few theories, including one that you probably hadn’t thought of.
Kapler’s future is undoubtedly in the hands of owner John Middleton, as Matt Breen wrote this week.
Want more Kapler? OK, here’s my take on whether the manager was dealt a fair hand this season by general manager Matt Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail.
The Phillies intend to extend the safety netting at Citizens Bank Park, as Rob Tornoe writes.
Tonight: Rays at A’s in AL wild-card game, 8:09 p.m.
Oct. 22: Game 1 of the World Series.
Dec. 9-12: Winter meetings in San Diego.
Feb. 22: Phillies vs. Tigers in spring-training opener, 1:05 p.m.
March 26: Opening Day. Phillies at Marlins, 4:05 p.m.
Stat of the day
In case you missed this from last week, Bryce Harper’s jersey was the second-highest seller this season, according to a joint announcement by Major League Baseball and the players’ union.
The only jersey that sold better than Harper’s No. 3 with the Phillies was Yankees slugger Aaron Judge’s No. 99. Rounding out the top 10: Cody Bellinger (Dodgers), Javier Baez (Cubs), Christian Yelich (Brewers), Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves), Mookie Betts (Red Sox), Jose Altuve (Astros), Mike Trout (Angels) and Anthony Rizzo (Cubs).
But here’s what I would like to know: How many of those Phanatic bandannas did the Phillies sell after Harper began wearing it in July? Judging from what I saw around the ballpark during the final week of the season, they looked like a hot commodity.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Question: Hi Scott. Thanks for a fine season of Phillies coverage. Would it be possible to publish a list of every major-league team’s injuries for the year to compare them with the Phillies’ situation? Seems like injuries are mentioned in nearly every recap and column about this season. Take care.
— Lee D., via email
Answer: Hey, Lee. Thanks for the note. Glad you enjoyed the coverage. We’re going to keep it coming all offseason, too, in The Inquirer and at inquirer.com. Oh, and I love your question. For all the talk about the Phillies’ injury epidemic, it’s rarely framed within the context of the rest of the league.
In all, the Phillies had 22 players make a total of 31 stints on the injured list. That’s a lot. But according to the handy injury tracker at Spotrac.com, they were tied with the Mets for only the sixth-most players on the IL, trailing the Yankees (30), Pirates (27), Angels (26), Rays (24) and Dodgers (23). The Phillies ranked fourth in man games lost to injury with 1,635, behind the Yankees (2,630), Padres (2,075) and Pirates (1,868).
So, no, the Phillies weren’t alone. But team officials argue that the injuries were particularly damaging because they were concentrated in one area: the bullpen. The Phils led the majors with 979 man games lost by relievers. Tommy Hunter, David Robertson, Victor Arano, Adam Morgan, Seranthony Dominguez and Pat Neshek suffered season-ending injuries, forcing the club to rebuild its bullpen on the fly midway through the season.