LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Phillies, long wary of paying luxury tax, can raise their payroll in 2014 because Major League Baseball's minimum threshold for being taxed rises by $11 million. But general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. expects his payroll to remain at the same level from 2013.
The Phillies finished the season with roughly $165 million in payroll. The luxury tax limit was $178 million in 2013 and will be at $189 million in 2014.
"We should be contending with this kind of payroll, at $165 or $170 million, wherever it shakes out to be," Amaro said. "I think we have some flexibility to add. A lot of it depends on what makes sense for us."
The Phillies have committed about $140 million to 12 players under contract. Their four arbitration players should add another $12 million in salary, although John Mayberry Jr. is a trade candidate. The rest of the roster could be filled by players making near the league minimum of $500,000.
That leaves approximately $10 to $15 million in 2014 salary to be spent on improving the starting rotation.
The market for starting pitchers is expensive, and the Phillies have a need for a No. 3 starter. Amaro said he believes the right pitcher can be had for a contract of no more than three years.
"There's a lot of pretty good ones," Amaro said. "It's just a matter of trying to match up what we're able to do and what we want to do. The asks are astronomical right now. Rightfully so, because we've seen the market do some crazy things. We'll see."