Phillies Spend Over $40mil in First Week of Free Agency

Last week the Philadelphia Phillies were the first team to dip into the free agent market, signing Marlon Byrd to a 2/$16mil contract. Now the Phillies have re-signed catcher Carlos Ruiz to a 3/$26mil deal. That’s 5 years and $42mil to players aged 36 and 34 respectively.

Now, each player on a AAV basis is not getting a lot of money. Byrd is getting $8mil a year and Ruiz is getting slightly more than that. The problem is that an old, mediocre team is giving money and multi-year contracts to old, mediocre players. Steamer projects Marlon Byrd to produce 0.6 fWAR in 2014 and a more respectable but optimistic 3.1 fWAR for Carlos Ruiz. Even worse, in 2015 they will be on the hook for over $16mil between these two and over $8mil in 2016 for a 37 year old catcher.

The real problem I have with these moves is when you frame it this way: the Phillies are shelling out $42mil for two players in their late thirties who are not going to bring a lot of value to the franchise. In 2013 the Phillies payroll was nearly $160mil. So these two players would make up a whopping 25% of that payroll. As of now the Phillies have $104mil in payroll commitments. Add in the $16mil for 2014 they now have to pay for Byrd and Ruiz and those two players currently make up about 33% of the Phillies current payroll. That is not good.

The $42mil should be spent a lot smarter. Use it to keep players through arbitration. Use it to buy younger, cheaper players that may be available. Reinvest in the farm system which has struggled for the Phillies. Do anything but spend it on mediocre players with no value for a projected 2014 Phillies roster.

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