A Clean Slate

According to the new collective bargaining agreement signed before this season by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, the minimum major league salary for 2018 will increase to $545,000 from $535,000.  This means that the minimum, opening day salary level for any major league team would be $13,625,000 ($545,000 x 25 players).

The 2018 Phillies opening day payroll, as it stands now, is $16,430,000. Yes, that’s right – as of today, the Phillies payroll on the first day of the 2018 season would be the minimum salary of $545,000 to 24 players, plus the only major league contract guaranteed for next season, which at $3,350,000, belongs to Odubel Herrera.

According to Forbes, the Phillies are the 9th most valuable major league team with a valuation of $1.65 billion. The team signed a 25-year, $2.5 billion TV deal with Comcast SportsNet before the 2014 season, providing an annual average revenue stream of $100,000,000.  According to Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/mlb-valuations/list/#tab:overall), the Phillies were also the most profitable team in the major leagues last season with a net income of $87.7 million. They out earned even the World Series champion Cubs (#2 in MLB profits last year) by $4 million.

What does this mean for a rebuilding, large market team like the Phillies?  I would say that the Phillies are several things right now: young, getting better, and rich with plenty of money to spend.

After several seasons of older, bloated contracts, the Phillies brass has spent the last several years trading away more expensive talent (Hamels, Utley, Rollins) or allowing those contracts to expire (Howard).  Veteran players (Hellickson, Kendrick, etc) have been brought in on one-year deals to offer some veteran presence and provide some stability to the pitching staff or lineup. Those types of players end up traded away mid-season for even more prospects. All of this has been done in an attempt to rebuild a depleted minor league system and reduce payroll to a point where they can begin spending when the time is right to do so.

With a payroll of only $16,430,000, the Phillies have a lot of room to begin moving into another stage of the rebuilding process, which includes a firmer idea of which young players are the future, which are not, and which veterans on the free agent market can complement the core group of homegrown talent.  Staring into the abyss of a 100-loss season, and the 5th straight sub .500 season, Phillies fans finally feel as though they are waking to see the sun.  Will 2018 be the first of many seasons where this young core of players begin to produce wins, and the Phillies start to act like the large market, large revenue team they are?

As 76ers fans can attest, “trusting the process” can test the patience of even the most die-hard fan.  If Job were a sports fan, he would probably live in Philadelphia. Things are looking up, and it should be an interesting winter as this team takes shape for 2018.

Photo credit: Jong Kim, Staff Photographer, Philly.com

Follow me on Twitter @jasphil

Jason Phillips

Baseball writer for SportsArePhilly.com. You can follow me on Twitter @jasphil

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