For the life of me, I have no idea why this guy chose to ask Joe Morgan this question, but his answer is classic Joe Morgan. From yesterday's ESPN.com chat:
SteveFitz (Cicero, IL)
Joe, is this the offseason where the Phillies have to maybe trade one of its better players due to higher pay raises now or in the near future? Maybe Werth?
Joe Morgan (11:46 AM)
Well if they win another championship, I don't see why you would break them up. Payrolls are not my expertise. I believe that you just go out there to try and win. If you have the winning combination there, you keep them together. I saw the team I was on, the Reds, we won two straight championships and if we had stayed together, we would have won three straight. If you take one player away, you disrupt it and then you don't know what you're going to get.
ESPN describes Joe Morgan as a "baseball analyst," which, as a baseball fan, I would hope signals that he knows at least the basics of team payrolls, contracts, etc.
So since Joe Morgan failed to answer your question, SteveFitz, I'll take a stab at it even though ESPN never gave me the fancy title of baseball analyst:
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Phillies are already committed to $108 million dollars in payroll next season even though they only have 11 players under contract right now. In addition, both Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino are due raises in arbitration this winter. There are also several other important players, who are under contract with the Phillies, but are not yet eligible for arbitration (Happ, Ruiz, Kendrick, Francisco). Hence, none of those guys are eligible for big raises next season.
Let's deal with the two guys, who are due raises: Victorino and Blanton. Victorino is the heart and soul of the Phillies and it would be absolutely crushing for the fans if the Phillies dealt him. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Phillies lock up Victorino long term if the opportunity presents itself. If the Phillies and Victorino go to arbitration, I'd expect Victorino to earn somewhere in the range of $5-$6 million, which is a nice raise for him, but a price that the Phillies should gladly pay. As for Blanton, I'd expect him to earn roughly $6 million next season after arbitration, which is a pretty good price for a middle of the rotation starter. In fact, if the Phillies did look to move anyone, I'd put my money on Blanton, a free agent to be after 2010.
So when you take into account the price of the Phillies arbitration eligibles (roughly $4 million), one would have to think that the Phillies would still have some change left over to deal with the rest of the team (assuming their payroll is between $110-$120 million). Sure they will have a number of holes to fill (3rd base, bullpen), but the cost of filling those holes should not force the Phillies into dealing.
As for Jayson Werth, he is signed through 2010 for $7.5 million and then he will be a free agent. I'd expect the Phillies to at least explore the possibility of extending Werth this offseason...if he's not too expensive. The Phillies might pay the price for their success after 2010 if Werth chooses to bolt for the money.
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