Regardless of how the Phillies' season ends—whether they finish off this miraculous run or they go home when the regular season ends—Ruben Amaro and company have a lot of work to do.
They need to find solutions for the outfield, at third base and in the bullpen.
The Phillies currently have almost $134 million in guaranteed contracts to nine players (or at least their average annual value, the only number that matters when calculating the luxury tax) for 2013.
With only a few arbitration-eligible candidates—Nate Schierholtz being the most significant—the total cost of payroll for players currently on their roster should not exceed $150 million. Factoring in the Phillies’ share of MLB’s medical and benefits plan of around $10-$12 million, their starting budget becomes about $162 million.
With the luxury tax threshold remaining steady at $178 million, the Phillies will likely have less than $20 million to spend in the free-agent market if they are to avoid paying it once again. However, with the tax increasing to $189 million for the 2014 season, the Phillies ownership group may decide to spend extra money in 2013 with the knowledge they’ll get back under the tax threshold in 2014.
That is not something any of us fans, nor reporters, have a true grasp on, and until it happens one way or the other it is pure speculation. If the Phillies decide to exceed the tax threshold in 2013 it could give them the flexibility of spending upwards of $30 million in the free-agent marketplace.
Considering all options, this is what I see the Phillies doing in their offseason to rebuild the club for the 2013 season.