Up until now, the Philadelphia Phillies have never had to pay a “Competitive Balance Tax,” the term used for the luxury tax that has been in place in Major League Baseball since 1997.
They fell just $4 million short of the threshold in 2012.
This coming year, the Phillies will come dangerously close to the $178 million threshold once again. But that may not stop general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. from climbing above it if the right opportunity were to arise.
"I haven't been given any ultimatums as far as [the luxury tax] is concerned, but there is a limit to where we want to be right now," Amaro said. "I also think it's important to give ourselves a little flexibility for the trade deadline in case we want to do some things there, too. Not just dollar-wise, but personnel-wise, too. We're looking at all possibilities to improve the club, and if we can do it and we think it's the right thing to do, we'll move on it."
However, does it makes sense to do so unless it guarantees a postseason berth?
The Phillies and their $174 million payroll last season fell far short. Their abundance of $20 million-plus players are another year older.
With the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves continuing to improve and staying well below the tax threshold, the Phillies should do what they can to avoid crossing that line.
Picking up young players under team control like center fielder Ben Revere is a smarter play at this point.