Payroll: Why Phils Couldn't Risk Arbitration

The Phillies remain interested in re-signing Jamie Moyer, and possibly in re-signing Pat Burrell. The problem is making the numbers work, so let's dig into those numbers that will shape the 2009 Phillies.

Last season, Pat Burrell made $14.25 million and Jamie Moyer - thanks to incentives - made just over $7 million. Both had good enough seasons that had either accepted arbitration, they would have received a raise. For Moyer, the raise might have been substantial. While the Phillies certainly aren't broke, they don't have a lot of money to throw around and they are facing ten arbitration cases this winter, so potentially adding Moyer and/or Burrell to that list just didn't fit the budget.

With the players not eligible for arbitration - Adam Eaton, Chris Coste, Scott Eyre, Pedro Feliz, J.A. Happ, Geoff Jenkins, Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge, Brett Myers, Jimmy Rollins, J.C. Romero, Carlos Ruiz, Matt Stairs, and Chase Utley - the Phillies have about $71 million in payroll, depending on what amount they renew some of the players at for the 2009 season.

The ten arbitration eligible players made $20.14 million in 2008 and raises for those players - Joe Blanton, Eric Bruntlett, Clay Condrey, Greg Dobbs, Chad Durbin, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth - could double that commitment and possibly even add a few million more to the bottom line. Hamels himself is due a huge raise and Howard, Madson, Victorino and Werth could also receive hefty paydays too, thanks to arbitration.

When you add the numbers, the Phillies will likely have approximately $111.0 million committed for 2009, a decent bump over their $98 million payroll that started the 2008 season.

Arbitration with Burrell and Moyer would have likely netted Burrell approximately $15 million and Moyer another $9 million, which would have potentially put the Phillies payroll at $135 million.

While the Phillies haven't publicly set a payroll number, it's estimated that they would like to come in at no more than $130 million and possibly, stay a little under that. Minor cuts could come from non-tendering Eric Bruntlett and Clay Condrey, but that would likely save only about $1.5 million when you consider that the Phillies would have to replace them with players making at least the major league minimum of $0.4 million.

It's likely that the Phillies may have enough money to sign Moyer for something around $7 million and then decide on how much money they want to allocate, and to whom, to fill the hole in left field. That would give them, at most, $12 million to re-sign Burrell.

Since the Phillies can likely accomplish what they set out to do this off-season and still come in under their perceived budget number, it will be interesting to see if they will simply cut ties with Adam Eaton and swallow the $8.5 million that he's owed in 2009 and the $0.5 million buyout that they would need to take care of after the season. That's a big chunk of money to chew on, but if it ultimately makes the team better, they may be better off swallowing hard.

If Moyer doesn't re-sign, the Phillies may need most of their remaining budget to sign one of the free agent pitchers that they're interested in bringing on board, namely A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe. Both were offered arbitration, meaning that besides requiring a large financial investment, the Phillies would also lose their first round draft pick for signing either pitcher. One theory was that they would do that if they were assured of getting another first rounder in return, but that plan went out the window when neither Moyer or Burrell were offered arbitration.

The fact that neither Moyer or Burrell will require compensation if they sign elsewhere just made both of them a lot more desirable to other teams. And since the demand for them just went up, it's likely that the price will soon follow.

And we wondered why the Phillies were raising ticket prices?

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