If you thought the Phillies already had a lot of money, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Why? According to a new report by Yahoo! Sports baseball writer Jeff Passan, the Phils are next in line to score a huge payday on their next local cable TV deal.
You can just picture Ruben Amaro in a few years sitting in his gold-plated office, his rocket-fueled car resting comfortably in the parking garage he had constructed just for himself, lighting Cuban cigars with $100 bills as he plans which baseball superstar he’s going to add to his $300 million payroll.
It’s so beautiful, it brings a tear to one’s eye.
Comcast is a Philadelphia-based company. It does not want to lose the rights of the team that from 2009-11 ranked among the three highest local baseball broadcasts. Problem is, Fox Sports, which has scooped up local rights to about half of baseball, wants to further its grip on the sport in anticipation of Fox Sports 1, the all-day sports channel expected to launch in August.
“And they want Philadelphia,” one source with knowledge of Fox’s plans said. “They got the Yankees [by buying a share of the YES Network], which helps. They’re not going to have the Red Sox. They’re not going to have the Mets. They want another East Coast team.”
“And they want Philadelphia.” That’s not a sentence you see written very often, huh?
Whatever you may think of the current state of the team, make no mistake. The Phils are now a marquee franchise in Major League Baseball. That’s a concept that seemed inconceivable back in 1996 when the Phils were trying to put lipstick on the pig that was Veterans Stadium and were running Sid Fernandez out as the Opening Day starter.
Times are very different now.
If Comcast and Fox Sports get into a bidding war, the Phils could be looking at a local cable deal that either matches or surpasses the insane $7 billion the Dodgers got last year.
All those silent owners on the Phils are about to go from “really rich” to “so rich you need to invent a new word to describe how rich they are.”
With that kind of money, the luxury tax should no longer be an issue. There should be very few constraints on payroll.
Now, that doesn’t mean the Phils should sign every Tom, Dick and Harry to play baseball for them. It will still be important to target players who will bring good value to the team. No matter how much money he may have at his disposal, Amaro should not sign one-dimensional, aging players who will only hurt the product on the field.
The Phillies probably should avoid the formula of the Dodgers, which was to acquire every expensive player on another team’s failing roster, thinking that just because those players were wearing different laundry that the results would be different.
Having a poop-ton of money doesn’t mean Amaro shouldn’t try to be as smart as he can be when constructing his roster.
Will the local cable TV bubble burst at some point? There’s no doubt the landscape of TV viewing is changing. It seems likely that at some point in the next decade or so, the way people consume cable TV is going to change drastically. How that will affect deals like the ones the Rangers and Dodgers have recently agreed to, or the one the Phils will agree to at the end of the 2015 season, is unknown.
But until that happens, as Passan notes, the Phils are next in line for their huge payday.
That means the Phillies should never have to worry about money being a stumbling block ever again.
And that’s good. You know… one less thing.