How the latest MLB lockout news impacts the Phillies’ free-agent needs
New reports suggest that MLB will table important economic discussions until after new year
Sorry, baseball fans; it looks like Major League Baseball’s heart won’t be growing three sizes this Christmas.
The latest lockout reports say that while the two sides will meet this week, they are tabling the “core economics” discussions until the new year. Of the many Collective Bargaining Agreement issues to be discussed, these are among the most important, especially to the money-hungry ownership side of this battle.
"“Communication on the big-dollar issues remains on hold.”Evan Drellich, The Athletic"
These issues include the competitive balance tax (luxury tax), arbitration, and free agency, all huge issues in the offseason context.
Will the Philadelphia Phillies spend big on free agents after the lockout?
For the Philadelphia Phillies, specifically, it impacts their building plans for 2022 and beyond. Under the now-expired CBA, the luxury tax for each team was calculated based on a player’s contract’s AAV (Average Annual Value). Regardless of how much a player is actually being paid in that season, their average is what matters.
For teams with already-high payrolls like the Phillies, this will impact the free agents they target and sign, namely, slugging outfielders such as Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, and Kris Bryant. Their current payroll as it pertains to the tax is $174.69M, giving them an estimated $35.31M to spend under the threshold.
Schwarber is reportedly seeking a 3-year deal in the $60M ballpark. Under the previous CBA, this would put another $20M on the Phillies luxury tax payroll, regardless of how much they actually paid him per season. If they give Schwarber the deal he wants, it gives them very little room under the threshold to make other necessary upgrades.
Of course, the Phillies could finally throw caution to the wind and exceed the luxury tax for the first time in franchise history. It feels like they need to if they want to compete with the defending-champion Atlanta Braves and the spending-spree New York Mets, not to mention teams outside the NL East.
If the 2021 Phillies team could only finish one game above .500 with the high payroll they had, then, unfortunately, the solution is probably to spend more. Otherwise, with every passing season, the Phils are wasting Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler, and J.T. Realmuto’s greatness, not to mention their own money. They can always make more money, but they can’t turn back the clock on their stars.
When will the MLB lockout end?
Unfortunately for fans, whose vocal disappointment clearly falls on deaf ears, the only thing that will really put pressure on these negotiations is time. The longer a stalemate continues, the closer Spring Training gets, and the two sides will either have to hammer it out, or start wasting game time. But until then, it’s going to be a blue, blue Christmas.