How Scott Kingery is hurting the Phillies without even playing

It’s hard to tell what’s worse, Scott Kingery playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, or him not playing.

That’s how bad his 2021 was.

Over 15 games at the big-league level, Kingery hit – if you can call it that – .053/.053/.053 with a .105 OPS. He went 1-for-19, struck out 12 times, and didn’t draw a single walk.

The struggling utility player didn’t even begin the season at the big-league level, and the Phillies were reluctant to bring him up, but injuries and COVID protocols gave them no choice. Less than a month after they brought him up, the Phillies attempted to place Kingery on waivers. By early June, they designated him for assignment.

Kingery cleared waivers, was outrighted off the 40-man roster, and was assigned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. By mid-July, shoulder surgery ended his season. The whole ordeal was one of many Phillies debacles in 2021.

Scott Kingery is costing the Phillies money towards the luxury tax threshold

But here’s the thing about Kingery, he’s costing the Phillies either way. As Matt Gelb of The Athletic notes, despite being off the 40-man, the $4M average annual value of Kingery’s contract counts toward their luxury tax payroll, giving them even less flexibility under the threshold. Gelb estimates that the Phillies have $30M to spend, unless they finally plan on exceeding the luxury tax threshold, something they’ve never done before.

The ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations will decide many things, including how player contracts count towards the luxury tax. Under the previous CBA, which expired on December 1, 2021, AAV (average annual value) counted towards a team’s luxury tax payroll. It’s a key issue for the Phillies this offseason, given how little space they have under the threshold.

Can new Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long fix Scott Kingery and Alec Bohm?

The only positive thing to note in this mess is that since Kingery isn’t on the 40-man, he can work with new Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long. Long made headlines in 2021 as the man behind Kyle Schwarber’s fearsome swing, and the Phillies want – nay need – him to fix quite a few of their hitters, including Kingery and Alec Bohm.

Hopefully, Long will find a way to unlock the potential that inspired the Phillies to give Kingery this contract in 2018, before he’d ever played a big-league game.