Is Kris Bryant too expensive for the Phillies?
The potential issue with signing Bryant to a lucrative long-term deal is the same as with someone like Kyle Schwarber: according to the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement, the AAV of his contract would contribute a considerable amount to the Phillies’ luxury tax threshold. It remains unclear if this will change in the new CBA currently being negotiated.
If the new CBA keeps AAV as the determining factor in luxury tax allocation, then the Phillies will have some tough decisions to make. They have approximately $30M under the threshold now, and Bowden proposes signing Bryant to a six-year deal for $150M, which would add $25M to their luxury tax payroll for the next six seasons. Overall, it’s significantly more than Schwarber is reportedly seeking – three years, $60M – but the AAV is only $5M higher.
Will the Phillies’ payroll exceed the luxury tax threshold in 2022?
Signing Bryant wouldn’t leave much room under the threshold, which will restrict the Phillies if they keep playing it safe; they’ve never exceeded the luxury tax limits before. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said they were prepared to do so at the trade deadline, but it never came to be.
However, if you’re going to go big, Bryant feels like the free agent to do so for. He brings more to the table than his former Cubs teammate, Schwarber, another Phillies target. Whereas the latter slugs, plays left field, and a smidge of first base (as of 2021), the former also hits, but offers significantly more defensive versatility. So, Bryant has a higher price tag, but the Phillies would presumably get a higher return on investment with him.
From a team chemistry standpoint, Bryant would be a welcome addition, as he and Bryce Harper are longtime friends from growing up in Las Vegas, and are both repped by super-agent Scott Boras. Harper even fueled rumors that the Phillies were acquiring Bryant at the 2021 trade deadline when he was seen using his pal’s bat.
Ultimately, the Phillies have to decide if they want to waste Harper’s immense contract by not building around him, or if they’re going to bite the bullet, throw caution to the wind, and go for someone like Bryant. Bowden seems to be all for it.