Nick Castellanos’ deal with the Phillies is the first of its kind
From now until the end of time, Nick Castellanos will be remembered as the first player whom the Philadelphia Phillies deemed worthy of exceeding the Competitive Balance Threshold – also known as the luxury tax – to sign.
And he didn’t just break the mold; the Phillies absolutely shattered it by offering him a five-year, $100M deal. They’re approximately $10M over the $230M threshold now and will pay a 20% tax as punishment.
Between the contract itself, and the tax, this makes Castellanos one of the biggest free-agent signings of the offseason.
The Phillies ownership, led by managing partner John Middleton, has claimed for a long time that they’d be willing to go over the threshold for a worthy cause. The concept of “worthy” seemed purposefully vague and murky enough to keep the Phillies under the tax since its inception in 1997. That they’re willing to do so for Castellanos is quite a strong endorsement of the slugger.
However, Phillies president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, has had a close eye on Castellanos for many years. He drafted him to the Detroit Tigers when he was their GM, and refused to trade him at least once, seeing his value. Dombrowski has a habit of bringing high-value, favored players with him from one organization to the next: JD Martinez, Doug Fister, David Price, and Rick Porcello were all Tigers who became Red Sox. He’s now done the same with Castellanos.
Of course, the Phillies have approximately $70M worth of contracts coming off the books after this season, at which time they will slide comfortably under the luxury tax once again. But fans are encouraged, jubilant even, that their favorite team finally willing to spend to contend.
2022 will be the Phillies’ 140th season, but their first time exceeding the threshold. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?