Grading the Phillies’ Cristopher Sánchez extension

The newly-signed team-friendly deal, that will keep the lefty in Philly for at least four more years, is a win-win for the team and the player.
San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies
San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

When news of Cristopher Sánchez's contract extension broke last Saturday, the realization set in that four of the five members of the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation were now under contract until the 2027 season. In the span of seven months, Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies front office were able to put pen to paper with Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and now Sánchez.

While the Phillies are reportedly hard at work on extending Ranger Suárez, reaching a deal with Sánchez is a win-win for the player and the Phillies organization. The Phillies didn't have to make this extension happen.

Grading the Phillies’ Cristopher Sánchez extension

Sánchez is in the midst of a breakout season that should see him eclipse previous career highs in wins, strikeouts, ERA, and starts; the front office very well could have gone year to year with Sánchez through arbitration until he hits free agency in 2029.

Understanding that Sánchez's future cost could go in any direction through that process, the Phillies opted to compensate Sánchez fairly ahead of those arbitration years, rewarding the player for his breakout while keeping the future payroll flexibility front and center as part of the deal. Let's breakdown further how extending Sánchez benefits the player and the organization.

Breaking down the Sánchez extension by the numbers

Sánchez's extension is beneficial to both the team and the player. Before we dive into a few of the reasons why both sides look like winners in this deal, let's look at the details of the $22.5 million contract.

The Phillies paid Sánchez a $2 million signing bonus ahead of the future compensation that will take effect starting in 2025. With Sánchez earning a modest $754,000 this season, the new deal will see Sánchez's salary climb incrementally over the next four seasons with all of that money guaranteed. Terms of the guaranteed part of the deal break down like this: $1.5 million in 2025, $3 million in 2026, $6 million in 2027 and $9 million in 2028.

With the Phillies buying out four years of arbitration, Sánchez will earn a decent raise each season until the Phillies will once again be forced to reach a decision on his future in 2029. In the event that Sánchez pitches well over the life of the guaranteed portion of his contract, the Phillies hold two team options for 2029 and 2030 valued at $14 million and $16 million, with each carrying a $1 million buyout.

This all equates to a team-friendly deal that gives the Phillies a whole lot of control at the end of those four seasons, with future performance being the deciding factor if the non-guaranteed final two seasons at higher salaries will be a cost the Phillies will be willing to absorb.

Cristopher Sánchez gets paid

When the Phillies made a minor trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in November 2019, sending Tampa Curtis Mead for Sánchez, few would have predicted that the 22-year-old minor league pitcher would become an impact arm for the organization well into the following decade. It's proof that sometimes even minor trades net unexpected results.

Since making his debut with the Phillies in 2021 with a seven-game cup of coffee, Sánchez has emerged as a vital contributor on the mound over the last two seasons, making the jump from a bullpen arm/spot starter to pitching his way into a permanent role in the rotation last summer.

In three MLB seasons, Sánchez has produced a record of 11-10 in 56 games (37 starts), in addition to a 3.62 ERA with 214 strikeouts in 236 1/3 innings pitched. This season, Sánchez is 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA, with 70 strikeouts in 84 1/3 innings. Nearly three months in, all signs point to Sánchez being the best No. 4 starter in the majors.

For Sánchez, the benefits are obvious. He earns a nice raise over the next four seasons with a chance to earn a much higher salary with two team options worth $14 million (2029) and $15 million (2030). Job security should help ease some of the confidence issues Sánchez has endured since making his debut, and now he can settle in and continue working on his craft in one of the best rotations in baseball.

Phillies invest in the rotation and keep costs controlled

The Phillies currently have the fourth-highest payroll in MLB, with overall salaries totaling an estimated $245,356,363 in 2024 and expected to be higher by season's end. The ownership group's willingness to invest in All-Star caliber players year in and year out is one reason this team has been on a dominant run over the last two seasons.

The Phillies will have to find ways to keep costs down in the future with luxury tax penalties a near certainty, a group of young position players heading to arbitration, and future decisions on impending free agents like Suárez and J.T. Realmuto needing to be settled at the end of next season. To simplify what that all means, the Phillies need to find value in players who are not earning massive salaries.

Extending Sánchez is the first step in the right direction for a team that will have to find a balance in the future between players earning modest salaries and top-earning superstars if it hopes to retain its own free agents and remain a major presence in the market for free agent signings and high-cost trade targets.

In re-signing Sánchez to a team-friendly deal, the Phillies are betting on future performance and have a player who's relatively young at age 27 under team control at a reasonable salary for the next four seasons — possibly six if he meets or exceeds expectations. This move centers on payroll flexibility and financial sustainability, and the Phillies deserve a straight A for the deal.