Phillies paying pennies in luxury tax compared to division rival Mets

The Phillies owe $6.8 million, which pales in comparison to the division rival New York Mets for their expensive failure in 2023.
Philadelphia Phillies and Dave Dombrowski owe $6.8 million in luxury tax for 2023
Philadelphia Phillies and Dave Dombrowski owe $6.8 million in luxury tax for 2023 / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The MLB Luxury Tax bill is in, and the rival New York Mets will be paying the largest penalty ever handed to a franchise since the payroll tax was first put into place. The Mets 2023 payroll was a bloated $374.7 million, and the team will now fork over $101 million as a result.

The Philadelphia Phillies were also on the list of eight MLB teams getting hit with a luxury tax bill with a penalty of $6.8 million for carrying $255 million in payroll in 2023. $6.8 million seems like pocket change compared to the whopping $101 million owed by the Mets.

With good reason.

The $374.7 million Mets team will go down as one of the most expensive failures in baseball history. The team was all but finished by the time the Aug. 1 trade deadline rolled around. In a flurry of trades, the Mets dealt Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, David Robertson, Mark Canha, and Tommy Pham. All of this resulted in a fourth-place finish in the National League East for a Mets team picked by many experts to contend for a World Series title.

The Atlanta Braves will also pay the luxury tax

The Atlanta Braves have spent quite a bit of money on long-term contracts dating back to last offseason. FanGraphs lists the Braves' 2023 payroll at $245.9 million and taxed at 20 percent, the team will pay $3.2 million for exceeding the luxury tax as a first-time offender.

The Braves will likely go over that threshold again in 2024. In what has been a quiet offseason so far, Atlanta has been in the discussion for notable free agents and will have to pay some of their young players a raise when arbitration numbers are exchanged early next month.

What does the Phillies payroll look like in 2024?

FanGraphs has the Phillies payroll sitting at $237 million in 2024. That's before you consider any free agent signings or contract extensions for players like Zack Wheeler, who the team has expressed public interest in locking up beyond next season. Maybe even Bryce Harper?

Add in arbitration raises for key young players like Alec Bohm, Ranger Suárez, Gregory Soto, Edmundo Sosa, and Jeff Hoffman, the Phillies are likely entering a fourth consecutive year of exceeding luxury tax thresholds.

Is the luxury tax scaring the Phillies away from making a big splash this offseason?

The answer to that question seems complicated because they have a clear need at closer but have so far remained out of the market for Josh Hader. The team extended an offer to Yoshinubo Yamamoto, probably somewhere near the $300 million range, considering he signed for $325 million with the Dodgers. They re-signed Aaron Nola for $172 million.

John Heyman wrote today that the Phillies are one of a small but crowded group of teams considering front-of-the-rotation types like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery. Obviously, if this is true, the Phillies are more than willing to spend, and upgrading starting pitching is the primary focus.

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