Why The Phillies Can Spend Big

A new TV deal should give the Phillies the money to aggressively pursue free agents around existing contracts like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. (USA TODAY Sports)

A new TV deal should give the Phillies the money to aggressively pursue free agents around existing contracts like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. (USA TODAY Sports)

It’s been known for some time that the Philadelphia Phillies, on a below-market local television deal, could see their financial circumstances change dramatically once a new deal is signed.

According to a source with knowledge of the talks, the deal is expected to be completed within the next 30 days. That’s going to matter a great deal for how the team operates this winter.

Consider what the new revenue is likely to be. Under their current deal, which expires after 2014, the Phillies make $35 million per season. This is low by virtually any standard. The San Diego Padres, for instance, make $60 million per year on their television deal. The Rangers are on a new deal at $80 million per season. The Angels check in at $147 million per year. And all three also received equity stakes in the sports networks paying the team.

The Phillies, however, play in Philadelphia (you may have heard), which is the largest single-team market in MLB. Their new deal will be for many times what they are currently making. Phillies ownership can lock in what that will be, and set budgets accordingly.

The result should be an active offseason for a Phillies team  that already has $118.5 million on the books for 2014, committed to seven players: Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins and Mike Adams.

While the Phillies aren’t likely to blow past that $189 million luxury tax threshold, the line serving as de facto salary cap for every team east of Los Angeles, that still gives the Phillies plenty of room to get involved in the bidding on players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo in the outfield, or even rotation pieces like Tim Lincecum.

There’s also finally a sense of realism about the limitations of Ryan Howard, which could lead to top prospect Maikel Franco seeing time in a platoon with Howard at first. Franco is adequate at third, according to scouts, and would also provide a righty bat to pair with Cody Asche at third.

Still, between Franco, Asche and Howard, the Phillies seem satisfied at the infield corners, while they’re betting on a bounce-back season from Jimmy Rollins at short, and a return to health from Chase Utley at second, who signed to a two-year extension this summer.

There is no such satisfaction with Ben Revere, whose defense did not impress and whose arm seems to limit him to left field in the team’s eyes, while Domonic Brown is expected to return to the trading block, despite his breakout 2013 season.

It is the outfield where the Phillies want to spend, and spend big. This television deal, coming as it does early in the offseason, should allow the Phillies to blow past the $140 million they spent on payroll this past season. It also provides a boost to revenue above and beyond the league-wide additional national TV revenue, which begins in 2014 with the new television contract.

And it should more than make up for the more than 550,000 drop in attendance from 2012 to 2013, the second-biggest downward slide in the big leagues, trailing only the Miami Marlins.

The Phillies intend to reverse that, and the best way to do so is by spending, and spending big. A new local television deal will help to make that possible.

16 thoughts on “Why The Phillies Can Spend Big

  1. “Consider what the new revenue is likely to be. Under their current deal, which expires after 2014, the Phillies make $35 million per season. This is low by virtually any standard. ”

    Is that more or less than the long-term chump-change deal the Braves got years ago when Time-Warner decided to sell the team (and local-TV rights)?

    • Braves deal is worth around 20 million which is WAY below market value when you consider their games are carried to around 13 million people in 6 different states. Time Warner just gave away the TV rights to fox because they knew they were about to sell the team anyway. You would think a massive corporation like Liberty, who owns Direct TV, QVC, Starz, and the porn channels carried in hotels rooms, would have said something before buying the Braves from time warner. But they are making a massive profit on the team while making them stand pat with a 90 million dollar payroll.

  2. Pingback: Rumor: Phillies Will Sign New TV Deal Within 30 Days | Fightin For Philly

  3. Howard, you realize how close your name is to “Howard Megadeal,” right? That and the picture had me really confused for a second.

  4. How about doing the right thing and firing McCarthy and Wheeler? It is not an enjoyable couple of hours when you have to listen to those two. I have MLB Extra Innings and usually listen to the opposing team’s broadcast and the Phillies have the most ‘commercial’ broadcast with constant references to some product..

    • and because Comcrap bolts down the number of broadcasts available on extra-innings, your ability to catch “home team” games is rather limited forcing you to this inevitability. AMIRIGHT (I am)

  5. Get rid of the whole tv crew and put Franski and L.A. On the tv, they. Are so much better

  6. Pingback: Report: Phillies To Sign TV Deal Within 30 Days « CBS Philly

  7. Pingback: Report: Phillies To Sign TV Deal Within 30 Days | Philadelphia News

  8. Ummmm………. why would we put our best offensive player in Brown, who is the only real young talent on the team, on the trading block?

  9. A. Their payroll last season was $160 million – not $140.

    B. When you add the salaries of Alfredo Gonzalez and arbitration eligible players such as Kendrick, Bastardo and Revere, you’re looking at closer to $140 million already committed for 2014.

    C. Unless they make a trade or two, there’s no way they can pursue either Ellsbury or Choo. Both are left handed, and they already have 5 regulars hitting from the left side (Howard, Utley, Asche, Brown and Revere), not to mention Rollins, who can’t hit from the right side at this point.

    D. As much as I’d love to see Franco on the big league club in 2014, it’s not going to happen. This organization has a long history of taking it slow with prospects.

  10. Is there any ay to get rid of Howard? I would give him away for a box of Rosen bags. He has been useless for at least 2 years and probably closer to three. I know it would cost us part of his contract to move him but it is better than predicting (almost) a strike out on many at bats. He couldn’t hit a curveball with a fungo bat. Face it…he stinks.

  11. Pingback: Would Early TV Deal Mean Trading Veterans? - That Balls Outta Here - A Philadelphia Phillies Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More