The Philadelphia Phillies are in a prime position to strike this season with the dead free agent market. Right now it seems they are primed to go nuts in next year’s market. They already made their first splash in signing veteran infielder/designated-hitter Carlos Santana. They also signed reliever Pat Neshek to a deal. On top of those, they are paying Matt Harrison, Howie Kendrick, and Michael Saunders some money. With a current payroll of $41 million before accounting for those making the minimum, the Philadelphia Phillies should make more big splashes now. One should be signing Yu Darvish.
The Phillies have a lot of pieces that started to show their glow in 2017. After several years of top prospects stalling in AAA and with the big league club, players like Rhys Hoskins, Jorge Alfaro, and Nick Williams had strong years. Aaron Nola had a good season as the future ace of the Phillies. The team also has stalwarts Cesar Hernandez and Cameron Rupp returning. They traded away Freddy Galvis, but still retain Tommy Joseph and Maikel Franco, who both took steps backwards in 2017. However, Joseph and Franco are just 25 and 24. They will improve.
The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, Yu Darvish’s two preferred teams, are trying to stay under the luxury tax in 2018 to reset their penalties. The Phillies have the aforementioned $44 million in payroll. Just for comparison, in 2011, the last season the Phillies made the playoffs, the payroll was $172 million. The Phillies know next season they can make a big splash, but they could make a splash in this market and still go nuts next season before coming close to the $206 million for the luxury tax hit in 2019.
The Phillies rotation next season under new manager Gabe Kapler right now is Nola, Vince Velazquez, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter, Jr., along with one of Jerad Eickhoff or Zack Eflin. Aside of Nola, those are a lot of question marks. Signing Yu Darvish would immediately make the rotation even stronger. While it would not push them into a Wild Card spot, it would make them less of a push over. If Velazquez can find the potential he was gifted with, it would help enormously. After that you can roll with one of Eickhoff and company.
The Phillies have the ability to offer Yu Darvish $20 million a season for five years. That would bring them to $64 million in payroll. This leaves a room of $108 million to spend before reaching 2011 levels. It also leaves $142 million before the luxury tax hit in 2019. On top of Darvish, they could use that money and sign Jake Arrieta or Lance Lynn to 4/80 or 4/64 contracts and still not even break $100 million in payroll this season. The Phillies could then go nuts in 2019 and sign Bryce Harper or something that will push them into a playoff position in 2019 when the Nationals door shuts.
The Phillies have a lot of potential and a lot of money to offer. If they sign Yu Darvish, they will gain about a five WAR starter in their rotation with the chance to get even better in 2019. Yu Darvish is the start for the new Phillies.