Friday, 01 March 2019 16:41

'MATTer of Opinion' SPORTS COLUMN: Breaking down the Phillies' new 13-year mistake

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The big news of this week in the baseball world is the signing of Bryce Harper to the Philadelphia Phillies on a budget-busting 13-year, $330 million contract. Regarded by many as the big prize of the offseason, whichever team Harper signed with was going to be one of the big stories of the year.

The Phillies, along with nearly every other National League East rival, got a whole lot stronger for 2019, and many Braves fans (like myself) who have been disappointed with the post-Josh Donaldson inactivity shown by the team are very concerned about their ability to repeat as division champions this year.

And while things look daunting for 2019, I am nothing if not a positive thinker, and it is in that spirit that I offer this shining ray of hope:

The 2031 Philadelphia Phillies are a complete and utter mess.

Sure, they may end up with a couple of World Series trophies to show for it along the way, but is that really worth the financial commitment that it took to land an elite outfielder in Bryce Harper? We all know that the key to managing a good baseball team is maintaining financial flexibility, and the Phillies are really mortgaging their long-term future, and for what?

No thanks.

We know all too well that the chickens will come to roost, and I for one take great joy in knowing that when my unborn daughter is becoming a teenager, she won't have to worry about the Phillies ruining her day.

"Why do you think they're in trouble?" you ask? Well let's look at their payroll breakdown for 2031. According to Fangraphs, here are the Phillies' financial commitments for the 2031 season:

  • Bryce Harper, $22 million

That's not very financially flexible. Who could possibly justify committing so much money to a player approaching age 39? The Phillies are going to have to do some serious advance scouting now in order to prepare for this season of reckoning, and I'm not sure they have the organizational infrastructure to do so. They will have to get their scouts out to every t-ball team and elementary school in the country in order to bring forth a crop of young and inexpensive players to support an aging Harper in 2031. And given that the scouting duties of a major league team are already spread thin, this is an almost insurmountable task for them.

Now, let's contrast this with the plan for the Atlanta Braves. Again, looking at Fangraphs, here are the financial obligations for the 2031 season:




Look at that beautiful financial flexibility. As you can see, this is a much more economically liquid outlook for the Braves in 2031, and when you consider that they will have almost certainly complete Phase XIX of The Battery by this point, there are going to be even more revenue streams from which to draw in order to make a modest move for a free agent. Maybe they can even re-sign Nick Markakis to his 13th consecutive one-year contract.

Think about how much flexibility the team will have knowing that they'll have a full-scale roller coaster on top of the Orange parking garage bringing in additional revenue.

This will be a team built for success, while the Phillies will be hamstrung by bad contracts and poor financial planning. Phillies fans will be left only to dry their tears with their division championship banners, and I for one can't wait.

So never fear, Braves fans. In just 12 short years, our long regional nightmare will be over, and we can take great joy in knowing that the 2030s for the Phillies are pretty much doomed. Think of all the debt that the Braves would've paid off by then. 

We will be poised to make our big move.

Last modified on Thursday, 07 March 2019 20:02