COMMENTARY | The Philadelphia Phillies are believed to have offered Texas Rangers’ free agent Josh Hamilton a three-year contract in the range of $80 million. Reviewing the Phillies’ roster, that now includes his old friend Michael Young, should cause this perennial Most Valuable Player Award candidate to strongly consider what’s on the table.
Money and the man
Phillies’ general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has made two deals so far this offseason that have been cost-effective. In filling his center field and third base holes, Amaro has only committed a combined approximate amount of $6.5 million to Ben Revere and Michael Young.
Along with existing financial obligations, the Phillies’ estimated 2013 payroll stands just shy of $150 million. Because baseball’s luxury tax threshold is $178 million next season, Amaro still has somewhere around $28 million to work with.
Depending upon how the contract is weighted, Hamilton could make approximately $20 million during the first year of the deal and then earn higher amounts in successive seasons. That would seem to make sense since Chase Utley ($15.286 million), Roy Halladay ($20 million) and Carlos Ruiz ($5 million) will all be playing in the final year of their own guaranteed deals this coming season.
So, it’s possible that a big-ticket free agent like Hamilton can still be added to the roster and that other needs can also be addressed within the luxury tax threshold limit.
Worth the risk
There are plenty of baseball players who aren’t worth this type of financial risk. The gamble with Hamilton isn’t so much that he won’t produce, but that he won’t be able keep his personal life in balance.
Certainly this 31-year-old slugger’s past battles with drugs are an issue. But, there’s no other currently available bat that offers the potential to dramatically enhance the Phillies’ lineup like his can.
If this deal actually comes to fruition, Amaro might be putting his own job on the line. But, the opportunity for the Phillies to win with this current group of players will likely end after the 2013 season.
It seems that Hamilton, or some other high-profile player who would be acquired at next summer’s trade deadline, will be added to Charlie Manuel’s red-pinstriped squad at some point. Amaro should be expected to go all-in as he tries for a trophy one more time.
Sean O’Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He began his professional career in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons’ front office (the Philadelphia Phillies former Triple-A affiliate) and later worked as a freelance print sports writer. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
Other features from the Yahoo Contributor Network:
When Baseball Cards Were King
Philadelphia Phillies’ Controversial Minor League Team Name Change is a Marketing Gamble
Was Babe Ruth the Greatest Baseball Player of All-Time?
When did Cy Young Have His Best Season?
Carlos Ruiz’ Drug Suspension Raises 1980 Philadelphia Phillies’ Link