Free agency is what makes every baseball off-season interesting. Envisioning your team signing the best player, then that player leading your team to the World Series behind an MVP award-winning season makes any baseball fan salivate. Phillies fans nearly lived it when GM Ruben Amaro signed Cliff Lee as a free agent after the 2010 season, meaning the Phillies would open the 2011 season with a starting rotation that included Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be; we all know how that season ended.
In the time since, we’ve endured rumors that involved the Phillies signing Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, and Michael Cuddyer. This off-season is no different, as the Phillies are linked to many of the upper-tier players, mostly outfielders, such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Nelson Cruz, and Curtis Granderson.
With a TV deal on the horizon, it seems that now is an appropriate time to bring out the checkbook and add some new talent via free agency, even if that means crossing the luxury tax threshold ($189 million) – though the team has not given any indication it plans to actually do so. As they stand right now, they owe $119.5 million to seven players. They also have decisions to make on eight arbitration-eligible players, as well as the Major League minimum salaries for a handful of players. If the team is constrained either by the luxury tax threshold or its $160 million Opening Day payroll from 2013, then they only have the room for one or two big-ticket free agent signings.