The $16 million contract that A.J. Burnett is said to be signing with the Phillies may include a player option for 2015, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. Burnett will be 38 in 2015. If he falls apart at the tender age of 37, the Phillies will be on the hook for whatever amount they have chosen to option themselves out of.
This is nothing new for the second-best team in Pennsylvania.
The Phillies currently owe 34-year-old first-baseman Ryan Howard $85 million. That is not a typographical error. The Phillies owe Ryan Howard Eighty-Five Million Dollars. He hit 11 home runs last year with a .784 OPS and 0.4 WAR. For $25 million per year, that is not quite good enough, but it was a 1.5 win improvement over the 14 home runs and .718 OPS that he posted in 2012. Say it again; Howard is 34 and the Phillies owe him eighty-five million dollars over the next three seasons.
It doesn’t stop there.
The Phillies owe 35-year-old SS Jimmy Rollins $11 million for 2014 and, if he he makes 434 plate appearances this season, they will owe him another $11 million in 2015. He had 666 plate appearances last year and posted a .667 OPS with a 1.6 WAR.
35-year-old Phillie second-baseman Chase Utley had a very good year in 2013. He had an .823 OPS. But it was the first time since his age-30 season that he was able to play in more than 115 games. Over the past three seasons, he has missed 226 days to injury. The Phillies owe him at least $25 million for his age-35 and age-36 seasons. And if he is able to limp to the plate 500 times per season, they will owe him another $45 million through his age-39 season.
Then, we come to Marlon Byrd. He had a nice year in 2013 – at the age of 35. So, the Phillies decided to pay him $16 million for his age-36 and age-37 seasons. Byrd is one season removed from a .210 batting average and .488 OPS.
The Phillies 2014 payroll is now approximately $189 million. Their record, last year, was 73-89. If A.J. Burnett had his for 4.0 WAR season for the Phillies, instead of the Pirates, in 2013, they would have finished just eight games under .500!
Welcome to Philadelphia.