The Phillies missed out on their man last night, when B.J. Upton signed with the Braves for $75 million ridiculous and foolish dollars. So, it’s on to option two or three, which could be Josh Hamilton. Here’s what ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick had to say last night:
Those read an awful lot like these Tweets from Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman and Jayson Stark just hours before the Phillies signed Cliff Lee.
Previously, Heyman wrote that Hamilton would be the Phillies’ third option if they were unable sign Upton or Michael Bourn. Well, Upton is off the board and Bourn is probably going to cost more than he’s worth (though the Phillies are reportedly still interested in him).
Jim Salisbury writes that the Phillies have some reservations about Hamilton (I do too), noting his struggles with addiction. But he doesn’t rule out the possibility. Jayson Stark, however, says the Phillies are “not in on [Hamilton].”
I think signing Hamilton for the upwards of $175 million he wants would be foolish. The Phillies don’t need another aging star with a monster contract. But, recent reports about large payouts to teams from league TV contracts have shown that what was considered to be a ton of money five years ago may be a bargain today. Starting in 2014, teams will receive around $27 million more per season from national TV deals, according to this report by Matt Gelb of Philly.com. And that doesn’t factor in the massive local TV contract the Phillies are going to get in 2015, when their current deal with CSN expires. When compared with other big market teams, the Phils receive relatively little from their current deal– $35 million. [This FanGraphs article ranks team TV contracts.] So, with an infusion of cash coming, the Phillies could likely afford Hamilton. Hell, there have already been reports that they’re OK with his salary demands. It might not be smart, but they could do it.
Salisbury also points out that the trade for Astros reliever Wilton Lopez has stalled, for now. Lopez was in Philadelphia for a physical yesterday, but the trade was never finalized as expected. The assumption (worry?) is that the Phillies found something they didn’t like. Lopez missed time with an elbow injury last season.
Anyway, Rube is the great distractor, and all of this focus on Upton and, to a lesser degree, Lopez and Ryan Madson, could have been a diversion from the real target– Josh Hamilton. Or Shane Victorino: