As we await today’s fresh set of rumors stoked by agenda-driven agents and front offices, Ken Rosenthal checks in with the structure of Andrew McCutchen’s new three-year deal with the Phillies, and I like what the team did here:
Per source, McCutchen deal with #Phillies is back-loaded: $10M in 2019, $17M in 2020, $20M in 2021, plus $15M club option or $3M buyout for 2022.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 13, 2018
The $10 million owed in the first year is pocket change, adding minimal obligation to an already modest 2019 payroll. In theory, it allows the Phils to make more aggressive short-term offers and front-load deals with prospective free agents, which certainly seems to be the organization’s goal. Look no further than their reported reluctance to go three years with J.A. Happ despite the obvious need for a reliable left-handed starter.
If you’re looking for a Harper/Machado angle, as I presume you are, it also leaves the team additional room to offer more immediate up-front money in whatever bananas contract they ultimately propose to either free agent. In what figures to be a hotly-contested bidding war, additional flexibility, however small it may be, matters.
Looking ahead, it also maximizes the Phillies’ ability to absorb a more expensive expiring contract should the team look to add at the trade deadline this summer.
Interestingly enough, while paying a 34-year-old McCutchen $20 million in 2021 isn’t ideal, the contract doesn’t overlap the unrestricted free agency of Aaron Nola (2022) or Rhys Hoskins (2024), assuming they don’t pick up the fourth-year option. While both players are due raises as they climb the arbitration scale (or both sides could elect to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement), there shouldn’t be any concern of this back-loaded deal handicapping the team as the financial commitments toward its younger players increase.