I missed this earlier but it’s still worth sharing. It’s from Matt Gelb’s Sunday notebook at The Athletic, following the Dave Dombrowski and Joe Girardi press conferences:
“Spring was here, and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski praised ownership for its commitment to winning. The threshold for paying luxury tax — something the Phillies have never done — has risen by $20 million this year. Dombrowski would not elaborate on his revised budget, but sources indicated ownership had authorized Dombrowski to spend as he saw fit — so long as he did not exceed a $230 million budget. That did not mean the Phillies would spend right to that number, but it was permitted.”
This shouldn’t be a surprise because the Phillies have never crossed the luxury tax threshold, ever, as Matt notes. It would actually be a bigger story if Dombrowski was instructed that he COULD spend more money.
But it’s good to see it reported like this, from a reputable scribe like Gelb, because now we can use this to arm ourselves for future arguments at the water cooler or on sports talk radio. And it doesn’t necessarily mean John Middleton is cheap. The Phillies are actually a top-six spending team in Major League Baseball, they just aren’t getting their money’s worth. It’s less about spending “stupid money” and more about spending it on the right guys.
According to Spotrac, right now only the Mets and Dodgers are paying the luxury tax. The Yankees might get there, but after them there’s a big gap to the Padres/Phillies/White Sox. The larger problem, as we’re all aware, is that the Phillies farm system is only pumping out two things right now – jack and shit, so they don’t have the luxury of these quality affordable young guys complementing the higher paid free agents they go out and sign. It’s a top-heavy team that isn’t firing on all organizational cylinders and hasn’t been for some time now.