It’s an unquestionable fact the Phillies were once the powerhouse of the National League East, pennant holders, and yearly contenders for the World Series.
A decade later, the club finds themselves last in the National League through 14 games and looking for their next chance.
The rebuilding process is not an easy one, but since trading mainstays Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, the team has looked poised to make a splash.
Phillies owner John Middleton is pleased with where his franchise sits today, expressing to Angelo Cataldi of 94 WIP that they’re “on schedule” and on the right track to success.
In general, a rebuild may last a team anywhere from three to eight years. Middleton sees the Phils at the lower end of the spectrum given the talent at every level.
What was one of the shallowest in the league, the minor league system is having newfound success after years of trade deadline selling, showcasing the potential of the next generation Phillies.
However, it’s not all about the players all the time; if numbers mean anything, Middleton’s wish to contend and bring the trophy back to Philadelphia may come sooner than later.
According to Forbes, the Phightins topped Major League Baseball in operating income (profit) for 2016 at $87.7 million. That’s four million more than the Chicago Cubs whose fans clamored for memorabilia after breaking a 108-year World Series drought.
Simply put, more profit means more money. Having the money gives Matt Klentak more leverage in potentially signing valuable players such as Bryce Harper, who will become a free agent in 2018 at just 26 years old.
For a fast track to the top, the Phillies need just that- a young, superstar player who can solidify the middle of the lineup every day and provide stability in the field.
Klentak proclaimed that the “time is coming” for acquiring a mega contract rather than one-year veteran deals. Helping his cause, the Phillies have one contract in the books after this season, opening up a plethora of options.
Odubel Herrera’s $3.35 million is the only contract from this year that will carry over into the payroll of next season meaning the front office has few limitations when it comes to which free agents to pursue.
Bryce Harper or Manny Machado could slot into the lineup instantly, but if they decide to take their talents elsewhere, there are other options as free agency in the coming years is loaded with skill. The Phillies would be the beneficiary of holding onto the salary if they choose.
With the most cap space in the league for 2018, Klentak and Middleton could accelerate the rebuild by signing Harper, Machado, or the like to team up with the future: J.P Crawford, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, and possibly Mickey Moniak.
If the prospects prove their full potential, then it’s plausible to see the Phillies back as legitimate contenders within the next two years.
Even if they strike out on Harper or Machado, the City of Brotherly Love should not fret. The forthcoming roster moves will change the outlook of Pete Mackanin’s team for the long term.
For now, role playing veterans will hold down the fort as Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco, and Tommy Joseph continue developing in the major leagues. The team could see another turnover during the deadline where Jeremy Hellickson and fellow veterans could be dealt to contenders.
Photo by Kevin Burkett on Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons