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- American professional baseball player
The Phillies, like the other 29 major league teams, find themselves in an indefinite holding pattern.
After MLB's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, the owners locked out the players, preventing any free agent signings, trades or workouts at the team facilities. The owners have more leverage now, though that decreases as we get closer to the start of the 2022 regular season scheduled for March 31.
The players want a bigger piece of the revenue pie, while the owners are adamant about keeping things the way they are. This could last for months.
When the work stoppage eventually ends, the Phillies have quite a bit of work to do coming off an 82-80 season.
While the National League East rival Mets spent $259.5 million on four players – 37-year-old starting pitcher Max Scherzer (three years, $130 million), outfielders Starling Marte (four years, $78M) and Mark Canha (two years, $26.5 million) and infielder Eduardo Escobar (two years, $25M) – the Phillies did very little.
Signing 30-year-old reliever Corey Knebel for one year and $10 million should bolster the back end of the bullpen. He was an all-star in 2017 with the Brewers (39 saves, 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings) but Knebel missed 17 months after April 2019 Tommy John surgery and has been used mainly in a setup role since his return in September 2020. It looks like this could wind up being a wash since Hector Neris left for the Houston Astros.
The Phils' only other moves were signing utility infielder Johan Camargo to a one-year, $1.4 million contract, bringing back Seranthony Dominguez, a once-effective reliever who spent most of 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery, for one year at $725,000 and claiming three guys off of waivers. Camargo, a switch hitter, spent all but 16 regular-season at bats last season at the Triple-A level.
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And the Phillies crave a left fielder and center fielder, and perhaps a third baseman and shortstop, as well as more bullpen help. On offense, they don't have a legitimate lead-off hitter and would benefit from another power bat to support 2021 NL MVP Bryce Harper, who is heading into the fourth year of his 13-year, $330 million contract and has yet to reach the playoffs here.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies pursued outfielder/third baseman Kris Bryant, left fielder Kyle Schwarber and others, according to reports, but only the additions of Knebel and Camargo were finalized by the time the owners instituted the lockout. And don't forget the Braves are the defending World Series champions.
The primary reason the Phillies have so many holes to fill is how unproductive the farm system has been. So few legitimate starting-quality players from within the organization are being drafted and developed and too many Mickey Moniaks and Adam Haseleys results in being forced to sign free agents or trade for guys to plug into those everyday spots.
That also explains why the Phillies already have $181.1 million committed to just 13 players, which includes signing arbitration-eligible players Rhys Hoskins (estimated $7.6 million), starting pitcher Zach Eflin ($6M) and reliever Jose Alvarado (estimated $1.9 million).
Dombrowski said in July that he "wouldn't get into that publicly" when asked if ownership was allowing him to exceed the $210 million luxury tax threshold. That doesn't sound like it's a viable option. If the threshold rises to $240 million, which the players are seeking, Dombrowski would have more room to maneuver.
The Phils remained under the $210 million threshold in 2021, which was Dombrowski's first season in Philadelphia. The remaining $29 million for '22 – barring an increase – doesn't leave a lot of space for upgrades that are essential if they plan on being in the mix for a postseason berth.
Tom Moore: email@example.com; @TomMoorePhilly
This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: MLB lockout: How it affects Philadelphia Phillies in 2022