Burnett signing could give Phils record payroll

Burnett signing could give Phils record payroll
February 12, 2014, 3:15 pm
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The A.J. Burnett signing appears to have pushed the Phillies past their previous record payroll of $174.5 million, set in 2012. (USA Today Images)

PHILLIES 2014 PAYROLL COMMITMENTS

Ryan Howard: $25M

Cliff Lee: $25M

Cole Hamels: $23.5M

A.J. Burnett: $16M

Chase Utley: $15M

Jonathan Papelbon: $13M

Jimmy Rollins: $11M

Carlos Ruiz: $8.5M

Marlon Byrd: $8M

Kyle Kendrick: $7.675M

Mike Adams: $7M

Roberto Hernandez: $4.5M

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez: $4M

Antonio Bastardo: $2M

Ben Revere: $1.95M

John Mayberry, Jr.: $1.5875M

Wil Nieves: $1.125M

Kevin Frandsen: $900,000

*TOTAL: $171,737,500

*Excluding Phillies with fewer than two years and 100 days of service time

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Well, now that the prelude is out of the way, are you ready for the first day of Phillies spring training?

The eve of camp proved to be a doozy Wednesday.

First, Cole Hamels announced that he would not be ready for opening day because he had a sore shoulder this winter and is behind in his throwing program (see story).

Moments after Hamels came clean, word began to circulate that the Phillies had signed free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett to a one-year contract worth $16 million (see story).

So much for a peaceful check-in day at Camp Clearwater.

The mitts haven’t even started popping and there are already comings and goings.

With the signing of Burnett, the Phillies turned a quiet offseason into a busy one.

The Phils had been criticized for watching their finances this winter. Previously, the most they had spent this winter on a 2014 salary was the $8.6 million they gave Carlos Ruiz as part of a three-year contract extension. Outfielder Marlon Byrd, the team’s most notable newcomer, was signed for $16 million over two seasons, as much as Burnett got for one season.

By opening the wallet for Burnett, the Phillies’ payroll could be close to the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million by season’s end. The Phils had projected to have a payroll of just over $160 million before Burnett. Now, it projects to be about $176 million, which would be a club record. The previous record was $174.5 million in 2012. Add in the extra $10 million that all clubs must pay for benefits, as well as monies for minor-league callups, and the Phils’ payroll -- calculated for luxury-tax purposes -- could end up being more than $186 million in 2014.

Burnett has a limited no-trade clause, which could hamper the Phillies' ability to deal him should they attempt to move him in July if they are not in contention.

Though Hamels insisted that he is healthy and predicted he’d be pitching in April, it’s probable that his condition contributed to the pursuit of Burnett.

It’s also possible that Phillies officials have some concerns about whether Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will be able to hold down a spot in the rotation.

Burnett eases the drop-off after Hamels and Cliff Lee in the rotation. If Hamels suffers a recurrence of his shoulder problem, however, the drop-off will remain.

As recently as two weeks ago, Hamels said he was in good health. Amaro on several occasions this winter stated that the team had no health concerns other than reliever Mike Adams, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Turns out Adams has company.

Hamels maintains that he is in good health. On Wednesday he said the discomfort in his shoulder was long gone, that there was no reason to be alarmed, and that he would be ready to throw off a bullpen mound in eight to 10 days. He predicted he would be in the rotation in the month of April.

Stay tuned.

Things are already a little crazy in Clearwater and camp hasn’t even started yet.