Phillies Linked to All-MLB Ace With Deal Projected at $30 Million

John Middleton

Getty Philadelphia Phillies chairman John Middleton seems willing to spend if it means bringing home a World Series.

The Philadelphia Phillies have set a new MLB extension record by locking up ace Zack Wheeler with a three-year, $126 million contract. But that does not necessarily mean the team is finished addressing its rotation before Opening Day.

Writing for USA Today, Bob Nightengale reported that the Phillies also have interest in adding free agent Blake Snell, provided he would accept a “one-year or short-term contract.” 

As the offseason heads rapidly toward its end, Snell seems increasingly amenable to that kind of deal. Two of Snell’s fellow marquee free agents in 2024 who also share his agent Scott Boras, Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman, recently agreed to short-term deals of their own.

“You can’t help but wonder whether Snell would be open to a similar short-term contract,” Mike Axisa noted for CBS Sports. “If he is, the Philadelphia Phillies would be interested.”

How a Short-Term Deal for Blake Snell Would Impact the Philadelphia Phillies’ Payroll

After breaking a record to retain Wheeler and giving fellow starter Aaron Nola a seven-year, $172 million contract, the Phillies have spent a lot to shore up their starting rotation for the near future. As a result of those deals and a slew of other costly stars, the team is pushing up against a new tier for its payroll tax rates and would almost certainly cross it by adding Snell — per the competitive balance tax rules, the Phillies would be taxed 110% on every dollar they spend above $297 million.

“A short-term deal for Snell would surely cost $30 million a year, likely more, and that would push the Phillies close to $300 million,” Axisa reported. “Giving Snell $30 million would take payroll from $260 million to $290 million and incur an additional $22.89 million in CBT.”

Blake Snell Would Give the Philadelphia Phillies an Imposing Playoff Rotation

Though it would still mean a significant financial hit, a short-term deal for Snell would still cost significantly less than the $270 million, long-term one he had been seeking from the New York Yankees, as previously reported by Nightengale.

And a deal for Snell would bring the Phillies a formidable addition. The lefty is a two-time Cy Young Award winner, including the one he won last season after leading MLB with a 2.25 ERA. He was also named to the All-MLB first team for the first time in 2023.

It’s hard to say who would lead a Phillies rotation that could include Wheeler, Nola and Snell. Another Cy Young caliber starter would likely push Cristopher Sánchez into a lesser role, with Phillies starters Ranger Suárez and Taijuan Walker holding onto the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.

Either way, if the Phillies are really able to entice Snell on a short-term contract, they would become a truly fearsome postseason matchup, if they weren’t already one.

“Philadelphia is undoubtedly in win-now mode, and both (president Dave) Dombrowski and team chairman John Middleton have a history of making aggressive moves in search of a World Series crown,” as MLB Trade Rumors put it. “Signing Snell and moving to either some kind of six-man rotation or in making Sanchez something of an over-qualified swingman would improve what is already a good rotation, and no postseason opponent would want to face the trio of Snell, Wheeler and Nola within a short series.”

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