Eight arbitration eligible players, including Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard, may file for salary arbitration today, a first step in negotiations that could push payroll to $125M, according to one report.
A year after fans shouted out for the Phils to lock up Howard long-term, everyone has thrown the possibility out the window and seem to be content going year-to-year, which is mildly ironic since the first basemen finished higher in MVP voting in 2008 than 2007. It’s understandable though. They’ll look at last year’s $10M payday. They’ll understand where the pay scale sits with comparable players like Mark Teixeira and acknowledge the Phils’ laundry list of other deals that must get done. And frankly, they’ll look at Howard’s season and recognize there are some legitimate gripes with his performance.
Hamels is a different case; I see a process that could unfold a lot like Howard’s did last season with a bar-setting deal that could climb to $5 million, with the Phils taking a stab on an offer to take him past the 2012 season. There are very few, if any, knocks against the 25-year-old’s career thus far, so I see the World Series MVP rewarded handsomely in the context of other pitchers who’ve gone through the process.
It’s interesting though. One has to wonder where the focus is for a young stud with a history of injury in uncertain economic times. Does Hamels look ahead to paydirt three years from now, or seek immediate security?