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January 15, 2021

Phillies sign Rhys Hoskins to one-year deal, avoid arbitration

And then there were none.

After avoiding arbitration with Vince Velasquez and Jose Alvarado by signing the duo to a pair of one-year deals worth $4 million and $1 million, respectively, the Phillies were down to just one arbitration-eligible player: Rhys Hoskins. That, however, is no longer the case. According to reports, the Phillies have also agreed with the 27-year-old infielder on a one-year deal, meaning there won't be any arbitration cases for the team this year. 

[UPDATE, 3:16 p.m. — The Phillies have made the signings of Hoskins, Velasquez and Alvarado official.]

What had been an extremely quiet offseason to this point for the Phillies — and much of MLB, honestly — appears to be picking up steam this week as several key free agents have begun finding new homes. For the Phillies, the biggest signing to date has been the addition of reliever Archie Bradley, who inked a one-year deal with Philly on Thursday night. 

Now, the team has locked up its three remaining arbitration eligible players after entering the offseason with eight of them. And while the terms for Hoskins might be on the higher side of what was projected for the Phillies first baseman in his first year of eligibility, it's not that big of a hit and takes out the possibility of Hoskins winning arbitration and costing the Phillies even more money. 

Last year, after a rough 2019 campaign that saw him absolutely fall apart in the second half, Hoskins' season was cut short due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Prior to the injury, Hoskins was slashing .245/.384/.503 and hit 10 home runs in just 41 games. He's hoping to be ready in time for spring training and was last seen taking cuts in the batting cage on New Year's Eve.

There's also another significant part to the Phillies having all their arbitration players now locked up in that they know exactly how much those players are going to cost this season and exactly how much they have left to spend in free agency, assuming there's a hard, self-imposed cap for Dave Dombrowski and Co. Even if there's not, the Phillies should now have a better idea of not only how much they can offer J.T. Realmuto, who remains unsigned, but also how much they'll have left over to fill in the other holes on their roster, such as shortstop and centerfield. 

That being said, Realmuto (and even those other two positions) should have always been the priority this offseason, and saving a couple hundred thousand dollars here or there on an arbitration-eligible player should not be the difference between the Phillies getting a deal done or not.

So, how much might the Phillies have left to spend? Well, that will largely be up to the team, but they currently have $157 million committed to the 2021 season, down about $50 million from what they were projected to spend last season before the pandemic caused the season to be shortened significantly. For those wondering, the luxury tax threshold for 2021 is slated to be $210 million dollars, and while the team will certainly add more players, there's almost no way the Phillies come close to hitting that number. 

Here's more from NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury:

These signings leave the Phillies with $157 million in payroll committed for 2021. That number will rise significantly as the Phils still need to fill big holes at catcher and shortstop and sign players with less than three years of service time.

Last year, the Phillies were projected to pay just over $207 million in payroll before the pandemic hit. After suffering revenue losses in 2020, the Phils will not go that high in 2021, but they still have room to continue to be active in the free-agent market — they signed reliever Archie Bradley on Thursday — and are attempting to re-sign catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius.  []

Maybe the wait-and-see strategy for Realmuto will pay off, as potential suitors like the Mets, Yankees and Angels appear to be dropping out of contention left and right. 

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