On Tuesday, the Phillies release pitcher Matt Harrison, who never threw one pitch in a Phillies uniform after coming to the ballclub as part of the Cole Hamels trade to the Texas Rangers. It was a chronic back injury that kept Harrison sidelined.
Matt Klentak decided Harrison’s back problem can be someone’s else’s issue, but the Phillies got themselves in an issue of their own.
By letting Harrison go, the Phillies do take on millions in dead money that they owe Harrison. Matt Gelb lays it out well.
But the Phillies kept Harrison because an insurance policy on his inherited contract stipulated that his employer could recoup some of Harrison’s salary so long as the pitcher remained on the 40-man roster. He was slated to make $13 million in 2017, with a $2 million buyout to be paid in 2018. The insurance policy, a source said, did not cover the entire amount of the contract. But it would have refunded the Phillies at least half of the $15.2 million owed to Harrison. The Phillies, two sources said, reached some sort of settlement with the insurance company that defrayed a portion of the $15.2 million sum.
Why did the Phillies do this you ask? To save roster space for younger players.
After cutting Harrison, the 40-man roster has 32 players on it. The deadline to have players that teams would like to protect from the Rule 5 Draft on their 40-man rosters is this Friday. This move means the Phillies may eat about $10 million or so, but it saves one of its prized prospects from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft.
According to Gelb, Klentak said he sees himself adding at least five prospects to the 40-man roster by week’s end.
Also according to Gelb, the Phillies will add Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens, Andrew Knapp, Ben Lively, Nick Pivetta, Mark Appel, and Elniery Garcia to the 40-man roster, which would leave one more spot available. However, Klentak could also release more players to make room for more prospects before that deadline hits.