Zach Eflin has once again been shortchanged by the Phillies front office
Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin is being shortchanged by the front office over less than two million dollars in compensation.
During his third season in the majors in 2018, Eflin was optioned down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley so the Phillies could add first basemen Justin Bour in a trade with the Miami Marlins. Eflin, who was pitching well at the time, tallying a 3.57 ERA over 16 starts, lost over $20k in salary when he was forced to spend almost three weeks in the minors all so Gabe Kapler and the Phillies could have an extra bench player available for their next series.
The Phillies eventually restored Eflin’s lost service time, but the move was not forgotten by the young pitcher or his teammates at the time. Was the roster flexibility the Phillies gained in the process of optioning Eflin to the minors worth the risk of alienating a young foundational player or others in the clubhouse?
“Players don’t forget that,” Eflin said. “So we’ll see what happens. I mean, I’m looking forward to the hearing and seeing what they have to say about me. I feel like I’m going to learn a lot about the business side of the game.”
Some would say that anything that helps the team win games is the correct move to make, but I am not so sure. Of course, players talk and the negative perception of a front office can affect the future ability of a team to sign key free agents or retain the talent they already employ.
For example, it is a well-known NBA secret that players don’t trust the Boston Celtics in contract negotiations after they seemingly screwed All-Star guard Isiah Thomas who suffered a major hip injury while playing injured for the team in the playoffs. The situation is still so tense that the Celtics were reportedly hesitant to sign Thomas to a 10-day contract this season over the backlash they would face if his contract was not renewed.
The Phillies who raised eyebrows at the time are once again at odds with Eflin over his projected salary. In late May, an arbiter will make a ruling after listening to the Phillies and Eflin’s representatives make the case over how much he should be paid for the 2022 season. While not uncommon in professional baseball, Eflin’s is the only unsettled arbitration case for the Phillies this season.
The Phillies would prefer to pay Eflin, who will be a free agent after the 2022 season, $5.15 million this season, while the 6’6” right-hander and his representatives believe he is worth around $6.9 million. Altogether the team is haggling with one of their most important players over less than $2 million.
According to Eflin the Phillies never made a serious attempt to bridge the gap in his perceived value.
“I know what I bring to this club every fifth day,” Eflin said. “And I see my true value more than what their offer was. So that’s really all I have to say. I’m curious to see what they have to say in a courtroom. So, it’ll be interesting, but I’m looking forward to it.”
I understand that any employer, in this case, the Phillies, has a legal right to protect the interests of their business. But I personally find it laughable that Dave Dombrowski and the front office are spending time during the season preparing legal arguments to pay an important player less.
In a sport so hyper-obsessed with performance, both physical and mental, it’s extremely short-sighted and asinine to have a player on the field who has to worry about a paycheck. Especially one like Eflin who is attempting to return to form following offseason knee surgery.
The Phillies were recently valued by Forbes at $2.3 billion and according to that same data had revenue in excess of $325 million last season.