How Long Will Phillies’ Four Aces Stay Together?

The Phillies have assembled an amazing quartet to front their 2011 rotation: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt.  How long can we expect this group to stay together?

  • Halladay is signed through 2013, with an option for '14.  It's possible the option will vest if Halladay tosses 225 innings in '13, 415 innings in '12-13, and avoids the disabled list at the end of the '13 season.
  • Lee is signed through 2015, with a $27.5MM club option for '16.  This option can vest more easily than Doc's, if Lee has 200 innings in '15 or 400 in '14-15 and does not finish the '15 season with a left shoulder or elbow injury.  Plus, the massive $12.5MM buyout on that option gives it a $15MM net price, which might be worth exercising if Lee is good but not great in his age 36 season.
  • Hamels is signed through 2011 and is arbitration eligible for the '12 season.  Will he test the free agent waters after '12?  The Phillies were able to sign Hamels to his current deal two years ago, but were not able to secure his final arbitration year let alone a free agent season or two.
  • Oswalt is signed through 2011.  He has a $16MM mutual option for '12 with a $2MM buyout.  The $14MM net price should be appealing to the Phillies if Oswalt performs anywhere near his 2010 level, though the pitcher does have the ability to opt out.  There are plenty of possibilities after the '11 season: Oswalt could retire, both sides could decide $16MM is a fair salary for another go-round, the Phillies could choose to decline, or the pitcher could decide he wants security for 2013 and seek a multiyear deal.

My guess: the Phillies will work something out with Oswalt for 2012, and we'll enjoy these four pitching together for two seasons.

Thanks to Cot's for the contract info.

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