The Phillies ink a huge new TV deal

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UPDATE: Multiple outlets are reporting that the Phillies TV deal is $2.5 billion over 20 years. Or $100 million a year.  That’s a nice bit of scratch.

8:29 AM: The Phillies may not know exactly how to rebuild for the future, but they won’t be lacking for money to do it. The Phillies and Comcast/NBC Universal have agreed to a massive new broadcast deal. Here’s the statement from Comcast SportsNet (Comcast owns NBC Universal and, by extension, this blog):

“We’re pleased to confirm that NBCUniversal and Comcast SportsNet have signed a new long-term deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that will expand Comcast SportsNet’s role as the Phillies’ primary TV partner. Although the terms of the comprehensive deal are confidential, details surrounding the 2014 schedule of games will be provided in the coming months.”

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the deal is for at least 20 years. Given the price other teams’ TV rights have gone for, it’s not a stretch to guess that the deal would be in the billions.

The current TV deal was set to expire following the 2015 season.

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.