By Sam Bush

There’s a narrative around town that Phils owner Jiohn Middleton is a cheapy, notwithstanding his personal billions.

Turns out, he just needed to trust the general manager whispering in his ear.

And, from what the team has done in the past week, it is logical to assume Middleton trusts Dave Dombrowski a lot more than he did Matt Klentak.

Take the Nick Castellanos deal.

The narrative and the reality is that it pushes the Phillies past the Competitive Balance Tax for the first time in franchise history.

Most fans don’t give a rat’s ass about the CBT, and as it turns out neither does Middleton:

“I started to interrupt him, because I knew where it was going and I was fine with it,” Middleton said about Dombrowski’s pitch to sign big-bucks stars following Schwarber’s introductory press conference.

“But he had worked on this, and he wanted to lay out the logic to it, and I said, ‘OK, I’ll be quiet, I’ll sit patiently.’ After 20 minutes, I said, ‘Yes,’ again.”

Less than 48 hours later, the Phillies and Castellanos agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract, giving the team one of the more high-powered offenses in baseball.

“[Dombrowski] talked about why and he talked about the opportunity,” Middleton said.

“And he talked about, if you didn’t do this, what it meant and what else you could do if you didn’t want to be this aggressive. But at the end of the day, he said this is what I think you need to do. He’s the only GM who has taken three different franchises to the World Series. He’s one of five who has won two with two different franchises. When that guy says to you, ‘This in an opportunity’ — he’s been there. He’s been there a dozen times over in a career of 30-plus years. He’s making that judgment. He says, ‘You know, I think this is the time to strike.’ Those opportunities don’t come along very often.”

“We have a really strong base, not just for this year,” Middleton said. “We’ve got guys who are going to be around for years in the pitching staff and on the position side, and I think we’ll be able to build on this. So when you think of what might happen a year from now, we’re going to have opportunities to build on that [due to an improving farm system].”

What about the buzz that the Phillies would never exceed the luxury tax?

“You hear that, but the question then is what factual evidence would you provide to support that statement, because there is none,” he said. “There’s no memo in the file that says, ‘You may not do this.’ I’ve heard people say, ‘Well, there’s a directive.’ Really? … Did I write it down? Was it a verbal directive? Who was I talking to? When did I say it? There was no truth to any of that. But you know what, sometimes you just have to be patient and wait until the right moment, and then you get to do what you’ve always said you were going to do all along.”


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