Over the course of the past year or so, numerous teams have initiated a rebuilding process. (Interestingly, most if not all of them reside in the National League.) Each rebuild is different; each team has a unique philosophy on how a roster should be managed, through both the good times and bad.
Some teams, typically those in larger markets that can afford larger pay rolls, seem to feel that they can remain contenders and avoid a true rebuild. Others, usually the middling and smaller market teams, may choose to do a complete teardown, following the Cubs’ strategy of getting worse before getting better.
There is no book on how to rebuild a bad team into a perennial contender, but generally, the first step is to move veterans in exchange for players or prospects under team control and at a much cheaper cost. Roster flexibility and less long-term financial strain is paramount.
Let’s take two case studies sampling teams with contrasting rebuilding strategies: The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves went with the cut bait and tear it down approach, while the Phillies attempted to squeeze every bit of success possible out of an aging roster before waiving the white flag. After the analysis, I’ll grade them—and you should too by posting in the comments.