Looking Ahead: Six Free Agents, Three Arbitration Eligible Players
You probably still have your NLCS hangover, but I thought I’d give everybody a quick look at the Phillies’ offseason. They have six potential free agents and three players eligible for salary arbitration.
Here is a look:
– Jayson Werth. The Phillies and Werth are going to say the right things in the coming weeks. The Phillies are going to say they would love to bring back Werth, which is true. And Werth is going to say he wants to come back, which also is true. But the reality is different. The Phillies already have more than $145 million committed to 16 players in 2011, and Werth is going to be one of the top free agents on the market. Ruben Amaro Jr. has said several times the Phillies can’t have a roster full of $15 million-a-year players, which is what Werth could be making soon. Outfielder Jason Bay received a four-year, $66 million contract from the New York Mets last winter. Werth should command more. Bay hit .267 with a .362 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage in the three seasons leading to free agency. Werth hit .279 with a .376 on-base percentage and a .513 slugging percentage the past three seasons. The numbers show Werth is a better hitter than Bay. He also is a better fielder and base runner. And there seems to be little doubt Scott Boras, who is Werth’s agent, will be seeking the big-time deal Werth has waited his entire career for.
– J.C. Romero. The Phillies have a $4.5 million club option on Romero, but it is unlikely to be exercised. The Phillies are expected to rely next season on Antonio Bastardo instead. And while Romero went 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA the last two seasons, he also missed time with injuries and has walked (42) more hitters than he has struck out (42).
– Jose Contreras. The Phillies would like to bring back Contreras, but he has raised his stock. He went 6-4 with a 3.34 ERA and four saves this season. The Phillies could find themselves in a situation similar to last offseason with Chan Ho Park. Park pitched well in 2009 and tried to get a bigger contract than the Phillies wanted to pay. Park ended up signing with the New York Yankees for less money than the Phillies offered, but the point here is Contreras could be a tough sign. One thing that could help the Phillies? Contreras’ relationship with Danys Baez, who is signed next season. Contreras and Baez are Cuban and best friends.
– Chad Durbin. He went 4-1 with a 3.80 ERA this season. He has been steady and reliable and the Phillies certainly could use him. But this could be Durbin’s only opportunity to land a multiyear contract as an established reliever. How much will the Phillies want to spend on Durbin? Would Durbin take less money from the Phillies to stay? “My gut says its 50-50,” Durbin said.
– Jamie Moyer. Moyer, who will turn 48 next month, is unlikely to return, unless the Phillies bring him back on a Minor League deal. He is coming off a left elbow injury that forced him to miss the final two months of the season and entire postseason. It also is fair to wonder if the relationship between Moyer and management has strained after he criticized Phillies president David Montgomery and Amaro in 2009, when the Phillies moved him into the bullpen to make room for Pedro Martinez. Regardless, I just don’t see the Phillies giving Moyer a contract based on his age and health.
– Mike Sweeney. He was a nice clubhouse addition, but he seems unlikely to return. The Phillies like bench players with versatility. And with Ryan Howard expected to play every day at first base, Sweeney would be a pinch-hitter and little else. The Phillies saw what happened to Matt Stairs in 2009, when he got no playing time. His numbers suffered. You have to think the Phillies will be thinking of Stairs when they think about Sweeney.
SALARY ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE
Greg Dobbs: It seems unlikely the Phillies tender Dobbs a contract. His production has dropped considerably the past two seasons, although Charlie Manuel has acknowledged numerous times that cutting Dobbs’ playing time has hurt him. But with the Phillies’ payroll already more than $145 million, I think the Phillies will look in a different direction.
Ben Francisco. He almost certainly will return. Francisco could see considerable playing time in right field next season, if the Phillies decide to stay in-house and use Francisco and perhaps rookie outfielder Domonic Brown in a platoon situation. I don’t see the Phillies letting him go, unless they sign or trade for another outfielder to replace Werth.
Kyle Kendrick. He went 11-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 33 appearances (31 starts) this season. He is due a significant raise, if offered arbitration. If the Phillies do not want to take the risk of paying Kendrick more money than they feel is appropriate, they could non-tender him and sign him back at a lesser salary. They have done similar things in the past.