Phillies Sign Billingsley
They hope Chad Billingsley can be that guy.
The team announced Thursday night it signed Billingsley, 30, to a one-year, $1.5 million contract, which includes performance bonuses. Billingsley has pitched just 12 innings in the big leagues since 2012 because of elbow injuries, but he passed his physical and the Phillies hope he could be in the big leagues by late April.
“He’s a bounce back candidate,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We’re cautiously optimistic that it’s a good risk. If healthy and if he bounces back close to where he has been in the past, he’s a very solid middle-to-upper rotation type pitcher.”
If everybody is healthy and nobody is traded by Opening Day, the Phillies’ rotation is expected to include Hamels, Lee, Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams and David Buchanan. Billingsley could bump Buchanan at some point. And if Billingsley pitches well, who knows? They might be able to spin him off to a contending team in July.
Again, all that is only if he is healthy and returns to prior form.
Billingsley had Tommy John surgery in April 2013 and surgery to repair his right flexor tendon last June. But before that his 73 wins from 2007-12 ranked 20th in baseball. His 3.65 ERA ranked 27th out of 89 qualifying pitchers.
“We’re going to make sure that we take our time with him,” Amaro said. “We want to make sure he’s healthy when he’s pitching in Philadelphia. We’re not going to rush him. If he continues in a straight line we’re hopeful that by late April or early May he’s ready to pitch for us.”
The Phillies designated left-hander Cesar Jimenez for assignment to make room for Billingsley on the 40-man roster. Billinsgley will wear No. 38, which had been Kyle Kendrick’s number since 2007.
Kendrick is a free agent and will not return.