The deadline was midnight last night for the Phillies to tender contracts to their five arbitration eligible players. The five were Antonio Bastardo, Kevin Frandsen, Kyle Kendrick, John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Revere. Ruben Amaro Jr. had already made his intentions known as it pertained to tendering Kendrick, who will receive the largest pay day of the group. Revere was a lock to get tendered, and Bastardo was as close to a lock as you can get considering his performance and the Phils lack of bullpen depth.
The question marks in the group were Kevin Frandsen and John Mayberry Jr. Last night Frandsen agreed to a one-year, $900,000 offer. Frandsen, who will be 32 this May had an excellent 2012 in which he batted .338 in 210 plate appearances. Last year, in 278 plate appearances his batting average dropped off to .234, 25 points below his career batting average. Apparently Frandsen’s ability to play three IF positions and respectable pinch hitting was enough to convince the Phils brain trust he should be kept on. As a pinch hitter Frandsen hit .250 with a .393 slugging percentage last year. This probably gave him a small edge over a younger player such as Cesar Hernandez, who probably couldn’t adapt to a pinch hitting role as well as the veteran Frandsen.
It probably didn’t hurt Frandsen’s cause that he accepted just $50,000 more than last season, well below what he would have received in arbitration. Had the Phils not signed Frandsen early there’s a good chance he wouldn’t have been tendered at all. As a 2nd year arbitration eligible player, service time alone would have netted him a much larger contract.
John Mayberry Jr.’s tender probably raised the most eyebrows throughout the league and Delaware Valley. Mayberry will likely earn $1,500,000 at a minimum this year. He’ll probably make a little more as it’s doubtful the two sides will actually end up going through arbitration and will negotiate a new contract between now and the hearings scheduled for the first week in February. Mayberry’s BA, OBP and SLG % have all dropped the last two years. Until 2013 he was a strong stick against left hand pitching, but last year he dropped to .240/.296/.460 against lefties. In 2011 his line against LHP read .306/.358/.595. In 2012 those number had dropped, but were still respectable – .271/.317/.494.
Mayberry has been given multiple opportunities to win an outfield job with the Phils, but his offense continues to regress as he heads into his age 30 season. His ability to play all three outfield positions and 1B is probably a strong reason he was tendered, but according to baseball-reference.com his dWAR last year was -2.1, by far the worst of his career. It’s also somewhat surprising he’s returning considering Amaro’s post season remarks about the Phils outfield. Amaro specifically stated upgrading the outfield defense and getting more athletic outfielders as two of his goals this offseason. How does bringing back Mayberry fit in with those stated goals?
There are likely several more moves to be made, but no one is expecting anything earth shattering at this time. Currently the bench looks to be Frandsen, Galvis, Ruf, Mayberry and whoever the backup catcher job goes to. Other than adding Byrd in RF the starting eight will be the same as the 2013 team also. Currently, the rotation will set up with Hamels and Lee at the top followed by Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Kyle Kendrick and Jonathan Pettibone. With Tyler Cloyd gone and Adam Morgan coming back from shoulder issues, where’s the depth behind those five starters should one or more go down?
To be fair Amaro isn’t done piecing together his 2014 club. On his shopping list is still a late inning reliever and a starting pitcher. Amaro would probably like to add two relievers, but if a 2nd reliever is added it’s most likely going to be a reclamation project or some other low cost option. Currently, the Phils have committed $136,200,000 to 10 players. Once Kendrick, Revere and the pre-arbitration eligible players are signed that will push the committed dollars up to $152,000,000 with three slots to fill. It’s doubtful Amaro goes right up to edge of the tax as that would leave him no room to maneuver should a deal need to be made mid-season. Assuming a $5,000,000 cushion Amaro will have approximately $22-23 million left to fill out the pitching staff.
I don’t remember the exact quote, but Amaro mentioned this was going to be a winter where he needed to get creative as the Phils GM to field a competitive team in 2014. The Ruiz and Byrd signings didn’t show much creativity, nor does bringing back at least 80% of the 2013 bench. Unless Amaro is playing possum and has a big deal up his sleeve, the 2014 Phillies will rely on the mantra of “If everybody stays healthy we can be competitive.” While that statement may be true, since 1900 only four teams have gone to war with five position players age 34 and up who all played in at least 125 games.
I sure hope the Phils are the 5th team or this is going to be another long year. It may be a long year anyway with the 2013 Phils finishing seven games ahead of their Pythagorean W-L record of 66-96 and very few changes made to the roster, bench, rotation or bullpen. But if they all stay healthy…