Ruben Amaro and Jimmy Rollins both spoke to the media Tuesday, outlining potential plans for a crucial offseason.
Rollins reiterated his desire for a five-year deal, though conceded that he would take a four-year deal with an option. The option, however, would have to be his option, not one belonging to the team. Team options often go unexercised, meaning that the player is bought out of the last year of his deal for a significantly smaller amount. Examples would be Roy Oswalt, who has a $16MM mutual option for 2012 with a buyout of $2MM, and Brad Lidge, who has a $12.5 million team option with a buyout of $1.5MM. Oswalt and Lidge will almost certainly not have their options picked up.
This is the kind of scenario Rollins wishes to avoid, and he can do so by fighting for a player option — which he’d control — or a vesting option — controlled by things like amount of plate appearances or games played in the previous year(s). Rollins acknowledged that he cannot see himself in another uniform and that there is a “good chance” he’ll strike a deal with the Phillies, but he has made clear time and again that his last contract will be all about years and money, not friendship or loyalty. He’s certainly entitled to that.
Amaro stated that he’d fill the closer’s role with a veteran, either Ryan Madson or otherwise. Madson will be the second-best free agent closer this winter in a market of many. At 31, he is younger than Heath Bell (34), Jose Valverde (34) and Francisco Cordero (37), and is coming off of a season more productive than all options other than Jonathan Papelbon, also 31.
By quick count, and assuming Valverde re-signs with the Tigers, eleven teams need closers. Of those eleven, it is unlikely that Houston, San Diego or Baltimore makes a strong push. One sleeper to watch out for is the new-look Marlins, whom MLB.com beat writer Joe Frisaro noted could make a run at Madson.
If the Phillies do fall short of Madson’s and agent Scott Boras’ demands, which is a virtual certainty given the team’s reluctance to hand four- or five-year deals even to starting pitchers, Heath Bell would be a nice option at three years.
Or if Papelbon’s time in Boston is indeed over, maybe the Phils feel more comfortable with him. Papelbon has said that for him, it’s not about the money, it’s about going to a place where he feels he can contend for a championship.
Amaro went on to say that the plan for Domonic Brown is to give him a full year in Triple-A. Many have already expressed disdain over this comment, but if you really think about it, it makes sense. Brown has only 69 games and 292 Triple-A plate appearances under his belt, and it’s not as if he has wowed us enough at the major league level to deem him instantly ready for everyday duty in left field.
Brown has been jerked around by the organization — an organization that struggles with top prospects… it probably held Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back too long — but keeping him at Lehigh Valley for the majority of 2012 wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. First off, Brown will likely outperform the competition and earn a call to the bigs in June or July. And secondly, if he produces in Triple-A like we all expect him to, not only will he be more ready for the majors but his trade value will increase should Amaro do the unthinkable and center a deal for a Matt Kemp-type around Brown.
A very interesting Tuesday morning, to say the least. Phillies Nation will update you daily on all offseason developments.