In Wigginton, the Phils get much of what they wanted from Michael Cuddyer for a fraction of the cost. Wigginton, like Cuddyer, can play first base, third base and both corner outfield positions, and even though Charlie Manuel would never use either player at second base, Wigginton has also played there in the past.
Wigginton is under contract for $4 million in 2012, then has a $4 million club option in 2013 with a $500,000 buyout.
Here is how the deal works: the Phillies and Rockies will split Wigginton’s 2012 salary, each paying $2 million. If the Phillies exercise Wigginton’s 2013 option, they will be forced to send Colorado a second player to be named later (who wouldn’t be a big-time prospect) or $100,000.
This was a good job by Amaro of feeling out the market and playing to others’ weaknesses. The Rockies were looking to shed salary and Dan O’Dowd wasn’t looking for nearly as much as he was in July. To acquire a poor man’s Cuddyer for 1/18th the cost, that’s a nice move.
Wigginton hit .242/.315/.416 for the Rockies last year and his numbers are almost identical to that over a three-year sample. Since 2008, he has hit 23, 11, 22 and 15 home runs.
Against lefthanded pitching for his career, Wigginton is a .274/.353/.461 hitter. To contextualize that .814 OPS, Wigginton’s career lefty splits are almost identical to how Chipper Jones performed against all pitching in 2011.
As stated above, Wigginton is essentially a poor man’s Cuddyer, and he is paid as such. But the difference in cost is vaster than the difference in talent — i.e. Cuddyer would have been overpaid no matter what he would have added, whereas Wigginton will either outperform the $4 million or hit .242/.315/.416 and we won’t really care.
By making the trade, Ruben Amaro has taken another step toward filling out the team’s potential 25-man roster. After the arbitration cases take place, the Phils will have about $157 million committed to 22 players. The only remaining holes are shortstop and two bullpen spots. If the Phillies want to avoid exceeding the luxury tax threshold, they have between $18-20 million more to spend.
My final thought on the Wigginton trade: of late, Ruben Amaro has been criticized (rightfully) for acting too fast and not adjusting once he sets his sights on a player. It was very, very encouraging to see him realize that the pricetag on Cuddyer was way too high and creatively find a new option.
To sign Cuddyer to something like three years, $38 million would have been shortsighted. Cuddyer would have been good the first year, decent for maybe half of the second year and by the middle of the third year we’d be complaining. Amaro just shed himself of Raul Ibanez’ deal… why sign another aging player to a high cost multi-year deal so quickly?
Is Wigginton an impact player? No. But he will add more than someone like John Bowker would during the period in which Ryan Howard is sidelined. Wigginton can also spell Placido Polanco and take over when he inevitably gets hurt, and will actually provide offensive value as a replacement unlike Michael Martinez and Wilson Valdez.
Amaro is acting fast this offseason. The Phils entered with a bevy of question marks and could be finished dealing by the first week of December.