Is KK part of the plan? (PHOTO: AP)
It’s time to roll out the offseason plans, where a few members of the PN writing team build their ideal 2014 Phillies Roster, taking into account team needs as well as payroll and luxury tax ramifications.
-Sign Dioner Navarro (2 years, $8 million with third option), let Carlos Ruiz walk
This is a hard move, but one that has to be made. Chooch struggled initially upon his return in 2013 following the 25-game suspension, but hit his stride toward the end of the year. Certainly, there are many issues working against him, the worst of them being age and money.
Ruiz will be 35 this season and could command a two-year contract with some sort of third year option. The Phillies cannot continue to take major risks on aging players, no matter who they are. At some point, the loyalty issue needs to be set aside and it may have to start with one of the biggest fan faves.
Enter Dioner Navarro. He had a resurgent season in 2013 with the Cubs, hitting 13 homers and finishing with a .300 average. His .365 OBP was a career best. Perhaps he’s peaking just in time for free agency, however, at roughly five years younger than Ruiz, I’ll take the risk. Cameron Rupp can platoon with something like a 92/70 game split.
I’m not thrilled with going four or five years for Jarrod Saltalamachia, who was routinely a league average player (total WAR 5.1 over just seasons) before his breakout in Boston. Brian McCann should remain out of the Phillies thoughts as he’s hitting 30 and will command a massive contract.
The infield would consist of Navarro, Rupp, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Asche, Galvis. I have Cesar Hernandez on the roster, as well, but as a fifth outfielder that can also play infield.
(Note: Asche is likely to be the everyday third baseman; I feel as thought he’s earned that. A wrench could be thrown into that plan should Maikel Franco tear the cover off the ball in Clearwater. If so, Ashce could work his way to the outfield.)
-Sign Masahiro Tanaka 6 years, $80 million ($85 million post doesn’t not count against luxury tax)
Hell, it’s not my money. The posting fee just to talk to the 25-year old will be something in the range of $75 million. Bid $85 million of those dollars you’ll be getting from the new TV deal, Phillies, and don’t look back.
Tanaka will give the Phillies a long-term solution for when Cliff Lee moves on in a few years. He went undefeated over a full season in Japan and is said to be on the same playing field as Yu Darvish. Sign me up.
-Sign Jose Veras (2 years, $9 million) and Matt Thornton (1 year, $1 million)
The Phillies, plain and simple, need bullpen arms. They need to take risks and hope they pan out. Thornton is just that, a risk. But it shouldn’t cost more than a one-year deal and he’s left-handed. Thornton’s swing-and-miss rates have gone down, but if he can be a situational guy, perhaps that can be forgotten. There’s no telling what the Phillies will receive from Anotnio Bastardo this year after his late-season suspension. Jake Diekman looks to finally be the real deal, so having three semi-reliable lefties can be a boon.
Veras had 19 saves and a 2.93 ERA in 42 games with Houston before being dealt to the contending Tigers. He wasn’t as dominant with Detroit, but pitched well down the stretch of the regular season. In six postseason games, he struck out nine batters. The Phillies need arms. Here are two.
-Sign Joaquin Benoit (2 years, $18 million)
Not sure of the odds of this happening, but the Phillies need a plan in place in case Jonathan Papelbon continues to head south. Benoit is one of the finest pitchers on the market and can be the best 8th inning option in baseball. However, would he want to be paid like a closer? And is that his ultimate goal?
$18 million is a lot money at a guy who won’t be the close, but I also would not object to trading away Papelbon this offseason and making Benoit the guy in the ninth. If Papelbon stays, and pitches up to his contract, then Benoit is a great 8th inning presence and would push the Phillies bullpen to new heights. Here’s what it would look like: Papelbon, Benoit, Veras, Diekman, Thornton, Bastardo, De Fratus, Martin. Add Mike Adams into the mix if he ever returns.
-Sign Chris Young (OF, Contract: 2 years, $10 million)
(Note: this was written before the signing of Marlon Byrd. And I stand by this being the right move over giving Byrd $16 million over two seasons. Young brings more upside, is cheaper, still hits for power, and is much younger. Below is what I had written literally 24 hours before the Byrd signing).
I really like the right-handed power Young brings, plus his ability to play all three outfield spots with ease. Without a dearth of right-handed power on the free agent market, Young would certainly provide the Phillies a spark in the department, plus allow the Phillies to move on from the John Mayberry experience. It was just two years ago Young was a 5 WAR player so this is a risk worth taking.
The unknown part is whether or not Young will get offers to be a full-time player. It seems unlikely after he hit just .200 last season in Oakland. But I’m willing to put down $10 million and hope for Young to a wild card; a guy who reverts to previous levels and that won’t break the bank.
I’m also not asking him to be an everyday guy. He can swing through all outfield positions with Brown, Revere and Ruf, especially when Ruf plays first base for Ryan Howard. Cesar Hernandez would be the fifth OF in 2014.
-Non-Tender Kyle Kendrick, John Mayberry Jr.
Ruben Amaro stated publicly, and adamantaly I might add, that Kendrick would be back. Why? There are pitchers hanging from the pitcher tree that all do the same thing as Kendrick that would cost much, much less. It seems likely Kendrick will be back, but this is my plan and he’s not part of it. That’s not to say Kendrick would not be able to help the team; however if it’s going to cost $7-8 million, then it’s just not cost-effective. There is little-to-no upside left with K.K.
My rotation without Kendrick would look like this: Lee, Hamels, Tanaka, M.A. Gonzalez, Pettibone. If Pettibone is better suited in the minors, then the fifth starter position can be filled with a cheap free agent on a one-year deal.
Mayberry’s shtick has become old. He’s now 30 and hasn’t gotten any better. He’s reliable in the field, and at all positions, but it’s not going to get any better. I’d rather there be a guy like Young in the fold who at least has upside and has proven the ability to hit for power with regularity. I once fought tooth and nail for Mayberry to be a starter and he did me wrong. Not again.
Infield: Navarro, Rupp, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Asche, Galvis
Outfield: Brown, Revere, Ruf, Chris Young, C. Hernandez
Starters: Lee, Hamels, Tanaka, M.A. Gonzalez, Pettibone
Relievers: Papelbon, Benoit, Veras, Diekman, Thornton, Bastardo, De Fratus, Martin
After winning the battle of the Phillies Nation writers last year with my still-less-than-productive offseason plan, I’m mostly taking the same approach. The Phillies cannot tie themselves into long-term deals with players over 30. They need to go deeper into the pocket for smaller-term deals and I think I’ve achieved that with my pla. I’ve also managed to stay below the $189 million luxury tax threshold, which is key.
The plan for the Phillies should be to build through the system and hope that some of the players signed this offseason will help them turn it around enough to squeeze out a playoff spot. There is no true quick fix here. Money can’t be thrown at the issue as it was in previous seasons. They’ll need to stay true to the idea that four, five, and six year deals for 30-and-older players is bad.
My total payroll is at $162 million, lower than Ian, Corey, and Eric. It’s also far removed from the luxury tax. There aren’t many free agents that fit this team that I’m in love with which the Phillies should throw wild contracts at. While I am a fan of Jacoby Ellsbury, locking him into a six-year pact worth over $100 million isn’t a prudent move for a team with too many 30-somethings already. There’s no quick fix here anyway, so save the money, find some new free agents in a year. Don’t spend just to spend.