Today is the deadline for teams around baseball to decide if they are going to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players not already signed to contracts. For the Phillies, Ruben Amaro must make decisions on five key players today: Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, Ben Revere, John Mayberry Jr., and Kevin Frandsen.
And really, four of these five players should be easy calls.
KYLE KENDRICK - TENDER
As much as some of us are tired of Kendrick, this one is a no-brainer. When you look at some of the deals pitchers who are either similar to Kendrick or are a little worse or getting, you realize that having him on a one-year deal at about $6-7 million is a steal.
Over the weekend, Minnesota signed Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24 million contract. Jason Vargas got a four-year $32 million deal. And when you compare their numbers, Kendrick is, by far, the best option.
Kendrick's fWAR trumps Hughes and Vargas, and he also posted the best FIP and xFIP of the three. He's also two years younger than Vargas and just one year older than Hughes. Not only that, Hughes and Vargas are both going to cost their teams $8 million a year for the next three and four years, respectively.
Kendrick only requires a one year commitment at around $6-7 million. In this free agent market, Kendrick would likely get exactly what Hughes and Vargas got, which makes tendering him a one-year deal an absolute steal.
ANTONIO BASTARDO - TENDER
I speculated just after the season that the Phillies could non-tender Bastardo, mainly out of anger over his out-of-nowhere BioGenesis suspension, which appeared to catch the team completely off-guard, according to CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he was cryptically tipped off by Bastardo that something was up, but even then the GM didn’t know the lefty was tied up in the Biogenesis investigation.
"He made a … I talked with him the night before and he said there may be something that goes on here," Amaro said. "That was the only real heads-up I had. I don’t think the player has to tell us anything. He mentioned to me that something might be going on Sunday … so I had an idea that something might be going on."
Yeah, they weren't real happy with Tony, there. Still, time heals all wounds and it appears that the Phils are planning on tendering Bastardo a one-year deal, which makes total sense from a purely baseball perspective.
In 42 2/3 innings last year, Bastardo posted an ERA of 2.32, a FIP of 3.00 and an xFIP of 4.09. His K/9 were down from 14.02 in 2012 to 9.91, while he continued to walk a high number of hitters, 4.43 per nine. But Bastardo is still just 27 years old and, despite his control issues, knows how to get both left-handers and right-handers out. When he's throwing strikes, he's unhittable.
Bastardo made around $1.4 million last year, so a raise to about $2-3 million next year is still really cheap for a young, effective relief pitcher under team control, even one coming off a PED suspension. You want to acquire young relievers on short deals like Bastardo, not release them. However, if the team's anger still burns bright, they could also easily trade him at that price.
BEN REVERE - TENDER
One year after being acquired by the Phils for Vance Worley and Trevor May, Revere's name has been mentioned as a potential trade piece this off-season, as the Phillies consider upgrading in center field. Revere had a horrific April (.200/.234/.222) but came alive in May (.347/.380/.404 in 240 PAs) before fouling a ball off his foot and ending his season. However, the team was a bit disappointed by his defense in center, despite the occasional sensational play.
For the season, Revere hit .305/.338/.352 and posted an fWAR of 0.9, while also adding 22 steals. His offensive game, however, is quite limiting, relying on finding holes and hitting the ball on the ground to get on base. He only walked in 5.5% of his at-bats last year, and posted a BABIP of .344. Of course, a speedy player like Revere who hits line drives and puts the ball on the ground is more likely to sustain a high BABIP, so perhaps his numbers are repeatable.
However, if the Phils are going to upgrade in center, non-tendering Revere isn't the way to do it. They will sign him to a one-year tender and, if they get a deal they like in which they can move him, they will. Or, they'll just keep him in center and go with an outfield of Byrd, Revere and Brown.
Either way, the Phillies will give Revere a one-year deal. Last year, he made $515,000 and is probably worth somewhere around $1-2 million in 2014.
JOHN MAYBERRY JR - NON-TENDER
This is the toughest decision of the five players on whom the Phillies must make a decision. When used correctly, Mayberry is a good right-handed bat off the bench against left-handed pitchers. In his career, Mayberry hits lefties to the tune of .274/.321/.526, whereas against righties he's .228/.295/.373. He's also been miscast, mostly out of necessity, as a back-up center fielder and every day player. He isn't any of those things.
However, if used correctly, which he hasn't been while in Philadelphia, Mayberry could provide value to a team as a right-handed bat off the bench and a fourth or fifth outfielder who plays against left-handed pitching.
Even though the Phillies already have a right-handed bench bat in Darin Ruf, Ruf cannot fake center field as well as Mayberry can. And if the Phils don't find a true back-up center fielder, like a Franklin Gutierrez or something, they may be forced to bring Mayberry back.
Still, I think the Phillies are ready to cut ties with Mayberry and will let him hit the open market, looking for a back-up center fielder upgrade. I also don't think Mayberry has a ton of trade value, either, making a tender even more unnecessary.
KEVIN FRANDSEN - NON-TENDER
We all like Kevin Frandsen. I mean, he has pine tar all over his helmet, he gets dirty, and for a while there, he was a hit machine, hitting .338/.383/.451 in 210 PAs in 2012. He got off to hot start this year as well, hitting .286/.348/.381 in 23 April plate appearances.
Eventually Frandsen came back down to earth, finishing the season with a .234/.296/.341 slash line in 278 PAs. The Phillies appear ready to give the everyday third base job to either Cody Asche or Maikel Franco, and they already have a solid back-up third base option in Freddy Galvis.
Frandsen appears to be an easy non-tender call, albeit one that will make all the ladies weep.
So, it looks like keeping Kendrick, Bastardo and Revere are the obvious moves, while non-tendering Frandsen seems easy as well. The only real suspense should be over what to do with Mayberry. The Phillies must decide Monday just what they're going to do.