Perhaps they were scared by the the PECOTA numbers.
On Thursday, the Phillies signed former Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley to a one-year, $1.5 million Major League deal, with performance bonuses that could increase the deal to $8 million. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the team announced they were designating Cesar Jimenez for assignment.
Billingsley was the last of the younger, low-risk, high-reward options left on the market. He missed all but two starts last year as he tried to come back from Tommy John surgery in 2013. However, he suffered a torn flexor tendon in his pitching elbow in June, which put him out for the rest of the season.
He's still just 29 years old, though, and is expected to be ready for spring training. From 2007-2012 he went 73-57 with a 3.65 ERA, a FIP of 3.56. He has struck out 8.2 batters per nine innings throughout his career and walked 3.6 per nine.
Billingsley is exactly the kind of pitcher the Phils should have been targeting. He's on a one-year deal that, if he's healthy, could provide the Phils with some cheap, effective innings in 2015. If he's good enough, he could also turn into a valuable trade chip in July.
Even though the Phillies have admitted that 2015 is a rebuilding year, the rotation was looking pretty barren after starters Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, with Jerome Williams, Aaron Harang and David Buchanan manning the last three spots.
The Phils would probably expect Billingsley to take one of those three spots. The odd man out would seem to be Buchanan, as Billingsley is set to make $1.5 million, Williams is signed for $2.5 million and Harang is signed for $5 million. Buchanan, meanwhile, is still pre-arbitration eligible.
Here are some other fun-filled Chad Billingsley nuggets.
Billingsley facts: Comes from a place called Defiance, (Ohio). Started against Phils, Hamels in '08 NLCS clincher. Not related to Peter.— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) January 30, 2015
And a reminder that the Phils beat the tar out of him in the 2008 NLCS Playoffs.
Man, that was fun.
Signing Billingsley is a smart move for a team looking to keep their financial commitments low, both for this year and in future years. Once again, a nice job by the Phils' front office this off-season.