If Phillies fans are wondering why the club has stayed away from top-tier free agents this off-season, Ruben Amaro explains why the club has been reluctant to cut deals with the most expensive players available.
“Why spend money if you don’t think the money will be well spent?” Amaro said. “I’m not comfortable going the extra mile with some of these guys.”
Considering the length and the amount of money Scott Boras is asking for outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and what he scored for center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, you can’t blame the Phillies general manager, who has a team that appears to be more than one player away from contending, for staying away from the top catches on the market.
It wouldn’t be easy for the beleaguered general manager to sign those players seeking long term agreements since he’s hamstrung by lengthy contracts to an abundance of aging players.
So the Phillies’ free agent acquisitions figure to be limited to Carlos Ruiz, Marlon Byrd and Roberto Hernandez, who signed a one-year $4.5 million deal, after going 6-13 with a 4.89 ERA with Tampa Bay last season.
“We believe Roberto Hernandez will help us,” Amaro said. “Our scouts looked at the back-end starters and felt he would be a good choice for us.”
The team figures to stay about $20 million below the luxury tax threshold, which is at $189 million.
“The Phillies don’t need any more long-term deals,” an NL scout said. “They have enough long-term contracts. That’s a big part of the problem. The other issue they have is not developing good, young, free talent. They need to improve their farm system. When they get out from under their predicament with old, expensive players and develop some kids, they’ll have money to spend and get on the right track. It’s a challenging time for the Phillies.”
The Phillies finalized their coaching staff by naming John Mizerock their assistant hitting instructor. Mizerock, who managed the AA Wilmington Blue Rocks for two stints, was promoted from hitting instructor for Clearwater.
The Phillies also signed four players to minor league contracts, including former farmhand Lou Marson, who was traded to Cleveland, along with Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp and Jason Donald, for Cliff Lee in 2009. Marson, who hit .217 in parts of five seasons for the Tribe, was shuttled between the majors and the minors over the last half-decade.
Tony Gwynn Jr., Sean O’ Sullivan and Dave Sappelt also signed with the Phillies.
Sebastian Valle, who was once the number three prospect in the Phillies organization, is no longer with the club. Valle was cut to make room for Hernandez.
“Your farm system is the key,” the NL scout said. “The Phillies haven’t fared so well, while such franchises as Washington, St. Louis and Texas have fared well. The Phillies have to address that problem.”