December 02, 2016
The Phillies got the arbitration process started by tendering contracts to three of their players eligible: shortstop Freddy Galvis, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, and right-handed reliever Jeanmar Gomez.
Meanwhile, Cody Asche, arbitration eligible for the first time and designated for assignment earlier Friday afternoon, was non-tendered and immediately became a free agent. The Phils announced the decision at 8 p.m. Friday, which was the tender deadline for MLB teams and their arbitration-eligible players.
The Phillies could have attempted to trade Asche before 8 p.m., but instead allowed the former starting third baseman to become a free agent. It’s unclear what a trade of Asche could have brought back, but it seems like the organization did him a solid in letting him pick his next team.
Galvis and Hernandez, the Phillies' double-play combination for the better part of the last two seasons, were obvious candidates to be tendered contracts on Friday. Both are young, talented, and fairly inexpensive. (We examined more of their plusses and minuses earlier).
Gomez, like Asche, could have been non-tendered simply because his luck on the mound ran out in ugly fashion in the season’s final six weeks. He had a 13.20 ERA in his final 19 games when opponents hit .403 against him with a .469 OBP. (Again, we looked at more of his 2016 numbers earlier).
But the Phillies apparently valued his veteran presence in an improving bullpen enough in 2016 to retain him for 2017. It’s far less certain, however, that Gomez will return to his role as closer after saving 37 games last year … but then losing the job in the season’s final week.
General manager Matt Klentak was asked about the uncertainty at closer at last month’s General Managers Meetings.
“Some of it might depend on what we do this winter, which players we bring in from the outside,” Klentak said. “Obviously Jeanmar saved 30-plus games last year and for five months was very good at it. Hector Neris has shown he has the stuff to do it. I think (Edubray) Ramos has shown he has the stuff to do it, too. We just have to wait to see what else we bring in from the outside.”
Perhaps Klentak will have more clarity following the Winter Meetings, which begin in suburban Washington, D.C., on Monday.
The annual offseason event brings all of baseball into one venue and is often filled with both hot stove chatter and rapid player movement, too. Two years ago, the Phillies traded Jimmy Rollins at the Winter Meetings in San Diego; last year, they laid the groundwork for the Ken Giles trade before departing Nashville.
On Friday, the Phillies at least found a little more clarity and cost certainty for their 2017 payroll. According to MLBTradeRumors.com arbitration projections, the trio of Galvis, Hernandez, and Gomez could earn a combined $11.5 million in 2017.
If you use that figure as an accurate estimate, then the Phillies would have roughly just under $70 million currently committed to their payroll (not including the contract renewals of players making close to the league minimum). The takeaway there: they still have an awful lot of flexibility to be more active in trade and free agency talks in the coming months.
With that said, the rebuilding Phillies aren't major players for any of the higher-priced, marquee free agents available this winter.