Yesterday, we learned the Phillies did not tender a contract to outfielder Nate Schierholtz. With that move, the Phillies sit at 37 players on their 40-man roster and now have some wiggle-room to address their needs at third base, center field, and pitching.
If you’ve read my posts before, I love talking about non-tenders, non-roster invitees, and other roster minutia. I also love shopping at discount stores for bargains and then comparing my shopping experiences to baseball transactions. Monitoring the non-tender wire helps give me that fix. Here are players other teams non-tendered that would be worth a Minor League contract and an invite to Spring Training.
Wow – have the Nationals built up that good of a quality rotation that they’re letting Lannan walk? While Phillies fans remember Lannan as the guy who broke Utley’s hand midway through his MVP run of 2007, and maybe cost the Phillies the 2007 World Series, Lannan has been a consistent workhorse, whose career ERA+ is a plenty good 103. Lannan got squeezed out of the Nats rotation just a year after putting up a 3.70 ERA and is only 27. If you’re not comfortable with Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick, or Tyler Cloyd, this is the bargain you look at first.
Oramas spent six seasons in the Padres system after signing as a teenage free agent out of Mexico. Oramas was on the fast track to reaching the Majors as a starter but has been slowed by bone spurs as recently as August 2012. Oramas is just 5’10 but drew comparisons to Fernando Valenzuela for his use of breaking pitches and his non-reliance on power. Oramas would be my one, no-doubt-about-it project signing. Oramas is only 22 and already has pitched in Triple-A – he should be ready to go after healing from bone spurs and this would be quite the nice, under-the-radar pick up on a Minor League deal. It is unknown which role Oramas would settle into as he has been more of a swing-man than not during his Minor League career.
Perez was non-tendered by the Cleveland Indians yesterday after a season where he pitched in just eight games due to a strained lat. In 329 career Major League innings, Perez has 268 Ks and a 3.64 ERA, pitching only for the Indians in the American League. Since 2010, Perez relied heavily on his mid-80s slider, which is his only truly plus pitch. Perez has a record of being an innings eater, appearing in more than 50 games in four out of the last five seasons and 70 games in three of those. According to FanGraphs, last season was the only year that Perez did not provide positive value to the Indians – in a small sample last year, Perez saw a sharp increase in fly balls and a sharp decrease in ground balls. If Perez has a healthy lat, a working slider and pitches close to his 54.5% GB%, he would be worth a long look for Philadelphia.
Can you believe Moylan is already 33? Time flies, right? Listen, Moylan is a little older but has a career 2.59 ERA and looked sharp (1.80 ERA in 5 IP) in his return from injury last year. This is a flyer you take every time if you can. If the Phillies eliminate some of the bullpen logjam by trading away some of their young pieces, I would look to refill the stockpile with a guy like Moylan, who relies on a low 90s fastball, high 80s slider combo to induce a lot of ground balls.
Admittedly, the list of capable third baseman who were non-tendered is a little thin and adding a guy who has struck out over 200 times in a season three times is often less than desirable, however Reynolds can mash, mash, and mash. Did I mention he can hit for power? Reynolds has a very nice career .475 SLG%, which is even crazier when you compare it to his .235 BA and find out that he has a career .240 ISO. Reynolds barely makes this list, as he fits the Phillies right-handed power needs, but also barely plays third base any more. Reynolds unfortunately won’t come cheap either but if the Phillies are serious about adding power, and punting things like batting average and defense, they should at least call Reynolds.
When compiling this list, I tried to avoid listing players I thought would be simply nice to invite to camp and include only players that I thought could contribute on Day 1 and make the team. Hence, no Ryan Sweeney on this list. Despite how much I like him in a bench role, the Phillies don’t have a bench role to give. Snyder is my one guilty pleasure in this year’s crop of non-tenders. Snyder was the Orioles’ first round pick in 2005 and just turned 26. He’s spent only parts of three seasons in the Big Leagues but is: 1. right handed, 2. powerful, 3. an outfielder, and 4. can fake catcher and third base if needed. Snyder reminds me a lot of another former Orioles first-round pick, Jayson Werth, but without the speed. In the minors, Snyder walked a lot and struck out very little – he could be a diamond in the rough for whoever ends up signing him. I’m not sure the Phillies would take a chance on a project with the possibility of the projects that are Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown manning the corners.
If the Phillies can’t get Angel Pagan, why not settle for the player he was traded for? Ok, bad example but Torres has some value, particularly on a cheap deal and in the event they swing and miss acquiring any center fielders. Torres hit .230/.327/.337 and won’t get embarrassed playing center field. Torres should be Plan C or D.
With the unfortunate suspension of Chooch, the Phillies enter 2013 with Erik Kratz as their likely starting catcher. If Soto is cheap, read: as close to the league minimum as possible, he would be a nice target to bring to camp. But, much like Reynolds, enough other teams are interested in Soto that a bargain is probably not to be had here. Since winning the NL Rookie of the Year in 2008, Soto’s numbers have tail-spinned downward but turns only 30 next season and would be worth a gamble for team who needs a starter and doesn’t have any young talent to bring up.
Players to Avoid
Not every deal is a good one just because it is cheap. Here are a few of the non-tenders I would avoid that look like bargains on the surface: Jaye Chapman, Jesus Flores, Ben Francisco, Tom Gorzalanny, Jair Jurrjens, Ian Stewart, Ryan Sweeney