Phillies Offseason Plans: Ian’s Version – Phillies Nation

Phillies Offseason Plans: Ian’s Version

Ian's ultimate team, in pictures.

Ian’s ultimate team, in pictures.

It’s time to roll out the offseason plans, where a few members of the PN writing team build their ideal 2014 Phillies Roster, taking into account team needs as well as payroll and luxury tax ramifications.

As the undisputed loser of last season’s offseason plans, the guys let me go first this year. Like last year, I have chosen to go in quite a different direction than most of my colleagues and I tried to stick to realistic moves to help keep the Phils within the luxury tax.

Move #1: Create the ultimate catching situation – sign Dioner Navarro (two years, $6 million) AND Jarrod Saltalamacchia (four years, $40 million).

Crazy to sign two catchers? Maybe. Look, I’m not sold on Tommy Joseph being the long term answer at the catcher position and Cameron Rupp and Erik Kratz are fine back-ups but not the solution long-term.

What this move does is adds a really solid, young catcher (more opinion on Saltalamacchia here) who hits with power from the left side and a solid back-up from the right side (more opinion on Navarro here) who also has youth and experience on his side. $13 million to fill a catching spot is a lot but it is certainly a more sound investment than a Brian McCann-type signing (who I have some thoughts about here).

Strangely, I am willing to overpay for Navarro after Salty is signed to ensure this move works. The hope is that by the third or fourth year of Salty’s contract, Andrew Knapp or Gabriel Lino is ready to replace Navarro in this platoon.

Move #2: Sign Joe Smith (two years, $6 million)

Not to be confused with the former NBA #1 Overall Pick, the sidewinding-righty reliever adds depth to the Phillies bullpen. I love Smith’s ability to get batters out with ground balls and I think it will play well in the Majors’ easiest park to hit homers in.

Move #3: Sign Jacoby Ellsbury (six years, $108 million)

Ruben (or me, in this case) overbids and outbids everyone on the board, just about blowing through the luxury tax for an opportunity to win now. I love Ellsbury speed, power, and defense. I would also hang on to Ben Revere and play him in left, moving Domonic Brown to right. This was a cautious play in my Pass or Play series but I have come around to having Ellsbury long term.

Move #4: Sign Mike Morse (one year, $1 million + incentives, non-guaranteed contract)

I love Morse on a non-guaranteed deal but anticipate he will find a much better offer. If he’s available, play, play, play!

Commitments added:– Add Saltalamacchia at $10 mil per year (estimated 3.1 wins per Steamer)

– Add Navarro for $3 mil per year (0.8 wins)
– Add Smith for $3 mil per year (0.3 wins)
– Add Ellsbury for $18 mil per year (5.9 wins)
– Add Morse for $1 mil per year (0.0 wins)

And… The Resulting Roster
SP #1: Cole Hamels
SP #2: Cliff Lee
SP #3: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
SP #4: Jonathan Pettibone
SP #5: Adam Morgan
CP: Jonathan Papelbon
RP: Smith
RP: Antonio Bastardo
RP: Justin De Fratus
RP: Jake Diekman
RP: Ethan Martin
RP: Kyle Kendrick

C: Saltalamacchia
1B: Ryan Howard
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Cody Asche
SS: Jimmy Rollins
LF: Revere
CF: Ellsbury
RF: Brown

IF: Freddy Galvis
IF/OF: Cesar Hernandez
IF/OF: Darin Ruf or Morse
C: Navarro

Other commitments: Mike Adams (one year, $6 million, one year)


Contracts added: $40.5 million, less about $1.5 in arb for Revere, less about $0.6 mil for Hernandez and Martin. Added $31.9 million in contracts for 2014 with an estimated upgrade of 10.2 wins, less the departed J.C. Ramirez (-0.7 fWAR in 2013) and Luis Garcia (-0.5 WAR) in bullpen, Kendrick in the rotation (1.7 WAR), and Carlos Ruiz (1.4) for about a net 7.9 win upgrade, not including the possible added value of a move of Ben Revere from center to left and Brown from left to right, which could net them an additional win or two if both remain healthy.

Roster notes: My most extreme prediction? Morgan beats out Kendrick for a rotation spot. Ideally, I would non-tender Kendrick, but Amaro has already said the Phillies will tender Kendrick a contract. I would opt to give Howard regular rest against lefties, using either Morse or Ruf at first base. And Saltalamacchia can play some first as well on days Howard needs rest against righties. I had initially considered Mark Trumbo as a trade candidate but his estimated $5 million in arbitration and cost in young, affordable players is something that I wished to avoid.

And, there are a few familiar names missing from my roster: Kevin Frandsen and John Mayberry are the most notable non-tenders from my list. With those two gone and Chooch and Doc not coming back, that empties four 40-man roster spots. I added six players to the 40-man, resulting in a net addition of two to my team, resulting in 37 men on the 40-man roster. In addition, I would designate Zach Collier, Luis Garcia, Joe Savery, and Sebastian Valle to trim the 40-man down to 33. From a previous list, I would add Aaron Altherr, Kelly Dugan, Anthony Hewitt, Tommy Joseph, Mike Nesseth, and Rob Rasmussen, to leave one roster spot for any additional free agent I may want to add during Spring Training.

My total commitments come out to $166.15 million, including all extra costs, leaving Phillies space to make a splash if one presents itself, perhaps a pipe-dream trade for Matt Kemp if the Dodgers decide they have too many outfielders but I am not counting on something like that happening.



  1. George

    November 11, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I don’t like three unknown quantities in the starting rotation. Pettibone, who may be be okay at the back end, is coming off injury, Morgan is a rookie, Gonzales a total mystery with possible arm troubles.

    Kedrick could provide some depth, but I think more should be added.

    I also think all those millions for catching might be a misappropriation of funds. Navarro’s 2013 numbers were a small sample, and looking at his career, they seem a bit of a fluke. He’s probably little more than back-up material, which the team already has.

    I think it’s wise that you would non-tender Frandsen and Mayberry. Their pay is going up, and Frandsen can be replaced with Hernadez and Galvis, Mayberry with Ruf.

  2. Stefan Johnson

    November 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Overall, I like some of the moves, but the lineup seems too left handed, and I think we need another good starting pitcher. If possible, I would trade Brown for a good young, RH power hitter who can play defense, then sign a free agent SP or trade him for a decent SP, then sign a right fielder free agent who has power and can play Defense.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      November 11, 2013 at 9:03 am

      Thanks, Stefan. It’s tough to get right handed in the line up this year, especially power hitters. The options are limited to Chooch, Morse, and Chris Young, pretty much.

      • Stefan Johnson

        November 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

        How about Hart, did he sign back with the Brewers?

      • Stefan Johnson

        November 11, 2013 at 9:40 am

        I think I like Hart (if he is still available) over Cruz. Can also play 1B, and would probably be cheaper.

      • wbramh

        November 11, 2013 at 10:20 am

        …Also Nelson Cruz and switch-hitter Beltran of course, although Beltran’s a tougher out from the left side, too.

        And I wouldn’t leave Stanton out of the mix no matter what Dan Jennings is saying publicly.

        But yeah, the pickins are slim (again) this year.

        Or platoon Ruf at first with Howard, put Franco at 3rd (if he tears up the Grapefruit League) and while we’re converting infielders to outfielders (and trying to teach actual outfielders to be outfielders) try Asche in RF. More speed than Ruf and I’m guessing a better arm.

      • George

        November 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm

        Hart has had multiple knee surgeries and it’s likely he won’t be able to handle the outfield. He was bad defensively there, anyway.

  3. Double Trouble Del

    November 11, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Are you not even considering Nelson Cruz?

  4. Lucas

    November 11, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Nelson Cruz has a career .285 avg vs left handed pitching and you guys don’t even mention him? lol

    • schmenkman

      November 11, 2013 at 10:36 am

      What scares me about Cruz is that he’s a below-average hitter away from hitter-friendly Arlington, with a .734 career OPS. And that he’s already 33.

      • Lucas

        November 11, 2013 at 10:52 am

        The Phillies play in CBP = Hitter friendly ballpark!

      • schmenkman

        November 11, 2013 at 11:18 am

        It was this year, but from 2008 through 2012 it was one of the most neutral parks in baseball, both for home runs and for overall hitting. And even when it is hitter friendly, it favors LH hitters, not so much for right-handed ones.

      • schmenkman

        November 11, 2013 at 11:22 am

        BTW, what people typically mean when they say a park like CBP is neutral is that there are about as many runs scored (or homers hit, or whaterver) by both teams in the Phillies’ home games as there are by both teams in the Phillies’ away games.

      • Alex M.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:26 pm

        Another factor that no one looks at in terms of Nelson Cruz is the fact that he is HORRIBLE defensively, I am getting to the point where I think letting Ruf play an entire season might be a safer plan than going after Cruz. Not to mention Cruz has never played an entire season due to injuries…in 2012 he played 159 games but other than that year the next highest he put up was 128 in 2009. So you want to pay a guy that is likely going to get 4yrs/$65M with all of those question marks. I would rather go for Morse or Young and then try to sign Ellsbury or Granderson to patrol center.

    • Ian Riccaboni

      November 11, 2013 at 10:37 am

      These are our individual plans. I did not consider him for my team because of his assumed cost and his age. Pat, Corey, or Eric may, however.

  5. wbramh

    November 11, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Ian: At first I thought you had been drinking when I saw two free agency catchers on your wish list but now (after a few drinks myself) it doesn’t seem all that insane, especially after I noticed your inclusion of Ellsbury in CF. A solid upgrade and much needed speed.

    I’d pass on Morse and platoon Ruf at first and use Cesar Hernandez as a platoon with Revere in left or as a pure swing man between IF and OF.

  6. ABBR - Anybody But Ben Revere

    November 11, 2013 at 11:00 am

    1) I’d just as soon platoon Kratz with Salty (or Pierzynski on a MUCH less expensive and shorter deal).
    2) they could use a better bullpen arm than Joe Smith, of which there are plenty available.
    3) I agree with the other posters that they desperately need another SP.
    4) it’s illogical to me that even the Phillies would pay Kendrick $6-$7 mil to work out of the bullpen. I’d rather trade him for Andrew Bynum and his bad knees and see if he can play the OF.
    5) I’d also take Bynum over Ben Revere. Any team that plays Revere every day is a below .500 team. I’d rather have Chris Young, Rajai Davis or hell I’d even give Jeremy Moore a shot or see if Toronto would part with Moises Sierra.

  7. Dave P

    November 11, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Interesting to put Brown in right and slide revere over to left. I guess it makes sense given that Dom has a cannon for an arm and can cut down runners trying to go from first to third on a single, whereas Revere has a noodle arm.

    I just don’t buy Saltalamacchia as the answer behind the plate. From 2007-2012 he had a batting average of .239 and an OBP of .302. That’s probably more in line with his true skill.
    That and him striking out nearly 30% of the time leads me to say no to salty.

  8. Pops

    November 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I think Joe Smith is exactly the kind of bullpen arm that the Phillies need. Although I don’t think Cruz is a great fit he’s exactly the kind of player that RAJ may become enamored with. The only change I would make to Ian’s list would be the inclusion of a mid – level starting pitcher. An arm like Arroyo, Feldman, Haren or Hudson would be an improvement over what we currently have.

  9. Alex M.

    November 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Im very impressed with what you did here, I think I would shy away from Navarro unless he is really cheap and give Rupp a shot. I love the additions of Salty, Ellsbury and Morse. I would look to sign a starter, I am not sold on Morgan being healthy enough and Pettibone is a 5th starter. I would love to see us get a guy like Tanaka or Garza since they are not tied to a pick. But even going after Feldman or Arroyo would be solid options. Also I am not sold on Smith either, I would prefer almost any other top bullpen arm since Smith is going to get 3yrs/$15M and I really do not want to commit that kind of money to a guy that has not pitched a ton as a setup man or closer. I would target Crain, he is coming off of injury and likely will get less than Smith.

  10. KOLBe21

    November 11, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I really like the idea of signing two catchers. If Navarro is taken, I believe John Buck might be a suitable backup as well. I like Hart, Morse, Chris Young and Cruz a lot more than blowing up a lot of money on Ellsbury. I would save some of that and get a solid 3-4 pitcher like Josh Johnson. Lastly I like the Smith move or grab someone like Eric O’Flarrety.

    • George

      November 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Josh Johnson is only solid if he stays off the DL; something he rarely does. Hart is a huge risk, too. He couldn’t even make it through 2013 due to two bad knees. He’s not good on defense, and niether is Cruz.

  11. Bob in Bucks

    November 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    7 more WAR is not going to do it. Amaro has double downed on Rollins Utley Howard. Either they will produce or the Phillies will go nowhere. Too much money at those spots and all the clubs have cash available. If Amaro does not make a fast move (not necessarily under his control) the Phils will lose most auctions. As he is looking for RH power there is a limited pool and there will be crazy contracts.

    Wait for 2018!

  12. Manny

    November 11, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I like some of the suggestions here, but you gotta admit that the rotation kinda sucks.. I definitely think we need an upgrade. I wanted us to sign an impact starter like Anibal Sanchez last offseason and I still think we need someone similar if we want to compete. Lee and Cole, and 3 question marks, isn’t going to cut it.

  13. goldenone82

    November 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Sign Masahiro Tanaka you don’t have to trade anybody for him , no Dom Brown ,no Franco , no Biddle no one , it also won’t cost you a draft pick. All it costs you is money which the Phillies have . The posting fee does not count against the Lux tax and his salary is projected to be 10 million a year approx 6 years 60 mil. Pitch him between Hamels and Lee, then go on and sign an outfield power bat , catcher and relief pitcher plus the Phillies will still have Brown and the few good prospects they do have. Do it

  14. RC

    November 11, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    So you think what 83 wins next year with that pitching staff? Keep in mind we have no real depth at SP. Lee or Hamels misses any time and the team is in trouble. The outfield even with Ellsbury is lacking. Everyone assumes Brown repeats two good months from last season? He ended the year more along his typical slash lines which I would argue is the true expectation for him. Lets face it the Phillies need to sell Lee and get prospects. Off load Howard’s awful contract and start to redevelop the farm system. This team had a great run. Time to rebuild. 2018 sounds anout right.

    • schmenkman

      November 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      “Everyone assumes…”

      I actually haven’t heard anyone assume anything like that.

    • Double Trouble Del

      November 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      How do you arrive at 83 wins?

    • Double Trouble Del

      November 11, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      Selling for prospects doesn’t really work out most of the time. If it did the Pirates, Marlins and Astros would have had much more success than they have over the last ten years.

      • hk

        November 12, 2013 at 8:17 am


        1. Selling Lee for prospects and building for 2016 is a lot different than a full sale salary dump like Houston, Florida and Pittsburgh underwent. How many games do you think Ian’s version of the Phillies is likely to win?

        2. Pittsburgh’s long rebuild seems to be reaping rewards as they are now positioned as a playoff team with a number of top young, cheap players and more top prospects in their farm system. It is way too early to judge Houston’s rebuild, which began midway through the 2010 season.

        3. Only cherry-picking Pittsburgh, Houston and Florida ignores teams like Texas that benefited greatly from dealing Teixiera, Boston which rebuilt by dumping Gonzalez, Beckett and Crawford and Tampa, which dumped Shields for the ROY and still made the playoffs.

    • schmenkman

      November 12, 2013 at 8:40 am

      Whatever any of us may wish, I don’t believe a full scale rebuild is going to happen. As they have for the last year and a half, the Phillies will be rebuilding as they try to remain competitive. And in that scenario, trading Lee means you would have to somehow replace his considerable production, so it’s very unlikely that he’s going anywhere.

  15. Hogey's Role

    November 11, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    I’m in between about whether or not to sign anyone offered a qualifying offer… But if we do I say go all in…

    Because I want ubaldo Jimenez and he will cost us a pick I would say to go all in.. Something like a 4 year/50 million deal might get that done, then I would go after ellsbury on a 4 year/75-80 million deal to land him, a higher AAV to stay away from more years, I would then try to land also either tanaka or garza… That in turn would allow you to put a trade package together with revere, ruf, pettibone, Martin or even mag(whoever won’t be the 5 starter) and possibly make a trade for Stanton, cespedes, trumbo or even a Matt kemp… I would keep both galvis and hernandez as utility players that are able to fill in for everyone virtually, utley Howard and Rollins are locks and asche pretty much has third unless Franco has an incredible spring… At catcher if I’m going all in I would go with salty and have rupp/Kratz back him up…

    This would give us a really good rotation, an influx of speed and power in the lineup and outfield… Bullpens are always volatile, but I think smith is a good option…

    I say if we’re gonna make some world shocking signings, go all in and spend some money and make it happen rube

  16. RC

    November 12, 2013 at 12:22 am

    How do you arrive at 83 wins

    “a net 7.9 win upgrade, not including the possible added value of a move of Ben Revere from center to left and Brown from left to right, which could net them an additional win or two if both remain healthy.” add that on to the 73 they had this year.

    As for your comment on trading for prospects not working out. You point out the three teams with the lowest payrolls in baseball. That has more to do with them being small market with a limited budget than it does with trading for prospects and them not working out.

  17. Andrew Metzler

    November 12, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I do like the catching plan and Joe Smith, however I am opposed to everything else. A rotation of Hamels, Lee, and 3 question marks is not going to cut it. Cruz, Ellsbury, and Choo our going to cost too much. I believe our best route is through trade. Matt Kemp should be amaros priority. Kemp is a power, right handed bat, who is still relatively young. He shouldn’t cost too much prospect wise depending on how much salary we would eat. Trading for Kemp, and signing Granderson would be great. Our defense would drastically improve, and that would open the door for us to be able brown or revere, or maybe even both for someone like Stanton. We can fill our rotation through FA.

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