The Phillies plan to tender a contract to starting pitcher Vince Velasquez, according to a report from Todd Zolecki of MLB.com and Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The two sides did not agree to a deal just yet and could go to arbitration during spring training. No matter what, he is expected to return for another season with the Phillies.
Velasquez had a 5.56 ERA in nine games and seven starts in 2020. He did have a career-best 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings, but the results were still not there for the 28-year-old despite hopes for a breakout season.
The Phillies are projected to pay Velasquez between $3.8 million and $4.8 million, according to arbitration projections from Tim Dierkes and Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors. Given his struggles during his career and the Phillies’ inclination to act with a budget in 2021, he was a prime non-tender candidate.
The Phillies acquired Velasquez in a trade that sent closer Ken Giles to the Houston Astros. Since then, he has flashed brilliance but struggled far more often. In over five seasons with the team, Velasquez went 27-34 with a 4.76 ERA, but has shown that he can be a competent fifth starter at the very least.
In his second start as a Phillie in April of 2016, Velasquez threw a complete game shutout in which he struck out 16 batters and walked none. It remains one of the greatest single-game performances in franchise history but might have raised fan expectations for Velasquez to unrealistic heights.
The Phillies are set with Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin as the top three in their rotation. Spencer Howard slots in as well, although he has not pitched more than 112 innings over a season in his professional career.
Velasquez is set to compete for the final spot, and will likely earn it considering the Phillies lack of starting pitching depth. The Phillies will likely need to add at least one starting pitcher in free agency, considering their next options include inexperienced arms like Adonis Medina and Damon Jones.
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