Reds GM Walt Jocketty announced Wednesday morning that he plans to exercise Brandon Phillips’ $12 million club option for the 2012 season. But what happens after that? Will the All-Star second baseman be allowed to hit the free agent market?
Our guess, based off Phillips’ comments Wednesday afternoon to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, is yes.
“This is my last contract,” Phillips said. “There is no homeboy hookup. I just want to be paid what I am worth.”
Phillips is one of the best defensive second basemen in the major leagues and has posted a .294/.346/.452 batting line with 18 home runs and 81 RBI in 144 games this season, so “what I am worth” is likely to be a hefty sum. The Reds are far from broke, but their payroll typically ranks in the bottom half among baseball’s 30 franchises. If Phillips is not going to be giving the small-market club a hometown (er, “homeboy”) discount, there’s a good chance Cincinnati will be outbid.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.