Tim Stauffer’s 2012 season is officially over, as Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that he underwent surgery yesterday to repair the flexor tendon in his right elbow. Padres manager Bud Black said that he should be ready for spring training next year.
Stauffer was originally expected to be the Padres’ Opening Day starter, but he ended up making just one start in the big leagues this season. After beginning the year on the disabled list, he made his season debut against the Nationals on May 14 and gave up four runs (three earned) over five innings. However, he was placed right back on the disabled list after feeling more discomfort in his elbow. He finally decided to have surgery after being pulled from a rehab assignment earlier this month.
Stauffer made $3.2 million this season and is arbitration-eligible again this winter, so he figures to be a non-tender candidate this winter. The 29-year-old right-hander will likely have to settle for a one-year “prove it” contract, but after posting a 3.73 ERA over 185 2/3 innings in 2011, there should be plenty of teams willing to take a chance on him.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.