Arizona is also making moves this evening.
According to the club’s official Twitter feed, the Diamondbacks declined a $1.24 million mutual option Wednesday on catcher Henry Blanco and a $4 million club option for reliever Matt Lindstrom.
Blanco appeared in only 21 games this season because of a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and batted just .188/.224/.281 with one home run and seven RBI in 67 plate appearances while healthy.
The D’Backs will try to find a more reliable backup for Miguel Montero this winter.
Lindstrom, 32, posted a stellar 2.68 ERA in 46 relief appearances this past summer between the Orioles and Snakes, fanning 40 batters and issuing only 14 walks in 47 innings. It’s probably worth noting that right-hander Heath Bell — acquired via trade earlier this month from the Marlins — had a 5.09 ERA in 63 2/3 innings this year in Miami and will be paid $13 million by the Diamondbacks over the next two seasons. Weird.
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.