UPDATE: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Frandsen will make a base salary of $850,000. The deal includes incentives which could bring the overall payout to $1.2 million.
11:35 PM: According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Phillies and Kevin Frandsen have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a new contract. Terms aren’t yet available, but it doesn’t figure to be much since he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.
Frandsen spent the entire first half of this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but received significant playing time at third base with the big club after the All-Star break, batting .338/.383/.451 with two home runs, 14 RBI and an .834 OPS in 210 plate appearances. His strong play pushed Placido Polanco to the bench down the stretch.
It’s possible the Phillies will go into next season with a platoon of Frandsen and Freddy Galvis at third base, but general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. will certainly look for ways to improve in both the free agent and trade markets. While Frandsen was a nice surprise in a small sample this year thanks to a high line drive rate and batting average on balls in play, the 30-year-old had a .243/.302/.335 batting line and a .636 OPS over his previous 626 plate appearances in the majors. With regression likely on the way, it would be unwise to count on him as anything more than a utility infielder next year.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.