TBOH Debate – Week Four


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Every week, the writers at That Ball’s Outta Here get together and discuss some of the issues surrounding the Phillies.

Joining me this week are Spencer Bingol, Emily Gruver, and Michael Lecke!

There are rumors that the Phillies are looking to sign a reliever and may offer a three-year deal.  Would any free agent reliever be worth signing for three years?


Relievers can be worth three year deals, but I’d be very strict about AAV in a situation like that. The problem with signing a closer specifically to a long deal is that there’s high turnover rates for closers AS closers. Those same guys would (generally) still function as set-up men or have some value in the bullpen in some way for the entire length of the deals, the closer annual price tag is what kills.

I’m not the biggest Edward Mujica fan in the world, partially because I believe the Cardinals are smarter than the rest of us and they went from using him as closer to shutting him down for the postseason without a DL stint (suspicious).

However, I could see a world where that deal is okay (realistically, the best we could hope for is something somewhat bigger than Joe Smith’s 3-year/$15 million deal). Any 3-year deal for someone 36 or older probably is a horrible idea, however.


While it would be great for the Phillies to sign a reliever, the Phillies have other, more important needs at this point. No, I don’t think there is any reliever out there that the Phillies should sign to a 3-year deal.


Definitely not.  Relievers are too unpredictable to be given expensive multi-year deals, especially considering they’re already paying a lot of money to Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams.  I’m hoping that the relievers they already have in house will develop into reliable options.  If guys like Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman, Ethan Martin, and – hey, why not – Phillippe Aumont can live up to their pedigrees, then the Phillies might actually have a good bullpen even without signing someone.

Although if they were somehow able to trade Papelbon, I’d consider going after Mujica, but only if they got him at a decent price.  Replacing one expensive, questionable closer with another would be pointless.


Three years for a reliever is tremendously risky; it seems like a desperation move. Bullpen arms tend to be dramatically up and down from year to year. The best ones are often overused while they are at the top of their game, especially if a team is deep in the playoff hunt.

Ideally you would improve your starting pitching to improve your bullpen. If you are a buyer at the trade deadline and haven’t found guys internally to handle late innings, then make a move for the playoffs. That way you’ll get someone having a good season and not overpaying three years for a dead arm.

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Since the Tigers were able to trade away Prince Fielder, and his monstrous contract, is there any hope the Phillies can do the same with Ryan Howard?


That situation would have been the chance to trade Howard. I’m not actually convinced that he WON’T have a productive (maybe by 2011 standards) year in 2014, provided he is TRULY healthy. However, I think the annual price tag and health concerns have absolutely made him near untradeable.

I know that both the Padres and (of particular interest) the Rockies are looking for left-handed bats, and of the two I know the Rockies specifically are looking for a new first baseman, after the retirement of franchise cornerstone Todd Helton.

His contract just came off the books, and they were tied to some pretty big bids for Cuban 1B Dariel Jose Abreu before he was signed by the White Sox. If there was a chance remaining, that would be it.


I sure hope so, but I doubt it would happen. It would really benefit the Phillies moving forward, but I can’t picture Ruben making something like that happen.


It’s a bit of a Catch-22.  You can’t trade Howard unless he’s productive, but if he’s productive, you don’t want to trade him.  The only way a trade of Howard could happen is if Howard, Cody Asche, and Maikel Franco all have strong seasons in 2014.  In that case, Howard has some trade value (although they’d still probably have to eat some money), and you’ve got someone to replace him at first base.


Trading Howard would only be possible if he’s producing again, in which case we wouldn’t want to trade him. It’s not as if he’s blocking anyone on the roster or in the minors so what’s the point? Maikel Franco isn’t ready to play first base yet.

I’d listen to offers but I sure wouldn’t move Heaven and Earth just to dump him, not unless we are in full purge and rebuild mode. The contract is signed. It’s a sunk cost. There’s no hiding from it with a trade since money would have to move with him. Forget about it!