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Phillies offer arbitration to Veterans, Acquire Wigginton

Posted By Christopher Rowe On Nov 26 2011 @ 4:02 pm In Philadelphia Phillies | No Comments

The 2012 Phillies roster has begun to take shape. At this point it is mostly by addition with a few expected subtractions but look for a lot more changes by end of the calendar year. As of Thanksgiving, it remains to be seen whether Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson and Raul Ibanez will return to play for the Phillies next year. Should any of them choose to exit as free agents this winter, the club has positioned itself to receive compensatory draft selections. Replacements would likely come in the form of free agents but a number of candidates have been signed.

The Phillies have offered salary arbitration to Rollins, Madson and Ibanez. These free agents will have until Dec. 7 to accept this offer which would provide them a one-year contract with a salary determined through arbitration.  While Rollins and Madson were expected to receive this offer, the Phillies created some surprise when they also extended an offer to the 39-year-old Ibanez, who made $12 million this past season.

Raul Ibanez could accept a one-year deal around that same $12 million figure. There is reason to believe that the veteran outfielder allowed the Phillies to extend this arbitration offer with the understanding that he would not accept it. If Ibanez returns to Philadelphia in a reduced platoon role, he would likely agree to a reduced salary. Should Ibanez sign elsewhere, the Phillies will receive a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft as compensation. This would be a win-win arrangement for both parties.

Jimmy Rollins is considered an elite free agent (Type A), so the Phillies would receive two compensatory Draft picks if he signs elsewhere. One of those selections would be a sandwich pick (like Ibanez) while the other would be based on where the signing team’s first-round selection falls. If the signing team’s pick falls within the first 15 picks, the Phillies would receive that team’s second-round selection. If the signing team’s first selection falls beyond the first 15 picks, the Phillies would receive that first round pick.

The Phillies would also receive two compensatory picks if Ryan Madson signs elsewhere – a proposition that appears certain unless Madson wishes to return to a setup role behind free agent signee Jonathan Papelbon. Because Madson is not considered to be an elite free agent (classified as Type B) under the new collective bargaining agreement, the team that signs the veteran reliever would not forfeit a Draft pick. The compensation for Madson would instead be one supplemental pick in the first or second round, plus a sandwich pick.

Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge, the Phillies’ only other rated free agents, were not offered salary arbitration. There is still seemingly a chance that Lidge could return next year to work in a bullpen now anchored by the team’s new closer, Jonathan Papelbon (who signed a $50M contract).  Oswalt will be pursued by several teams seeking a veteran starting pitcher. Like Madson this role would be strictly setup but unlike Madson that role could be appealing.

Lidge was removed from the closer’s role due to rotator cuff injury subsequent to the end of the 2010 season. Heading into 2011, with Lidge shelved, Jose Contreras was named closer instead of Madson. Soon Contreras would be hurt, followed by Madson missing time. Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes filled in around midseason but when Madson and Lidge both returned healthy it was Madson who inherited the closer’s role. Joe Nathan (Rangers) and Papelbon (Phillies) were atop a long list of closers on the open market.

Phillies strike deal with Rockies for Wigginton

The Phillies added a veteran presence to their roster this week by acquiring Ty Wigginton from the Rockies in exchange for a player to be named later or cash.  The versatile Wigginton can play each of the corner infield positions and will serve as the right-handed compliment to left-handed slugger Jim Thome, who rejoined the Phillies earlier this month.

First baseman Ryan Howard will begin the season on the disabled list as he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon, and there is a chance 3B Placido Polanco will also be sidelined early on as he recovers from sports hernia surgery. Ty Wigginton will provide insurance at both corner-infield positions and possibly see some time in left field. The 34-year-old played 1B (36 games), 3B (68 games), LF (21 games) and RF (six games) for the Colorado Rockies this past season.

Along with versatility, Wigginton also brings some power potential to Philadelphia. He has hit at least 20 HR in four of the past six seasons. Wigginton batted .242 with 15 HR and a .416 slugging percentage in 401 at-bats for the Rockies this year. After batting .248 with 22 HR in a career high 581 at-bats with the Orioles in 2010, Wigginton signed a two-year, $8 million contract with Colorado. The Phillies will be responsible for just half of the $4 million owed on the final guaranteed year of this deal in 2012. Wigginton batted .296 (16-for-54) with 3 HR and a .574 slugging percentage in the 16 games played during his career at Citizens Bank Park.

It remains unlikely that three targeted free agents will become part of the 2012 Phillies. Grady Sizemore re-signed with the Cleveland Indians on a one year incentive-laden deal. Clint Barmes had been under consideration should Jimmy Rollins pursue free agency but Pittsburgh inked him to a 2-year $10.5M deal this week. Rollins is seeking 4-5 years @ $15M so that would have been a significant savings. Further, Barmes production (.244, 12 HR, 40 RBI) was comparable to Rollins lesser seasons. Minnesota has offered arbitration to both Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel who are among a slew of candidates to fill the left field spot in Philadelphia.

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