Philadelphia Phillies: How Well Did Ruben Amaro Jr. Do at the Winter Meetings?
After nearly 72 hours at the Winter Meetings, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. filled at least one item on the team’s offseason to-do list.
No, it wasn’t B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn or Angel Pagan that Amaro acquired.
If Revere was acquired by the Phillies to fill their need in center field for 2013, surely he must be a right-handed batter with plenty of power, right?
Not only was Revere seemingly behind many free agent outfielders as targets for the Phils, he wasn’t even the Twins’ top outfielder on the trade block at the beginning of the offseason.
However, after spending recent offseasons targeting the top available free agents (even those on the trade block) and showing little concern for payroll or prospects, Amaro has taken a different route this offseason.
And he has done well.
Given the Phillies habit for spending in recent seasons, one would have to imagine that they easily could have matched, if not exceeded, the Atlanta Braves offer for Upton. However, according to a tweet by Mark Bowman, the Phillies decided to offer nearly $20 million less than what the Braves offered.
For a player who has batted .241, .237, .243 and .246 in each of the past four seasons, the Phillies made an offer that was much closer to what Upton’s value is, and decided not to overpay simply for the sake of filling a need.
The Phillies could have taken the $55 million they were offering to Upton and used it to lure Angel Pagan away from the San Francisco Giants. However, Pagan decided to re-sign with the team, according to an article on ESPN.com, for four years and $40 million.
That’s an AAV of $10 million for a player who at this time last year was part of a trade involving Andres Torres, who batted .230 this season.
Amaro could have also turned back to Shane Victorino, but would have likely had to outbid the Boston Red Sox who, according to an article by Gordon Edes on ESPN.com, will receive $39 million for three years.
That’s an AAV of $13 million for a player who had one of the worst seasons of his major league career this season, while making just $9 million.
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After a season like the one the Phillies had this year, it’s questionable as to how attractive the team currently is from a free agent perspective. However, if this were not an issue and dollar amounts were all that mattered, Amaro likely could have signed any one of these players to take over center field in 2013.
Instead, he acquired a 24-year-old center fielder that made less than $500,000 this season, and who is not eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season.
Revere lacks power, as he has yet to hit a home run in his major league career, but that didn’t stop him from batting .294 with 150 hits, 40 stolen bases and just 54 strikeouts in 511 at-bats this season.
Yes, he’s a left-handed batter, but he batted .314 against left-handed pitchers this season. He also batted .284 against right-handers.
Although he will take over center field for the Phillies, Revere primarily played right field for the Twins this season. Among American League right fielders with a minimum of 700 innings, Revere had the second-best UZR, according to fangraphs.com.
Yes, the Phillies gave up Vance Worley and Trevor May in order to acquire Revere. Worley’s inclusion in a trade for a player such as Revere is understandable, while May’s inclusion may be a bit surprising.
However, the Phillies have survived their major trades in recent seasons involving high-ranking prospects without many reaching the big leagues and finding success.
May has not had an ERA under 3.50 in the minor leagues in a season since 2009. Furthermore, May first pitched in the Phillies system in 2008. After five years, the highest level that he reached was Double-A, and likely would have started back at the level in 2013.
May could have been used in a trade package for a player with a bit more power or who fit another need, but the Phillies have now shown that a young player not even eligible for arbitration yet does not come cheap.
Amaro has tended towards the flashy, big name acquisitions in recent offseasons, and there is still plenty of time for him to make another one this year. However, he deserves credit for keeping his hands in his pockets while players such as Upton, Pagan and Victorino received big offers.
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Amaro was also able to put the Phillies on the doorstep for acquiring Michael Young from the Texas Rangers, according to a tweet by Jim Salisbury. If Young decides to waive his 10-5 rights, the Phillies would have another third baseman to throw into the mix with Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.
According to another article by Salisbury on CSNPhilly.com, the Rangers may pay over half of Young’s salary for this season.
At that point, the Phillies would have a player who batted .338 just one season ago to play third base this season for between $6-8 million.
Not too bad.
Throw in the acquisition of outfielder Ender Inciarte who, according to Steve Adams on mlbtraderumors.com, the Phils selected in the Rule 5 Draft from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Amaro used the final day of the Winter Meetings to finally start adding to the 2013 roster and give the team another player who can use spring training to earn a roster spot.
These transactions and possible transactions don’t match the typical moves made by Amaro in recent offseasons. But the fact that the team has yet to spend significant payroll this offseason means that the possibility still exists for a larger move. The Phillies may need this flexibility as well, since third base, another outfielder and a pitcher for the eighth-inning are all still needed as of now.
For the time being, however, Amaro has taken a different approach to the offseason beginning with his moves, and lack thereof, at the Winter Meetings.
And he’s done it well.
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