Following every major league season, each team has a select number of players either eligible for arbitration or free agency. For the Philadelphia Phillies, this is no exception. With 12 arbitration-eligible players this offseason and a handful of free agents to boot, the upcoming offseason will be one of the most transaction-heavy and intriguing in Phillies history.
As is the case with any offseason, there are certain types of moves that can be made. In the case of the arbitration-eligible player, he can be tendered a contract to return for at least one more season, or he can be non-tendered and hit the open market before hitting six years of MLB service time. Options of all sorts can also be declined, whether on the side of the player, team or both parties. Vesting options with unmet requirements can also render players free agents.
If a player is a free agent, he can be signed to a new contract or sign one with another team. Trades can also occur, as can designations for assignment, the latter of which usually happens when the 40-man roster is being trimmed down and revised before the Rule 5 Draft.
The Phillies have at least one or two players in each category listed in the above paragraph, but not all of them are definitely goners. Only a select few are virtual locks to be wearing another team's uniform next year—or no one's at all. Here's the list of Phillies players who must be let go this offseason, whether by non-tendering, walking in free agency or via trade.
The headliner on this list of names, Roy Halladay has essentially done what nobody thought he was capable of as recently as two years ago: He's shown that he's human and is wearing down.
Two years ago, Halladay would have likely won his second consecutive NL Cy Young Award if not for the Triple Crown achieved by eventual winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Heading into spring training 2012, Doc didn't look right, and since then, he's only slid further down into mediocrity.
Doc's velocity had dropped to the high 80s from the low 90s and he had less control than usual. Even after a shutdown in 2012, these problems persisted into the 2013 season and culminated in his undergoing surgery for a few shoulder maladies, including a torn rotator cuff and frayed labrum around the area. He was called to return from his rehab assignment earlier than planned due to an 18-inning start against the Arizona Diamondbacks the night before.
While Doc's held his own since his return, it hasn't been pretty. He's issued more walks than strikeouts, albeit by one, but he's also lasted no more than six innings in any given start. In Halladay's two six-inning starts, he threw 94 and 99 pitches, meaning that he's averaging more than 15 pitches per inning. What that generally implies is that Doc has lost control of his repertoire.
It's been a thrill having Halladay in a Phillies uniform, both from the team's and the fans' standpoint. But it's time to let sleeping dogs lie, and perhaps Halladay should do the same if he doesn't improve after 2014. Doc's going to find a job somewhere, but his time with the Phillies has worn thin.
Possible Offseason Scenarios: $20 million vesting option does not vest, rendering Halladay a free agent, and he does not re-sign
Chances are you weren't expecting Kyle Kendrick's name to be on this list. Nevertheless, Kendrick has inched closer and closer to metaphorically packing his bags and looking elsewhere for work.
You might ask, "What's the rationale for letting Kendrick go?" It's a reasonable question, and the reason for Kendrick to be non-tendered would stem from a few things. The most obvious is that he's slated to make as much as $8 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, and the chances that the Phillies—or any other team for that matter—thinks that Kendrick is worth that much money are slim to none.
Kendrick has been a valuable asset at times for the Phillies and a waste of a roster spot at others. What Kendrick's got going for him is that he's never spent a day of his life on the disabled list in any league, and he's able to pitch both in the rotation and out of the bullpen. For the Phillies specifically, he's also a healthy and often reliable right-handed starting option, something the team has been suddenly thin on in recent weeks.
But Kendrick has also had a 4.51 ERA since May, and Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley makes the point that he would provide much-needed depth for the Phillies. Every month since April, Kendrick's ERA has been at least 4.03 or higher and his WHIP in any given month since April has not been below 1.20. This is the mediocre Kendrick we've come to know, but is it worth keeping him around any longer?
In the end, it comes down to finances, and if Kendrick's making anything more than $5-6 million, he's not worth hanging onto anymore. It's time for the Phillies and Kendrick to move on. The Phillies have enough prospect depth waiting to prove their worth on the major league team, and Kendrick could find a less volatile pitching situation elsewhere.
Possible Offseason Scenarios: non-tendered before contract tendering deadline; tendered a contract and traded to another team
Among the many names in this slideshow, John Lannan's should come as a surprise to few.
After signing the non-tendered Lannan to a one-year, $2.5 million contract in the offseason, the Phillies believed they had solved their fifth starter's spot with a pitcher who was at least half decent against every other team in the majors. However, what proved to be the case was that Lannan was both bad for and against the Phillies—that is, when he wasn't hurt.
Lannan was shut down after only three starts in April with a strained patellar tendon. However, after returning two months later, Lannan was just as bad as he had been in Washington, and the only time following his DL stint when his ERA was under 4.00 was when he had thrown two straight starts of one earned run or less. Of his 14 starts this year, they were just two of the four where that was the case, and the other two were Lannan's first two starts of the season.
Lannan ended up going 3-6 on the season with a 5.33 ERA ad 1.52 WHIP in his 14 starts until being shut down at the end of August due to a recurring issue in his knee tendon. This time around, it could be a ruptured tendon, but regardless of the injury, Lannan's likely thrown his last pitch with the Phillies.
The thing with Lannan is that even though he's not yet guaranteed any money next year, he's still under team control for one last season. With enough in-house pitching options and especially enough in-house left-handed pitching options, the Phillies have enough depth and competition to make Lannan expendable and part ways with him.
Possible Offseason Scenarios: non-tendered prior to contract guarantee deadline
Before I continue any further, I just have to ask: Why on earth do the Phillies still have this guy?
Michael Martinez has been an atrocity of a player when he's been in the majors with the Phillies. As their Rule 5 pick before the 2011 season, Martinez didn't do much to warrant his presence on the 25-man roster all season long. Nevertheless, he managed to stick around, and the Phillies received control of his contract from the Washington Nationals.
The issue alone is not that Martinez remained in the Phillies organization. It's that the Phillies somehow believe that he's worth keeping on the roster. In essence, Martinez is a worse Ty Wigginton, if that's possible—he's unable to hit for power or average and he can't defend. All he offers is defensive versatility, but that's not saying all that much.
Martinez is one of those Triple-A players who is somewhat on the bubble of the majors but can't quite succeed upon arrival. But at 30 years old—yes, Martinez is 30 years old—what more are the Phillies trying to prove with this bust of a player?
In 2013, Martinez has had 34 plate appearances and all have resulted in either outs or singles. There have been no sacrifice hits and no walks for Martinez, as The Good Phight highlighted recently. If the season ended today, Martinez would be the first Phillie to do that and would be one of just 23 players since 1901 to have the same average, OBP and SLG at a season's end.
With a .176 average, .176 OBP and .176 SLG, Martinez isn't worth much of anything to the Phillies anymore. It's time for them to swallow their pride and admit that not all Rule 5 picks work out, Martinez included.
Possible Offseason Scenarios: removed from 40-man roster prior to Rule 5 Draft but retained in minors; claimed off waivers after 40-man roster removal (possible but unlikely); non-tendered before contract tender deadline
When he was signed to his record-breaking four-year, $50 million contract in the 2011 offseason, it was well known that Jonathan Papelbon was being grossly overpaid for his services. However, he'd also been one of baseball's top closers for a very long time, and for the first time since Brad Lidge pitched a perfect 48-for-48 save season in 2008, the Phillies had a reliable closer to bolster the bullpen for future postseason runs.
Part of that sentiment happened to work out, but as we've come to know, most of it didn't. Papelbon was fantastic in 2012, pitching to a 2.44 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and saving 38 games. What didn't go in the Phillies' favor was that they went just 81-81 that year and didn't make the playoffs.
This year, Papelbon's numbers still look good, but the closest Phillies fan knows that he hasn't been as advertised. Papelbon has pitched to the tune of a 2.35 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, both better marks than in 2012. But Papelbon has also blown six saves in his 30 opportunities during a stretch in June and July that saw him blow four of five straight save chances.
The Phillies wouldn't have been winners this year anyway, and they came back to win in half of those blown-save games. The issue isn't just Papelbon's game, though—it's his attitude as well, which showed when he trashed the organization and stated that they needed a top-to-bottom reboot.
Papelbon is under contract for two more guaranteed years at $13 million apiece, and he also has a $13 million vesting option for 2016 that's easily attainable. If the Phillies can flip him for any sort of return, they should do without hesitation.
Possible Offseason Scenarios: traded to a team with a large payroll in need of a bona fide closer
Carlos Ruiz? The catcher who's been insanely hot for at least three weeks now? One of the last players from the 2008 World Series roster? You're saying to let him go?
Yes I am, but I'll admit that there's a disclaimer: Ruiz must be let go as the starting catcher.
Ruiz has endeared himself into Phillies fans' hearts over the years with his stellar defense and occasional offensive punch. Coming into 2013 with a 25-game Adderall suspension along with an injury just 16 games into his season didn't help boost his value by any means, though.
For a long time, as recently as early August, Ruiz had only a handful of extra-base hits and just one home run entering the second-to-last month of the regular season. Any trade value Chooch might have had was sapped by his own hand.
Then came August, and things started to change in Ruiz's favor. He hit .333 with a .933 OPS in 26 August games along with four home runs and 11 RBI. While that won't be enough to give Ruiz a big payday, it might be beneficial for the Phillies.
Going into 2014, Ruiz will be 35 years old, and though he's been good recently, he's no longer a surefire offensive weapon. It's time to give the starting job to someone else, whether Cameron Rupp, Erik Kratz or a player currently outside the Phillies organization. If Chooch is willing to subordinate himself into a backup role, he should be back in 2014. If not, you'll see him play elsewhere.
Possible Offseason Scenarios: re-signed in free agency to cheaper deal to become the backup catcher; walks in free agency and signs contract with another team to be their starting catcher