Finally, the mystery is over.
Eight days ago it was reported that the Phillies had come to terms with a bullpen pitcher, believed to be either Danys Baez or Mike MacDougal.
Now we have learned that the Phillies have agreed to a two-year deal with Baez, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki and SI.com's Jon Heyman.
It's no shock, seeing that the Phillies have long held interest in Baez, back to his days with Tampa Bay.
For a bullpen that was in flux for much of last year, it will give the Phillies some stability at the back end of the game.
Heading into 2010, there are obvious questions about Brad Lidge who had performance and injury problems in 2009, and an elbow surgery in early November.
There will also be questions about J.C. Romero, who missed the first 50 games of 2009 due to his drug suspension, then missed a chunk of games towards the end of the year. He also had elbow surgery, one that was more extensive than Lidge's.
The Phillies do not expect to have the services of Chan Ho Park in 2010, who performed admirably last season. Clay Condrey, long-relief extraordinaire, has joined Park as a free agent.
It's also unknown whether or not Scott Eyre will return to the team in 2010, as General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has offered a contract of the minor league variety to the 37-year-old lefty.
This much is known: there will be different faces in the Phillies bullpen in 2010 and Baez will be one of them.
Outside of Baez, the Phillies should expect Lidge, Romero, Ryan Madson, and Chad Durbin to fill out spots in the bullpen. Therefore, expect some heavy competition in Spring Training for the final two bullpen spots.
Baez, who turned 32 in September, has pitched for five teams, most recently the Orioles in 2009. He was 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 59 games.
When it comes down to it, one of the most important qualities for a bullpen pitcher is an ability to keep walks at a minimum.
It could be one of the reasons Baez won the war over MacDougal, whom the Phillies also had extensive interest in. Last year, Baez walked just 2.8 batters per nine innings while MacDougal walked 6.3 per nine.
For his career, Baez has a 3.7 walks-per-nine inning ratio while MacDougal has a 4.7 BB/9 ratio.
Baez is hardly a strikeout pitcher anymore, with his strikeout-per-nine inning ratio sitting at 5.02 in 2009. However, he is projected to rebound favorably in 2010 by baseball statistician Bill James, who sees his K/9 rising to 6.04.
Another reason for the signing of Baez? He induced a 2.36 ground ball/fly ball ratio last year, which will be hard to repeat yet appreciated in Citizens Bank Park.
There is little doubt the Phillies would have been interested in re-signing Park, who went on to post a 2.57 ERA in relief after his early-season removal from the starting rotation.
Park made $2.5 million last season, and likely wanted a raise for 2010. However, he also likely wanted another shot at having the Phillies' fifth starting job, one that will most likely be fought for between Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick.
With that in mind, it appears Amaro had no choice but to pursue other options.
Baez is coming off a three-year, $19 million deal with the Orioles that paid him $5.5 million in 2009.
He should not expect that kind of payment in Philadelphia, with this two-year contract likely turning out to be in the $6 million range.
However, he'll have a chance he hasn't had something to do in Baltimore: win a championship.
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