Phillies Extend Victorino, Blanton

Yesterday, we learned that Joe Blanton is worth about $12 million in free agent bucks, assuming a level of production at 3.0 WAR. GM Ruben Amaro did a good job, then, in getting Blanton to agree to a three-year, $24 million extension, an average annual value of $8 million. That left Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz as the only Phillies with undecided salaries.

Tonight, Victorino agreed to a three-year, $22 million extension (AAV of $7.3 million). Since earning a full-time job with the Phillies in 2006, the Flyin’ Hawaiian has been worth about 16 WAR for an average of 3.2 per season. If Shane averages the same level of production over the next three years, his production will be worth about $14 million per season or $42 million over all three years, with the for-argument’s-sake assumption of $4 million per win.

For as much as we criticized Amaro for trading away Cliff Lee and signing free agents Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez, he has performed remarkably well with regard to arbitration-eligible players. Amaro had ten such cases last year and handled them all with great aplomb:

  • Joe Blanton: 1 year, $5.475 million
  • Eric Bruntlett: 1 year, $800,000
  • Clay Condrey: 1 year, $650,000
  • Greg Dobbs: 2 years, $2.5 million
  • Chad Durbin: 1 year, $1.635 million
  • Cole Hamels: 3 years, $20.5 million
  • Ryan Howard: 3 years, $54 million
  • Ryan Madson: 3 years, $12 million
  • Shane Victorino: 1 year, $3.125 million
  • Jayson Werth: 2 years, $10 million

Not one case involved a multi-year contract of more than three guaranteed years. In fact, of current Phillies, only Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have signed multi-year contracts of greater guaranteed length (5 and 7 years, respectively), but they were orchestrated by former GM Pat Gillick.

Overall, Amaro has paid close to market value to significantly below market value, and that trend is continuing as we head into the start of the 2010 season.

Currently, the Phillies stand at about $135 million, close to their self-imposed $140 million limit. As Amaro works to sign catcher Carlos Ruiz to an extension, they will be just about at max payroll. That will remove all of the uneasiness going into this season, and most of it going into 2011. The big question next year pertains to sudden superstar Jayson Werth.

Werth is unlikely to agree to stay in Philadelphia with an extension of three years or less, and certainly not for the amount of money Amaro seems to be comfortable offering. Jason Bay, a fellow corner outfielder with a much more limited skillset, signed a four-year, $66 million contract with the New York Mets. Werth has been worth about 3.5 total WAR more than Bay over the last two seasons and is regarded as a five-tool player. He could reasonably demand a contract between what Bay and Matt Holliday (7/$120M) received, such as five years, $90 million.

Whether Werth will get an offer of that caliber remains to be seen, but it is unlikely that the Phillies will be able to retain him. The Victorino extension appears to be a safeguard against losing both outfielders with the realization that Werth is most likely gone after the 2010 season. Amaro’s reluctance to trade outfield prospect Domonic Brown is, in retrospect, prescient as Brown would be the leading candidate to replace Werth.

Fortunately, the Werth issue will be one of few for the Phillies in 2011. Amaro has worked extremely hard to achieve that, and he’s done a bang-up job so far even if we’re dissatisfied with the thought of having one and not two former Cy Young winners atop a rotation that has reached the World Series two years running.

BDD: Angels Slipping Down

At Baseball Daily Digest, I nominate the Angels for having baseball’s worst off-season.

In essence, the Angels have swapped gimpy designated hitters, downgraded from Lackey to Piniero, lost Figgins and gained Rodney. Meanwhile, Roy Halladay went to Philadelphia, Cliff Lee went to Seattle, and Aroldis Chapman went to Cincinnati. The Angels wanted an ace pitcher and they ended up with Joel Piniero. It’s the kind of dream/reality contrast one would expect to find with the New York Mets, not the L.A. Angels.