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.

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  1. sanfran

    January 22, 2010 10:27 AM

    I keep hearing Domonic Brown’s name mentioned, but what about Ben Francisco to replace Werth next year? He’s a righty and he’s cheap, and I believe he is still under team control going into next season. Obviously he isn’t bringing the same kind of power Jay Dubs can but he’s more big league ready than DB. Hell he was starting for the Indians in 2009.

  2. Aaron H

    January 22, 2010 11:14 AM

    I think he’d be a decent option if there was no one affordable left on the market. He’s barely above a replacement level player (about 0.5 WAR, and his career slash line of .263/.330/.446 isn’t that great for a corner outfielder), so I think the Phils wouldn’t be able to make up Werthwhile’s production from that spot in the lineup. Still, it’s better to drop $1mil on Francisco with his numbers than $66 mil on Jason Bay.

  3. doc

    January 22, 2010 09:09 PM

    The problem with turning RF over to Brown is that he is yet another lefty in the lineup. Carlson Rubin or Placidly Polanco will be the best righties in the lineup.

  4. Aaron H

    January 23, 2010 12:09 PM

    Doc-I think one of the biggest misconceptions about the Phillies is that they’re a “lefty heavy” lineup so lefthanders can set them down pretty easily. As it turns out, most of their lefties actually hit LHP better. Check out their 2009 stats:
    Chase Utley vs. RHP: .279/.387/.489
    Chase Utley vs. LHP: .288/.417/.545

    Raul Ibanez vs. RHP: .265/.342/.517
    Raul Ibanez vs. LHP: .285/.359/.639

    And look at their switch-hitting CF:
    Shane Victorino vs. RHP: .283/.347/.440
    Shane Victoriono vs. LHP: .314/.385/.459

    So yes, we’ll miss Jayson Werth’s production, especially against LHP. But I wouldn’t be too concerned since our best lefties (Ryan Howard excluded, of course) actually hit LHP pretty well.

  5. Bill Baer

    January 23, 2010 12:19 PM

    Even Ryan Howard can hit lefties. It’s a misconception that he can’t, although his production against them has been in steady decline since 2006.

    To quote Matt Swartz:

    Ryan Howard hits lefties about as well as the average first baseman hits same handed pitching, and better than the average player hits same handed pitching. However, he will mash your righties.

  6. hk

    January 23, 2010 12:52 PM

    Last year, the Phillies team OPS was .787 vs. LHP’s (7th in MLB) and .779 vs. RHP’s (5th in MLB). That being said, I hope they bite the bullet in 2011 and re-sign Werth if the contract is at a fair price and let Dom Brown be the heir apparent in LF beginning in 2012.

    The extra year (unnecessarily) given to Ibanez may be the culprit in Werth leaving, similar to the extra year (unnecessarily) given to Moyer potentially being the reason for the Lee trade.

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