Phillies Sign Laynce Nix
Comcast SportsNet’s Jim Salisbury with the goods on Twitter:
Nix deal w Phillies is for two years, sources say. [Link]
As mentioned here, the Phillies were rummaging through the free agent market for a left-handed outfielder. Although there were quite a few on the market, GM Ruben Amaro likes to act swiftly rather than waiting for the market to settle.
Nix possesses decent power, especially when he is used off of the bench. In 2009 with the Cincinnati Reds, Nix posted a .236 isolated power over 337 plate appearances. Last year, his ISO was .201 in 351 PA. He is not one for plate discipline, with a career walk rate under six percent. Depending on how he is used — whether solely as a bench bat or as part of a platoon in left field — that may or may not become an issue. Nix hits right-handed pitching significantly better — his career .317 wOBA (including .334-.341 in the past three years) against them is 90 points higher than his career production against southpaws, so a platoon may be a possibility.
Defensively, Nix grades out well according to UZR and Total Zone, found on FanGraphs and Baseball Reference, respectively. In 1371 innings in left field, Nix has a +5 UZR/150; +9 in center over 1771 innings. Per Total Zone, Nix saved 11 runs in 2009, 12 runs in 2010, and five runs last year.
As Salisbury reported, the deal is for two years, which is questionable even without knowing the specific dollar amount. Still, the deal is going to be small enough where its relative impact whether good or bad will be quite small. David DeJesus, a better player by all accounts, recently signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, so the Nix deal should come in under that. While I would have preferred Johnny Damon or Jason Kubel, they both may have been just a bit too expensive to fit in the Phillies’ budget under the $178 million luxury tax threshold. All in all, it’s hard to react to this signing with anything more than a shoulder shrug.
At least Nix will be what Ibanez should have been in 2011: a backup. In addition, he can theoretically play center field with some competence, although probably not much better than John Mayberry, Jr. could. Giving marginal bench players two year deals is now an established Ruben Amaro tradition, so I won’t feign surprise at that. I’ll wait until there is some news of the salary amount before passing final judgment, but it seems like another unnecessary signing that won’t really affect the team’s financial flexibility but doesn’t bode well for future talent evaluation.