Phillies Sign Ronny Cedeno; Still Interested in Adding Depth
Yesterday, the Phillies signed utility infielder Ronny Cedeno to a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league camp. Cedeno will turn 31 on February 2 and will be entering his tenth season as a big leaguer. While he’s not much with the bat as his career .281 wOBA indicates, he has the ability to play at second base and shortstop and can fill in at third base and in the outfield corners in a pinch.
Cedeno will be in the mix for a bench job along with Freddy Galvis, Reid Brignac, and Andres Blanco. The glut of back-up veteran infielders could mean the Phillies prefer to have Galvis start the season in Triple-A to get regular at-bats, rather than getting one at-bat every other game as the last man on the bench.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are still looking to make some more depth signings. Specifically, Salisbury names pitchers Chad Gaudin and Ryan Madson, and first baseman Lyle Overbay. Let’s start with Overbay, who turns 37 on January 28. While the Phillies have a handful of lefties in the starting lineup, their bench is lacking a left-handed hitter. With Kevin Frandsen, one of the utility infielders, Cesar Hernandez, Darin Ruf, and John Mayberry already on the bench, it will be tough for the Phillies to make enough space on the roster for a left-handed bat unless they decide to break camp with an 11-man pitching staff, which seems unlikely.
Overbay got regular time with the Yankees last season filling in for the injured Mark Teixeira at first base. In 486 plate appearances, he posted a .303 wOBA while averaging three strikeouts for every one walk. Overbay also has a hefty platoon split, posting a .748 OPS against right-handers last season compared to .516 against lefties. While this is less of a big deal for a bench player as opposed to a regular, manager Ryne Sandberg would still be pressed to strategically deploy Overbay correctly.
Gaudin will be 31 years old in about two months and is coming off of a bounce-back year with the Giants. They started out using him in the bullpen, where he posted a 2.05 ERA in 30 and two-thirds innings of work. At the beginning of June, the Giants moved him into the rotation and he turned out to be quite useful. He had the odd blowup but overall posted a 3.53 ERA in 66 and one-third innings over 12 starts. His results weren’t terribly fluky beyond a 77 percent strand rate, more than six percent above his career average. He also had a .278 BABIP, 27 points below his career average, but in the span of 98 innings — divvied up one-third into the bullpen and two-thirds as a starter — it’s not unbelievable.
Gaudin would make a nice depth signing for the Phillies, who lack it in the rotation. Currently, there are six starters, three of which have guaranteed spots: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Kyle Kendrick. The final two spots will go to Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Roberto Hernandez (formerly known as Fausto Carmona), and Jonathan Pettibone, depending on who performs the best in spring training. Throwing Gaudin into the mix, especially if he can be had on a non-guaranteed deal, can only be a good thing.
Finally, there’s our old friend Ryan Madson. Once a stalwart of the Phillies’ bullpen, Madson has had trouble staying healthy ever since he became a free agent after the 2011 season. He signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Reds for the 2012 season, but he tore a ligament in his right elbow in spring training and missed the entire season. He then signed with the Angels on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million guaranteed with another $3.5 million in bonuses and incentives, which he never ended up earning because he had trouble bouncing back from Tommy John surgery.
If you look at Madson’s Baseball Reference page, it ends at 2011. He has thrown one inning in professional baseball since working a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the ninth in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals. He threw one inning with the Angels’ Single-A affiliate in Inland Empire and found himself back on the shelf.
Obviously, Madson would only require a Minor League deal with an invitation to spring training, but the Phillies don’t need him. Their bullpen is good and deep enough as it is. There is no need to add an aging, injury-prone veteran into the mix, even if it wouldn’t cost the Phillies anything. Any playing time he would get in spring training would be at the expense of a younger player who would benefit more from the opportunity to audition.
The Phillies already have sent out spring training invitations to 17 players: seven pitchers, two catchers, four infielders, and four outfielders. They’ll have a very active spring training and should be done adding players for the most part. There really aren’t any players left that would both make a positive impact and would not require a multi-year deal or cost a draft pick (the Phillies’ first-round pick is protected, but they’d have to relinquish their second-round pick). As a result, the next month-plus should be quiet for the Phillies.