Phillies Avoid Arbitration with John Mayberry
The Phillies avoided arbitration with outfielder John Mayberry prior to the deadline yesterday, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.587 million, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. It’s just shy of Matt Swartz’s projection of $1.7 million. Mayberry was eligible for arbitration for the first time and can become a free agent after the 2016 season.
Mayberry was a non-tender option at the beginning of December, but GM Ruben Amaro opted to offer him a contract despite ranking among baseball’s least productive players in 2013. Mayberry has failed to live up to the promise he showed in 2011 as a part-time outfielder. Over the last two seasons, he has hit for a low average, showed mediocre plate discipline, subtracted value with his base running, and continued to struggle against right-handed pitching.
Of course, this isn’t Mayberry’s fault. He is who he is. It’s the Phillies’ fault for failing to use him properly, by platooning him or using him specifically as a pinch-hitter against left-handed relievers. After taking 41 percent of his plate appearances against lefties in 2011, he has seen that rate drop to 38 percent in 2012 and 28 percent last season.
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The Phillies did not agree to deals with Antonio Bastardo (second year of arbitration eligibility) and Ben Revere (first year) prior to the deadline. Per Zolecki, Bastardo filed for $2.5 million while the Phillies countered with $1.675 million. Revere filed for $2.425 million and the Phillies countered with $1.4 million. The Phillies will likely settle with both near the respective midpoints of $2.1 million and $1.9 million. Swartz projected $2 million and $1.5 million, respectively, as well.
Bastardo has been Jekyll and Hyde over the past two seasons. While he had decent peripherals in 2012, the results were lacking due to an above-average BABIP and home run rate. Last season, the results were there but the peripherals were worse — his strikeout rate declined from 36 percent to 26 percent — and he benefited from a fluky-high strand rate and a fluky-low home run rate. ZiPS sees Bastardo posting a 3.14 ERA in 48 and two-thirds innings in 2014, which is about halfway between his 2012-13 seasons. That would still put him among the better relievers in baseball, which is not a bad bargain for $2 million. Bastardo’s salary, of course, will rise over the next two seasons. He will eventually have more value to the Phillies in a trade, or if they can’t move him, he may eventually become a non-tender candidate.
The Phillies will get a decent bargain for their center fielder as well with Revere for around $2 million. After a sluggish April, Revere caught fire, hitting .347 with 17 stolen bases between the start of May and July 13, when he suffered a broken ankle. Revere went on the disabled list and did not return for the rest of the season, forcing the Phillies to use Mayberry in center field along with Cesar Hernandez, Roger Bernadina, Michael Martinez, and Casper Wells. The Phillies quickly learned the value of a legitimate center fielder, even one who may never be quite as good as Shane Victorino was.
If Revere can reproduce the success he had last season, even if he hits .290 instead of around .350, the Phillies will want to think about signing him to a contract extension in the off-season, buying out the final two years of arbitration and potentially one or two years of free agency as well.
Once the Phillies settle with Bastardo and Revere to avoid going before an arbitrator, we can cast our eyes to the horizon as spring training fast approaches. We have less than a month left until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida on February 13.