Phillies Avoid Arbitration with Antonio Bastardo
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that the Phillies have avoided arbitration with reliever Antonio Bastardo, agreeing to a one-year, $2 million deal yesterday. That leaves Ben Revere as the only player who could still reach an arbitration hearing in February, but the Phillies will likely reach a solution within the next week.
In a write-up of the Phillies’ arb-eligible players, I wrote about Bastardo:
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.
In the following two heat maps, you can see the change in contact rate:
Where hitters had to swing at pitches on the edges of the strike zone in 2012, Bastardo struggled to generate swings and misses in 2013, leading to significantly more contact inside the strike zone. It wasn’t reflected in his 2.32 ERA because he had some good fortune with stranding runners (82.4 percent, above his career average 75 percent) and did not allow many home runs (3.8 percent of fly balls, below his career average 8.1 percent). 2013 was the worst full season of Bastardo’s career going by xFIP.
Bastardo didn’t lose velocity, so it may have simply been an aberration in a small sample of 42 and two-thirds innings, but it’s worth keeping an eye on, nonetheless. He should still see plenty of high-leverage situations early in the season setting up for closer Jonathan Papelbon, but if he doesn’t regain his ability to miss bats, the Phillies have enough bullpen depth to withstand the misfortune.