Should the Phillies Have Interest in Reuniting with Vance Worley?

Vance Worley. Remember him? The begoggled right-hander who racked up the backwards K’s with reckless abandoned in his 277 2/3 innings with the Phillies from 2010-12? The Phillies sent him to the Minnesota Twins in the Ben Revere trade in December 2012, but the Twins recently outrighted him to Triple-A after he went unclaimed on waivers.

Worley’s star has fallen fast. He posted a 3.01 ERA in 2011 with the Phillies and was the Twins’ Opening Day starter last year, and now he might be starting Opening Day in Rochester of all places. With the Phillies in need of starting pitching — they’re dangerously close to calling on Jeff Manship to join the rotation — Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that a Worley reunion would not be out of the question. Would it make sense for the Phillies?

Worley has a Major League salary of $527,500 and will be arbitration-eligible for three more years before hitting free agency, so the Phillies would have plenty of control over his future. Acquiring him would cost the Phillies next to nothing. Worley is coming off of a horrible season in which he posted a 7.21 ERA with a neutered strikeout rate (11%) in 48 2/3 innings at the Major League level. With Rochester, he posted a 3.88 ERA but still struggled to miss bats, recording only 34 strikeouts (13.5% strikeout rate) in 58 innings. Considering that Worley passed through waivers with ease, the phones in the Twins’ front office aren’t exactly ringing off the hook. The Twins’ leverage is virtually nonexistent. Though, for this reason, the Twins may prefer to hang on to Worley rather than deal him.

It’d be an obvious buy-low scenario for the Phillies, which is always nice. Worley may not have “future ace” written on his arm, but in his two seasons as a regular part of the Phillies’ rotation, he was able to rack up strikeouts and showcase slightly above-average control. It would not be surprising to see him bounce back and be a reliable contributor at the back of the rotation.

Even if the Phillies were to acquire Worley, they wouldn’t have to immediately put him in the starting rotation. Worley could report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley while Manship or David Buchanan pitch out of the fifth slot. If Worley pitches well, he could then displace either pitcher. Or, if the Phillies suffer another injury in the rotation, Worley could fill in.

One other factor to consider is that the Phillies have a very real need for pitching depth, but are brushing up against the $189 million luxury tax threshold. Worley’s salary is a hair above the Major League minimum, so he would have virtually no effect on the payroll compared to any other option the Phillies might use.

As a result of a rather noticeable rash of injuries among pitchers lately — not just with the Phillies but across baseball — pitching is at a premium. It’s always better to have too much pitching than too little, a lesson the Dodgers learned well last season. They went into spring training with a surfeit of starting pitching and were reportedly attempting to trade two pitchers. As spring progressed, the Dodgers dealt with injuries and wound up being thankful they held onto their pitchers rather than trade them. Overall, they used 11 different starters during the season. The Phillies aren’t likely to only use the current crop of starters; they’ll likely have to plump Triple-A as well as the waiver wire and free agency to add depth. Acquiring Worley could be one useful, preemptive transaction.

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26 comments

  1. Corn

    March 24, 2014 07:33 AM

    I always thought he was going to end up in the pen as the long man but then they went and traded him.

  2. Fran

    March 24, 2014 08:12 AM

    Sure, why not?!! They brought back ABREU!!!! And he’s about 90!!!!????????????????????????????????

  3. Brian

    March 24, 2014 08:51 AM

    When he was here, it was assumed that hitters would eventually figure him out, and stop being fooled by his two-seamer. Was that the case in Minnesota, or was he unable to pitch to the ability that he did here in Philly?

    • Bill Baer

      March 24, 2014 09:01 AM

      Worley had elbow surgery in September 2012 and also dealt with shoulder inflammation with the Twins, but I don’t think it can explain the totality of his struggles. I do think he was figured out as well.

  4. PersonalCatchers

    March 24, 2014 09:44 AM

    Bring him back, only if Brian Schneider comes with him ;)

  5. Nick

    March 24, 2014 10:39 AM

    If they didn’t claim him on waivers when they could have gotten him for nothing, why trade for him?

    • Nick

      March 24, 2014 11:00 AM

      Instead of just finding fault with the article that you wrote and being glib about it (sorry), I’ll say that I just don’t see this happening. I agree that it’s a good idea, but they could have had him on waivers for nothing. They didn’t jump at that opportunity, so then why would we give up an asset, no matter how invaluable, for him?

    • MattWinks

      March 24, 2014 11:47 AM

      If you claim him on waivers he automatically goes on the 40 man roster and you would need to send him through waivers to get him to AAA (because he is out of options). In other words, Worley not on the 40 man roster has a lot more value than Worley on the roster.

  6. Chris S.

    March 24, 2014 12:11 PM

    Bring back The Vanimal!

  7. Jonny5

    March 24, 2014 01:54 PM

    “Worley is coming off of a horrible season in which he posted a 7.21 ERA with a neutered strikeout rate (11%) in 48 2/3 innings at the Major League level.”

    Could you be more harsh? “Neutered k-rate” ? That’s just cruel man….

  8. Bob

    March 24, 2014 04:26 PM

    Red flags go off when a player wears a shirt that says “Running Sux” or whatever nonsense Worley had on it. If your a professional athlete and don’t believe in cardiovascular training, I wonder about your dedication to sport particularly when you’re a starting pitcher expected to go deep into games in 90 degree weather. And wasn’t Worley mildly confrontational? If I recall correctly, he wouldn’t pitch to Ruiz for whatever reason. Schneider had to catch him. The Phillies downplayed the issue, but it seems odd that Schneider caught so many of his games.

    • Brian (not the same one as the guy above)

      March 25, 2014 12:29 AM

      I didn’t see it so I’m taking you at your word here, but I see 3 ways of interpreting that shirt:
      1) He’s actually lazy
      2) He’s trying to be ironic about it, since he’s a professional athlete and all.
      3) He’s trying to show how NOT lazy he is by wearing a shirt that says how bad something is, but then doing it anyway (which I’m inclined to assume he is, since, again, he’s a professional athlete).

      If I had to put them in order of likelihood, I’d go 2, (large gap), 3, 1. I really don’t see any red flags here, and, not to be condescending here, but your response to the shirt is classic negadelphia.

  9. amarosucks

    March 24, 2014 08:41 PM

    No.

  10. Mark66

    March 25, 2014 07:39 AM

    Given the low cost to sign Worley it would seem to be in the Phils best interest at the present time.

  11. Carmine Spellane

    March 25, 2014 09:51 AM

    You say it would not be surprising to se him have a bounce back year. Any evidence for this conclusion?

  12. STM

    March 25, 2014 10:13 AM

    Are you kidding? He is unwanted by the worst pitching staff in the league and you quoted his stats, he can’t get anyone out. Moving him was one of Amaro’s few good moves.

  13. Ted

    March 25, 2014 10:33 AM

    Yes, bring him back, Ruiz can help him with his pitches, and settle him down if he is healthy. We need pitching help!

  14. Stan Jedrusiak

    March 25, 2014 11:51 AM

    Yes. Worley is worth giving a shot! Get ‘em!

  15. Ed B

    March 25, 2014 11:56 AM

    I think getting Worley back is a good deal and who know he may just come back from his doldrums and pitch well for the Phillies.

  16. Howard Wachtel

    March 25, 2014 10:57 AM

    It shocking that you would waste an entire article to cover the foolish idea of bringing Worley back to the Phillies. Last year the talking heads in the blogosphere thought that the Phillies gave up too much for Ben Revere last year, and never admitted that they were wrong. Also, why do you think it is “dangerous” to include Manship or Buchanan in the starting rotation? Are you impressed by Roberto Hernandez or A.J. Burnett? I don’t expect a great season from either of those.

  17. JAMES A. KRUMM

    March 25, 2014 12:10 PM

    As for Vance Worley, what I read above tells me the Phillies have little if any thing to lose & gain someone who thy know well + did well overall. Yes take him back & send him to triple A would make sense to me.

  18. Danny M

    March 25, 2014 01:56 PM

    I would pass. He is terrible.

  19. Vegas

    March 25, 2014 04:28 PM

    Too late the pirates got him for cash

  20. Robby Bonfire

    March 26, 2014 12:43 AM

    Worley, Happ, Madsen, and of course, the redoubtable Joe Blanton. These guys really went into the tank after their obligatory burn-out stint, here. “Charlie Lives,” long after he got vaporized.

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