How The Grant Balfour Fallout Affects the Phillies

Addition by Salary Subtraction could be the gift Phillies fans are waiitng for. (Credit: Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

As you may or may not know, the Baltimore Orioles will not have their new, shiny, volatile closer for the holiday season, as the two-year deal fell apart due to lackluster physical exam results.  As you may or may not know, this news actually affects the Phillies.

Ouch.

Ouch.

Undoubtedly, the reliever market is out of control this season; LHP Boone Logan, who signed a three-year $16.5 million deal with the Colorado Rockies, is coming off elbow surgery, and given his heavy usage of sliders these past few seasons, could very well be headed for Tommy John surgery sooner rather than later.

The Dodgers gave Brian Wilson a one-year $10 million pact with an $8.5 million option for 2015 to set-up behind Kenley Jansen, while logging just 13.2 IP of 0.66 ball following his second Tommy John surgery; a gamble, while likely to payoff, perhaps could be conceived as the Dodgers outbidding themselves for” The Beard.”  Chad Qualls, yes, that Chad Qualls, despite having a decent year (63.3% GB%/ 3.32 FIP) earned a two-year $6 million deal with the Astros, who probably won’t have the aforementioned Qualls, recently acquired Dexter Fowler or recently signed Scott Feldman on their roster come August 1 2014.

From 2010-2012, Qualls was worth -3.4 WAR, yet is $6mm richer. Last, Edward Mujica, a replacement level player this last season (whom the Phillies had interest in), earned a two-year $9.5 million deal from the Red Sox, despite the arm troubles and terrible second half (opposing .923 OPS; 4.74 FIP), where he will setup Koji Uehara. I could explain how two years is the new one year when it comes to signing contracts (looking at you, Bartolo Colon and Scott Kazmir) but that’s for another day.

Addition by Salary Subtraction could be the gift Phillies fans are waiitng for. (Credit: Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Addition by Salary Subtraction could be the holiday gift Phillies fans are waiitng for. (Credit: Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

 Thanks to the laws of supply and demand, it is likely teams will step up their financial commitment for a long-term closer, with Balfour getting a one-year pact from a team (perhaps the Yankees or Rays), and lo and behold, there’s Jonathan Papelbon rumors again.  According to Philly.com, the 1983 World Series opponents have discussed a Papelbon trade:

“MASN’s Roch Kubatko noted that if a deal were to crystallize, the Phillies would have to be willing to open up and eat a chunk of Papelbon’s deal, which still nets him $26 million over the next two years, with a $13 million option for 2016. The Orioles aren’t anxious to spend wads of cash, however, and that being the case, it’s hard to imagine these conversative offseason Phillies finding a number that makes both parties happy.”

As it stands right now, Papelbon still has two years and $26 million remaining on his contract, with another $13 million waiting if the embattled closer finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 total between 2014 and 2015.

With the Phillies up against their spending limit (just like the Mariners!), it’s hard to see him being used liberally, and if they don’t move him-by every indication, there’s little interest in him–it’ll be very interesting to see how this Papelbon saga finishes.  But even if this Balfour fiasco does move the Papelbon trade needle very slightly, there are more factors that could potentially hurt the Phillies.

What makes the reliever market so interesting is the turbulent performances of usually big-time names, year in and year out; essentially, the biggest crap-shoot of all.  At this point, if the Phillies can’t move Papelbon, and Mike Adams still isn’t ready at the start of the season, then they’re going to have to add some veteran back-end pieces, despite the encouraging performances of Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus.

2009 AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey (Career 3.13 FIP) is still out there, coming off labrum surgery, and with the Dodgers setting the market, probably will receive a one-year deal with performance incentives in the $7-$10 million range. Mitchell Boggs is also out there (7.42 FIP in 2013), but arguably was a key cog in the Cardinals giving way to the Wachas, Kellys Millers and Rosenthals of the world; without Boggs’ struggles, would the Cardinals have paved the way for all their rookies? Boggs’ velocity charts are also a bit frightening, as well.

While in theory, the Balfour failed physical could perhaps hasten a trade of Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies are going to have to realize they need to eat most of the contact, and give the remaining money to a rehabbing or fringe reliever.  With the idiosyncrasies of the volatile reliever market, it would be in the Phillies’ best interest to just give a veteran a shot.  It’d be the first and welcome step in a long list of philosophical changes in the organization.

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