What are the remaining concerns facing Phillies?
John Mayberry (middle) hit .227 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs in 384 plate appearances in 2013. (USA Today Images)
In November 2008, Ruben Amaro Jr. made his first trade as Phillies general manager when he acquired outfielder John Mayberry Jr. from the Texas Rangers for outfielder Greg Golson.
Five years later, Mayberry’s future with the Phillies is a subject of debate that is about to reach a resolution.
The deadline for offering 2014 contracts to players that are eligible for salary arbitration arrives at midnight Monday night. Players who are not offered contracts become free agents.
The Phillies have five arbitration-eligible players: pitchers Kyle Kendrick and Antonio Bastardo, infielder Kevin Frandsen, and outfielders Mayberry and Ben Revere.
Amaro is on record as saying he will tender a contract to Kendrick, and that’s not a surprise considering the team’s need for starting pitching depth.
Bastardo, a key lefty reliever, and Revere, the team’s starting centerfielder in 2013, are certain to be offered contracts.
It’s not clear how the team will proceed with Frandsen. The Phils could tender him a deal, or move forward with a cast of utility infielders that includes Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Darin Ruf (for first base duty) and maybe non-roster candidate Reid Brignac.
Mayberry, who turns 30 later this month, is the most interesting call. Amaro indicated a few weeks ago that he would tender Mayberry a contract, but that may have been the GM speak of a man who saw no value in tipping his hand. As the deadline approaches, Mayberry looks to be on the bubble.
Mayberry made $517,000 while hitting .227 with a .677 OPS in 353 at-bats in 2013. He could make in the neighborhood of $1.5 million in the arbitration process.
Mayberry’s ability to add depth at the centerfield position has been attractive to the Phillies, who must weigh that against his rising salary. Amaro is on record as saying he is still looking to upgrade the outfield and that could also factor in the decision on which way to go with Mayberry.
Teams don't make these decisions lightly. The Dodgers once non-tendered Jayson Werth and he went on to become an all-star in Philadelphia.
Last year, the Phillies did not offer a contract to arbitration-eligible outfielder Nate Schierholtz. He became a free agent, signed with the Cubs and had a strong 2013 season with a career-high 21 homers and 68 RBIs.
Arbitration-eligible players that are offered contracts can sign at any time or exchange arbitration figures with their clubs on Jan. 17. If the two sides can’t negotiate a salary, a hearing will be held during the first two weeks of February.
The free-agent market will grow once the tender deadline passes. The Phillies are still in the market for late-game relief help. A name that could interest them if he is not offered a contract: John Axford, who finished last season with St. Louis.