Updated: Tuesday, 9:32 a.m.
A month before the start of spring training, the Phillies are still building roster depth. The club signed veteran infielder Ronny Cedeno to a minor-league contract on Monday (see story), and more reinforcements could be on the way as club officials sift through the lot of remaining free agents.
“We’re looking to add pitching depth in the bullpen and rotation, still trolling,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “They’d likely be non-roster guys.”
Two pitchers to keep an eye on are Ryan Madson and Chad Gaudin. Madson, of course, was a stalwart in the Phillies’ bullpen during the club’s run of five straight NL East titles from 2007-2011. He departed via free agency after the 2011 season, but did not pitch in 2012 or 2013 because of an elbow injury. The Phillies have kept tabs on the 33-year-old right-hander this winter and haven’t ruled out bringing him to spring training for a look.
Gaudin, who turns 31 in March, went to camp as a non-roster player with the Giants last season and ended up pitching to a 3.06 ERA in 97 innings while making 12 starts and 18 relief appearances. His versatility could be intriguing to the Phils.
Amaro is also looking to add outfield depth and a left-handed hitter -- that might end up being the same guy -- to compete for a bench job.
“There are still some guys we’re talking to,” he said.
The Phils have considered Lyle Overbay as a possible left-handed bat, though he may not be ideal because he is a first baseman. Overbay hit 14 home runs in 445 at-bats while filling in at first base for the Yankees last season.
Cedeno has played for six teams and was a regular at shortstop for the Cubs in 2006 and the Pirates in 2010. Much like non-roster player Yuniesky Betancourt last spring, he will push Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen for work as a utility infielder. Reid Brignac, another non-roster player, will also be in the infield mix.
“He gives us more depth in the middle infield,” Amaro said of Cedeno. “The whole point of bringing him in is if we have an injury or a problem, we have a veteran guy. He’ll fight it out for a spot. We’re not giving any jobs away. He’s got extensive major-league experience. Hopefully he’ll push guys.”
WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.
The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.
Benoit began the 2016 season with the Mariners and had a 5.18 ERA in 26 games. He was traded to Toronto in July and gave up just one run in 23 2/3 innings over 25 games, but did not pitch in the postseason after suffering a torn calf muscle in late September.
The right-hander has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime 3.79 ERA in 712 games.
Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.
Benoit has mostly pitched in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could choose to trade Gomez or Neris.
Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.
The Phillies tendered contracts to three arbitration-eligible players on Friday night and set another free.
Reliever Jeanmar Gomez and infielders Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis were tendered contracts for the 2017 season while outfielder Cody Asche was let go after four seasons with the club.
The Phillies signaled their intention to let Asche go when they designated him for assignment, a move that removed him from the 40-man roster, on Friday afternoon. The club had the option of trading Asche — and likely had discussions with other clubs — but ultimately decided to non-tender him before the 8 p.m. deadline. The move made Asche a free agent.
The Phils had removed Asche from the 40-man roster to clear a spot for David Rollins, a left-handed reliever who was claimed off waivers from Texas on Friday (see story).
Galvis and Hernandez, the team’s regular shortstop and second baseman, respectively, were certain to receive contracts for 2017. Gomez was less certain. He saved 37 games for the Phils in 2016, but struggled badly late in the season.
Phillies officials will try to negotiate 2017 salaries with all three players. If an agreement cannot be reached with a player, an arbitration hearing will be held later in the winter to determine that player’s salary for the coming season.
Gomez made $1.4 million in 2016, Galvis $2 million and Hernandez $525,000. According to mlbtraderumors.com, Gomez projects to make $4.6 million in arbitration, Galvis $4.4 million and Hernandez $2.5 million.
The Phillies' roster is full at 40.