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.”
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.
Cody Asche's time with the Phillies has come to an end.
The Phillies claimed LHP David Rollins off waivers from the Texas Rangers on Friday. To make room on the 40-man roster, Asche was designated for assignment. The Phillies had until 8 p.m. on Friday to tender a contract to the outfielder, but they instead chose to free up the roster spot for Rollins.
Asche played four seasons with the Phillies from 2013-16 after he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011. The St. Charles, Mo. native had a .213/.284/.350 batting line this past season over 71 games. His best season with the Phillies came as their starting third baseman in 2014, hitting 10 home runs and driving home 46 runs in 121 games.
Rollins has been on four different rosters this offseason. He pitched 31 games in relief for the Seattle Mariners over the last two seasons, sporting a 7.60 ERA over 34 1/3 innings. He was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs 15 days after the World Series and then subsequently claimed again by the Rangers.
Rollins was a 24th round draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2011 MLB Draft and was traded a year later to the Houston Astros. Prior to the 2015 season, the Mariners picked Rollins in the Rule 5 draft after the Astros chose not to protect him.