Amaro sees value in Mayberry as role player

Amaro sees value in Mayberry as role player

Phillies Nation: 11/26

December 3, 2013, 11:45 am
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John Mayberry Jr. hit .227 with 11 homers and struck out 90 times last season. (USA Today Images)

Ruben Amaro Jr. said there was never a doubt about it: John Mayberry Jr. was getting tendered a contract for 2014.

“Didn’t think about it all,” the Phillies' GM said when asked if he considered non-tendering Mayberry. “He was not a non-tender candidate for us. Any player who can hit 14 home runs in this day and age off the bench in limited at-bats and have the versatility he does … there was no thought to non-tendering him.”

Mayberry was one of four Phillies eligible for salary arbitration, joining pitchers Kyle Kendrick and Antonio Bastardo and outfielder Ben Revere, to be tendered a contract before Monday night’s deadline. A fifth arbitration-eligible player, utility infielder Kevin Frandsen, agreed with the club on a one-year contract worth $900,000. A player not at least offered a contract by midnight Monday would have become a free agent.

Mayberry, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was thought to be on the bubble after hitting just .227 with a .677 OPS in 353 at-bats in 2013. He made $517,000 in 2013. His 2014 salary could reach $1.5 million in arbitration.

Mayberry has spent at least part of the last five seasons with the Phillies. His best season was 2011 when he hit .273 with 15 homers, 49 RBIs and an .854 OPS in 267 at-bats.

“He’s a lot more valuable than I guess people think,” Amaro said. “Part of the equation is whether he’s viewed as an everyday player or not. Well, I don’t believe he’s an everyday player. I see him as fill-in-in-a-pinch guy. He’s got versatility. He can play first base and all three outfield positions. That versatility and the fact that he’s got some power are all things in our estimation that are pluses. He can be a role player on a team that can win.

“And it’s not like he’s an expensive player in this day and age. There is value in a guy who makes $1.5 million or something in that range.”

Tendering an arbitration-eligible player a contract on Dec. 2 does not guarantee that he will play for the club in April. These players can still be traded. Mayberry, Kendrick and Revere have all been mentioned as trade possibilities this offseason. Of the group, Mayberry could still be the most likely to be dealt as Amaro is on record as saying he would still like to tinker with the makeup of his outfield.

Amaro would not talk about specific trade possibilities, but he did acknowledge that, "No player on our roster is necessarily assured of being a Philadelphia Phillie on April 1.”

The Phillies have a number of utility infielders, including Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and non-roster player Reid Brignac. They also have Darin Ruf, who can play first base. Even with this depth, Amaro wanted to retain Frandsen, who hit .234 with a .637 OPS in 252 at-bats in 2013. Frandsen hit .338 with an .834 OPS in 195 at-bats with the big club in 2012.

“If you look at market, bench guys are getting expensive, too,” said Amaro, pointing to the deals that Willie Bloomquist (two years, $5.8 million) and Nick Punto (one year, $3 million) signed. “As far as what Frandsen can do off the bench, he’s a veteran who puts the ball in play. He’ll have good at-bats. Those guys can have good years and bad years, they can be lucky and unlucky. I know it’s hard to measure, but he hits the ball hard.

“He also plays three positions so he has some versatility. He’s not a great defender, but he can give a guy a spell and there’s value in that.

“That was the reason we signed him. And we got him under what the arbitration number would have been.”

Even as they were tendering contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, Amaro and his lieutenants continue to work on filling holes for the coming season.

“We’re looking for starting pitching depth, bullpen depth and more versatility in the outfield,” he said.

NL East rival Washington made a significant trade Monday night, acquiring starting pitcher Doug Fister from Detroit for three players.

Amaro was asked whether he pursued Fister.

“A lot of teams know we’re out there looking for pitching,” he said. “I don’t think we matched up with them.”

The Phils would like to add a reliever who can help in the seventh and eighth innings. They are also hoping that Mike Adams can return to the bullpen sooner rather than later. Adams had shoulder surgery last summer and he had a second procedure to repair a sports hernia early in the offseason.

“We’re going to be cautious with him, but it’s possible he could be ready to pitch in April,” Amaro said.

Odds and ends
• Amaro said there was nothing new on the status of free-agent pitcher Roy Halladay. The Phillies seem content to let Halladay’s market evolve before they decide whether to seriously pursue re-signing him.

• Amaro hopes to reach an agreement with Kendrick without an arbitration hearing. He said the team has not discussed a multi-year deal with the pitcher.

• Amaro said he has made an offer to a candidate for the club’s assistant hitting coach position and is waiting to hear back.

• The baseball world will start assembling in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday night for the winter meetings, which officially begin Monday.