When looking at who is likely to progress, the contract status of those on the current 25 man and 40 man roster is critical to evaluating potential next steps, so here it goes:
Catcher: Carlos Ruiz will be back and is scheduled to make $8.5M next season. Wil Nieves has done a real nice job as a back up and is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of this season. He made $1.125M this year and should probably be in line to get between $1.5–2M next year. The Phils would be wise to bring him back based on the large question marks surrounding both Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp right now. Going into next season, Joseph will have two options remaining and Rupp will have one option left.
Corner Infield: Ryan Howard’s $25M salary is well documented and as much as I would like to see him move on, I expect him back at 1B, collecting in excess of 450 AB’s next year. Cody Asche will have a salary right around the major league minimum of $510K and all three options remaining next year. It will be interesting to see how things play out with Maikel Franco a certainty to be added to the 40 man roster and will be knocking at Asche’s doorstep. Darin Ruf will go into next season slated to make just above the major league minimum if he sticks and has one option remaining.
Middle Infield: Chase Utley will be back at $15M and Jimmy Rollins will be entering the final year of his contract at $11M. Things get interesting when looking at middle infield backups. Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez both will be fighting for major league jobs with no options remaining to send them to the minors. Both are pre-arbitration and would make around the major league minimum. Andres Blanco is the 5th middle infielder currently on the 40 man roster and has played quite well in limited action for Philadelphia. Blanco has the advantage of playing 2B, SS, and 3B very well, but the Phils may very well be able to sign him to a lucrative two way contract to guarantee his return to the organization.
Outfield: Marlon Byrd appears very likely to be back and making $8M next season. In CF, Ben Revere seems to have solidified his hold with an excellent second half, hitting among the league leaders which is shielding him for continued criticism for his very poor arm, and lack of walks from the leadoff position. After making $1.95M this season, Revere will likely get a substantial raise entering his second arbitration season. In LF, Domonic Brown will be entering his first arbitration eligible season in 2015, after making 550K this year. His 2015 salary is likely to be fairly manageable based on how poor of a year he had this year. Grady Sizemore will be a free agent at the end of this year, and is unlikely to return in my opinion. I am not sure how the Phils could justify spending multi million dollars on bringing him back, as a 32 year old on a team rebuilding (although as we know, stranger things have happened). John Mayberry Jr. will be out of options entering Spring Training next season and his Phillies career is likely drawing to a close. I would hope the Phils have reached the end of the road with his continued lack of production. The minor league Outfielders currently on the 40 are Kelly Dugan and Aaron Altherr. Neither are likely to make the team in the Spring and both have 2 options remaining.
Starting Pitching: The Phils would love to unload Cliff Lee and his $25M contract for next year, but are certainly inhibited by his uncertain health. Cole Hamels will be back at $22.5M for next year. AJ Burnett’s return is a question mark as he continues to talk retirement, however there is a $15M mutual option and $12.75M player option (with 32 starts this year) that may lure him back. Kyle Kendrick made almost $7.7M this year and will become an unrestricted free agent following this season. God willing, he will not be returning. David Buchanan will go into 2015 with two options remaining and having pitched well enough to be a leading candidate for rotation spot 4 or 5. The only other starting pitcher currently on the 40 man roster is Jon Pettibone, who missed the large majority of the season injured, has just one option remaining and will be a major questions mark entering 2015. Jerome Williams has pitched well in his “try out” thus far, but far too early to tell what we may or may not have with a player that has failed in multiple organizations. So, the only true “definite” appears to be Hamels, but the rotation is likely to include both Lee and Buchanan before the Phils attempt to round things out from the outside and those currently outside the 40.
Bullpen: Lots of relievers on the 40 man currently, so lets go one by one. Mike Adams, who has spent most of his time with the Phils on the disabled list, has a $6M club option for next season. He wont be back at that price and is unlikely to be back at all. Phillippe Aumont will, at long last, be out of options and I would be very surprised to see him back. Antonio Bastardo’s situation will be interesting to watch. He made close to $2M this season and has not performed up to expectations. He will be entering his 3rd year of arbitration, and is likely to get $2.5M. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on another club with other viable LOOGY’s for the Phils to depend on. Justin DeFratus has likely cemented a place in the 2015 bullpen with his performance this year, is still pre-arb making close to the major league minimum and has no options remaining after this year. Jake Diekman has one option remaining and like DeFratus will come cheap, still pre-arb. He has generally been very effective and will be in the Phils ‘pen in 2015.
Moving along, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has performed very well in the minors during the second half of 2014, and at a guaranteed salary of $4M a year, the Phillies will be doing everything humanly possible to assure that money is spent on a major leaguer. Ethan Martin will have one option remaining entering 2015, and I expect that unless he is lights out in the Spring, the Phils are likely to use that option. Very difficult to complain about the $13M that Jonathan Papelbon is scheduled to make next season, as based on performance, he is deserving. That said, with Kenny GIles knocking at the door, the Phils would be wise to explore trade options. BJ Rosenberg is currently on the 40 man roster and without options come 2015. He had a brutal, injury plagued 2014 and it is difficult to see a scenario with him returning next season. Kenny Giles will go into 2015 making the major league minimum, as the Phils set up man, and with all his options remaining. Luis Garcia has been lights out for Lehigh Valley, but simply could not get outs during multiple stints in Philly. He will have one option remaining coming into next season. Mario Hollands was the surprise member of the bullpen this Spring, and managed to hang on in the majors through ups and downs this season. With three options remaining, Hollands immediate future is dependant on what help the Phils may choose to bring in. Finally, Cesar Jiminez has been excellent for Lehigh Valley over thre last two seasons and has pitched very well, albeit in low leverage situations for the Phillies. Without options, Jiminez will be one of those may be elsewhere based on circumstance. So, to summarize, I see the definites from the bullpen as: Papelbon, Giles, DeFratus, Gonzalez, and Diekman. I see the other three jobs up for grabs.