Free Agency: Day 1

Jayson Werth is now a free agent after a strong run with the Phillies. (Ron Tarver/Staff Photographer)

The big news today, obviously, is that La Salle begins its defense of 14th place in the Atlantic 10 with an exhibition game against Philadelphia University at Tom Gola Arena. But it also happens to be the first full day of free agency, which is the time of year when baseball teams who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars attempt to sign baseball players who are worth millions of dollars under the watchful eye of sports writers who are worth hundreds of thousands of Marriott Points.

We've already paid significant attention to the Phillies' free agency game place, and we will continue to do so in the coming days. The first thing we addressed is the bullpen, because I anticipate that being the first area that the Phillies address. History suggests that the outfield market will be slower to develop as Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford and their representatives pore over their various options, but we will provide a comprehensive look at that in the not-too-distant future. The other potential need I highlighted a few days ago in a story in the Daily News, much to the consternation of the apparently-significant Wilson Valdez fan base, was infield depth. Given the public outcry that resulted from the suggestion that Valdez might not have a 2011 roster spot locked up -- the letters are fine, but the horse head in my bed was a bit much -- I should offer a quick clarification: I like Wilson Valdez. Great defender. Terrific arm. Came up big in some big spots at the plate. Most productive utility infielder they've had over the past few seasons. But he had a .306 on base percentage, and that was 34 points higher than his previous career average. He had a .667 OPS, and that was 27 points lower than the mark posted by Jimmy Rollins, who some suggested benching in favor of Valdez in the postseason. He grounded into 20 double plays, tied for fifth in the NL despite having more than 200 fewer plate appearances than the three players he was tied with. My only point? With Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Chase Utley all coming off injury-riddled seasons, the Phillies might look for some infield depth that would provide more offensive punch if called upon as a long-term fill-in.

Anyway, there are a few other key dates to keep in mind as the calendar slides toward Christmas.

Nov. 23 - This is the deadline by which teams must offer arbitration to their own free agents. The main person this concerns is Werth, who is a Type A Free Agent. The Phillies will absolutely offer Werth arbitration, since it is a win-win for them. If he accepts (which he won't, barring a complete collapse of the market), the Phillies get him on a one-year deal. If he rejects and he signs elsewhere, they will get two draft picks, one from the team that signs him, another in the supplemental round. The Phillies could also arbitration to Type B free agent Chad Durbin and preserve the right to get a supplemental pick if he signs elsewhere, but every indication I have received is that is highly unlikely.

Nov. 30 - The aforementioned free agents must accept or decline arbitration by this date.

Dec. 2 - This is the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players who are still under club control. The Phillies have two such players -- right fielder Ben Francisco and righthander Kyle Kendrick. At this point, I expect both players to get offers. The Phillies could decide to non-tender Kendrick and either re-sign him at a lower price or head into the season with Vance Worley as the No. 5 starter. But even if the Phillies think Kendrick will not end up as the No. 5 starter, he still provides controllable pitching depth, which is valuable.


Here are's Top Free Agents:

1. Cliff Lee, LHP
2. Carl Crawford, OF
3. Jayson Werth, RF
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Victor Martinez, C
6. Adam Dunn, 1B
7. Carl Pavano, RHP
8. Jorge De La Rosa, LHP
9. Andy Pettitte, LHP
10. Jake Westbrook, RHP

Here is how they rate the relievers:

1. Rafael Soriano
2. Joaquin Benoit
3. Koji Uehara
4. J.J. Putz
5. Kerry Wood
6. Hisanori Takahashi
7. Grant Balfour
8. Scott Downs
9. Jon Rauch
10. Jesse Crain
11. Frank Francisco
12. Jason Frasor
13. Brian Fuentes
14. Matt Guerrier


As we relayed to you last night, Jamie Moyer suffered a set-back in the Dominican Republic yesterday while pitching for his winter-league team.

Felipe Alou, the general manager of Escogido, where Moyer was working his way back from the elbow injury that ended his 2010 season in late-July, told the Associated Press that Moyer "threw a pitch and hurt himself. He has a bruise the size of a golf ball at his elbow."

Alou said Moyer will fly to California today or tomorrow to meet with renowned elbow specialist Lewis Yocum, who had helped Moyer develop a non-surgical rehab plan that Moyer hoped would have him healthy and ready to pitch again by spring training.