The Phillies made little secret of their wishes for bolstering their bullpen this season, and Danys Baez was not number on on their list of priorities. But given some of the contracts awarded to targets like Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney, who signed for a combined $26 million over five years, and the demands of incumbent righthander Chan Ho Park, whom the team had hoped to retain, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is looking at the two-year, $5.25 million deal he gave the former Orioles righthander as providing pretty good bang for his buck.
"As far as the marketplace was concernted, I think that this was a pretty nice deal for us," Amaro said.
Of course, Amaro went on to say, "the proof is in the pudding," but the Phillies are familiar enough with Baez to be optimistic about his chances of whipping up a batch worthy of his $2.625 million-per-year pricetag.
Assistant general manager Chuck Lamar was the general manager of the Devil Rays when they signed Baez as a free agent in 2004. The imposing 6-foot-3, 225-pound righthander went on to save 71 games while posting a 3.21 ERA over the next two seasons. But perhaps a more telling vote of confidence came from assistant general manager Scott Proefrock, who was a member of an Orioles front office that gave Baez what turned out to be an three-year albatros of a contract worth $19 million in 2006. Baez went 0-6 with a 6.44 ERA in his first year in Baltimore, then missed all of 2008 after undergoing elbow surgery. But the former Cuban defector, who left the Cuban national team in 1999 during a tournament in Winnipeg, Canada, turned in a solid campaign last season, posting a 4.02 ERA and impressive 1.130 WHIP while throwing 71.2 innings in 59 appearances.
Baez said he feels as healthy now as he did in the five seasons before his surgery. In fact, during a recent phone conversation with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who was his manager in Cleveland in 2001-02, Baez stressed this point.
"I'm healthy," Baez said. "I still have all my fastball, all my ptiches. I know I can help the team. I'm not talking about late in teh agme or early. I want to win and make it to the playoffs.". Baez held opposing hitters to a .222 average, including .197 against righthanded hitters, and induced 137 ground balls, which was tied for fifth-most among American League relievers. In his final 19 games of the season, Baez posted a 3.06 ERA and a .190 opponents’ batting average.
“Danys brings both experience and success to our bullpen,” general manager Ruben Amaro said in a statement. “He has played a variety of roles throughout his career and we felt he was an excellent fit for our staff.”
Baez, who will wear No. 55, will meet with the media this afternoon.
To read our breakdown on Baez, click here.