Phillies sign Contreras to 1-year, $1.5 million deal

It's official: Jose Contreras is a Phillie. The team has agreed to a one-year deal with the 38-year old right-handed pitcher worth $1.5 million.

Contreras will likely figure into the Phillies' bullpen plans, but as manager Charlie Manuel said earlier in the week, Contreras may start some games in spring training to stretch out his arm. But it does not appear he is a contender for the fifth starter's spot.

“Jose is a versatile pitcher who will likely get stretched out in spring training as a starter, but our scouts feel he is best suited for a significant role in the bullpen,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a release. “His competitiveness and durability are pluses and what he showed in his brief stint as a reliever in Colorado gives us reason to believe that he makes our pitching staff stronger.”

If he is to be exclusively a reliever, the Phillies will be asking Contreras to do something he's never done in his career. In 191 major-league appearances, he has started 175 games.

Last season, splitting time with the White Sox and Rockies, Contreras was a combined 6-13 with a 4.92 ERA. He pitched well for Colorado after the trade, going 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in seven appearances -- five as a reliever.

Contreras' salary puts the Phillies' payroll at about $138.052 million for 2010 -- with contracts still needed for Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ and Ben Francisco.

Contreras and Phillies general manager Amaro will meet the media at 1:30 p.m.