Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer has reported the Phillies are close to making a deal that would send outfielder Jason Michaels to Cleveland for veteran reliever Arthur Rhodes.
Sources say the deal is contingent on the Indians completing a trade that would send outfielder Coco Crisp to the Boston Red Sox for reliever Guillermo Mota and infielder Andy Marte.
This story was first reported a few days ago by the Boston Herald, and in that report, the Phillies were looking at either the left-hander Rhodes, 36, or right-hander Rafael Betancourt, 30. Rhodes is the more expensive of the two, with one year remaining on a $3.7 million contract. He went 3-1 last season with a 2.08 ERA, missing some time with knee problems.
While Betancourt appeared to be the more attractive option, this deal still pleases me because it addresses the single biggest, most realistically attainable roster hole, and that was setup man. The residual effect is it allows a young pitcher, Ryan Madson, to enter camp with a wide open shot at making the starting rotation.
It’s tough to imagine just how important this move will be for the Phillies sitting here in January. Decimated by free agency, the Phillies have essentially replaced the troika - Billy Wagner, Ugueth Urbina and Ryan Madson - with Gordon, Rhodes and Julio Santana or Aaron Fultz, while inserting a young pitcher into the rotation. Teams could do much worse than that, considering the rest of the bullpen has some upside.
While Rhodes is almost as long of tooth as our 38-year-old closer, Rhodes will throw a lot of unfamiliarity at National League hitters. This will be his first season in the NL.
This addition will create a massive domino effect through spring training. The Phillies will be looking at close to a dozen pitchers with varying experience to fill out bottom of the bullpen. I'd wager a guess that this signing isn’t good news for Rheal Cormier. It will be interesting to see where some of the young pitchers wind up as well, including Eude Brito, Robinson Tejeda and Yoel Hernandez. The non-roster invitees, such as Travis Minix and Brian Sanches, remain long-shots.
Rhodes will be reuniting with his old boss, Pat Gillick, for a third time. Gillick saw time as general manager in Baltimore, Seattle and now the Phillies (that must be a record).
The Phillies will benefit from having some options, and I like that Gillick has essembled these choices not just through spending. Gordon, and now Rhodes, are moves Gillick had to make.
With this deal, I strongly believe the pieces are now in place as the opening day roster is now beginning to take shape, with Madson in the rotation, Rhodes in the bullpen and Bobby Abreu, the subject of many rumors, back in right field.
Update: Brian Peoples has more details on the Michaels to Cleveland situation this morning at the Philling Station, including word that the deal could actually be for Guillermo Mota or David Riske. Check it out here.