Ending months of non-drama, the Chad Durbin saga has ended.
The Phillie will join the Indians on a one-year, $800,000 deal plus another $1 million in incentives, reports ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. The deal is pending a physical. Durbin spent parts of 2003-04 with Cleveland back when he was trying to make it as a starter. According to Crasnick, the Indians will put him in the bullpen. The 33-year-old right-hander was reportedly holding out for a guaranteed offer from a contender, which the Indians are not, but if he pitches well, he could work his way into a prominent role and possibly start a game or two. Amazingly, the Phillies resisted the urge to ever start him - even in an emergency - in three seasons. Even more amazingly, the Phillies literati were able to stretch this storyline over a full five months.
Phillies send Morse Code for right-handed bat help: The Phillies have had a long-standing interest in Nationals outfielder Mike Morse, notes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. “The Phillies kept an eye on Morse’s potential availability all winter,” Salisbury writes, “but came away with the impression that the Nationals did not want to do business with a division rival.” Sources told Salisbury that the Phillies balked when Domonic Brown’s name entered the equation.
Morse’s career has been slow to develop, but he kept his head above Triple-A waters for a career-high 98 games with Washington last season, starting 64 games in right while hitting .289/.352/.519 with 15 homers in 293 plate appearances, including a terrific .295/.374/.625 against left-handed pitching, which is at least the second-best reason the Phillies want him (he spent five years fascinating Benny Looper and the Mariners brass while toiling in the Seattle chain, so there’s that).
With Jayson Werth in the Washington fold, Morse, who will turn 29, is looking at a first-base platoon with Adam LaRoche and splitting time in the outfield somewhere, but has no clear spot to flourish into the Werthian late bloomer the Phillies probably think he could become. For what it’s worth, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system forecasts a .277/.341/.458 season with 11 homers over 302 plate appearances. If properly protected, Ben Francisco could do that, but the Phillies obviously have their doubts. Still, the lack of a big right-handed stick is clearly the club’s biggest concern, and Werth was their unrivaled best hitter a season ago.
Game chat: The Phillies open Grapefruit League play today as Cole Hamels takes the mound in Tampa to face the Yankees starting at 1:05. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco are out. Meanwhile, the Beerleaguer non-roster invitee all-stars will host the Blue Jays this morning at Bright House Field. Matt Gelb of the Inquirer posted the classic lineup card here. Tagg Bozied bats cleanup. I have chills.