Today is the final day to exercise contract options across baseball and many veteran relievers will be joining the likes of Brad Lidge as free agents.
Names that are likely to come available today include Francisco Cordero, Dan Wheeler and Jon Rauch. A couple of set-up types have already been declined options, including Francisco Rodriguez, who got a $4 million buyout from the Brewers, and Chad Qualls, who will become a free agent instead of getting $6 million from the Padres. They'll join Lidge, who was declined a $12.5 million option last week.
Rumors are already swirling around Ryan Madson, who finally became the Phillies' full-time closer in 2011. The Phils are considered a strong candidate to retain his services. Even if they do, they could still be in the hunt for a set-up man. Jose Contreras and Antonio Bastardo have saved a combined 17 games and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has suggested that the club's stable of young relievers isn't ready to handle the higher-leverage frames.
In related news, the Yankees have reportedly made a contract offer to CC Sabathia, who has until Monday to decide whether to opt out of his deal. If he does, how much do you want to bet the Phillies get involved? Aramis Ramirez declined his portion of a $16 million mutual option. The 33-year-old third baseman hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers … essentially Hunter Pence production at a position where Placido Polanco limped to a .674 OPS.
The Phils have about $55 million coming off the books, but a mountain of salary escalators and major decisions at closer and shortstop.