The Phillies must decide by Monday whether to tender contracts to five arbitration-eligible players: Kyle Kendrick, John Mayberry, Kevin Frandsen, Ben Revere and Antonio Bastardo. Some decisions are harder than others.
Revere and Bastardo are locks to be re-signed or head to arbitration. Frandsen is a non-tender candidate, as his salary figures to increase to about $1.3 million and there are better ways for the Phils to spend that money.
Kendrick and Mayberry are two complex cases. Kendrick's cost could rise to the $7 million mark, and he's not a $7 million pitcher for this team. But the Phillies lack rotation depth behind Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and maybe Miguel A. Gonzalez.
Ruben Amaro Jr. has stated a few times that he plans to tender Kendrick a contract. Of course, if the Phillies find some rotation depth after re-signing him, they could trade Kendrick. The Angels have had longstanding interest.
With Mayberry, Amaro has expressed interest in re-signing him, but it's much less certain than it is with Kendrick. Mayberry is a replaceable part, and at $1.5-2 million he's just not worth it. The Phillies could instead use that money on the more versatile Rajai Davis, or allocate it to a bench piece like Eric Chavez or Mark Reynolds. Davis is a better runner and defender, Reynolds is more of a power threat than Mayberry and Chavez would be an above-average corner infield fallback plan in case Ryan Howard can't stay healthy or Cody Asche falters.
Why not use that Mayberry money on players with actual difference-making bench skills? Mayberry is the kind of player who has value when he's making $500,000, but not as much when his salary is closing in on $2 million.
There are some important dates coming up. The Winter Meetings begin just six days after the tender date and the Phillies still need at least one more starting pitcher and one more reliever. They could really use two of each.