The White Sox on Thursday agreed to a one-year, $3.75 million deal with left-handed reliever Scott Downs. It's a very low-risk move for one of the game's top relievers over the last six seasons, and it's a bit puzzling that the Phillies didn't make a push.
Downs has a 2.33 ERA since 2007, and though he struggled down the stretch with Atlanta in 2013 after being traded to the Braves from the Angels, he still finished the season with a 2.49 ERA.
Over the last six seasons, the 37-year-old Downs has a lower ERA than every single reliever except Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan. He's been worth 5.7 WAR -- the same as Huston Street and Jim Johnson and a notch below Joaquin Benoit.
And all Downs found was one-year, $3.75 million with a $4.25 million vesting option for 2015.
Topping the White Sox' offer would have been a good way for the Phillies to improve the bullpen. As it stands, the opening day 'pen figures to include Jonathan Papelbon, Brad Lincoln, Jake Diekman and Antonio Bastardo, with B.J. Rosenberg, Justin De Fratus, Ethan Martin, Joe Savery and Rule 5 pick Kevin Munson battling for the final three jobs.
There was certainly one spot to carve out for Downs, especially with the Phils not knowing what a post-PED Bastardo will look like.
Ruben Amaro Jr. has given out exclusively short-term deals this offseason, so it's strange that more of a push wasn't made for Downs. Had his AAV been the same amount over three years, then it would be understandable to pass. But this was a chance to efficiently boost the bullpen and push yourself a little closer to contention, and it sure feels like a missed opportunity.