The day after former second-round pick Randy Wolf will reportedly sign with the Dodgers, the Phillies are bringing back their No. 1 pick from the year before, right-hander Adam Eaton.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the two sides have settled on a preliminary three-year, $24 million contract with a mutual option fourth year, a package that would reportedly top $33 million. The agreement is contingent on Eaton passing a physical later this week. (Update: The story was also reported by MLB.com)
Seattle was the only other team to put in an offer, but Texas, St. Louis, Colorado and San Diego were all believed to have interest. The story also suggests Phillies GM Pat Gillick made a hard push for Eaton, flying in personally on his 38th wedding anniversary to finalize the deal.
The 29-year-old right-hander was drafted by the Phillies in the first round (11th pick) of the 1996 amateur draft, then was traded to San Diego in 1999 for pitcher Andy Ashby. In seven seasons, he’s 54-45 with a 4.40 ERA with San Diego and Texas. Last season with Texas, he went 7-4, 5.12 ERA in 13 starts after returning from injury. He will round out the starting five with Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jon Lieber and Jamie Moyer.
Beerleaguer: The biggest pitching signing of the Pat Gillick era signifies a change in strategy, as Gillick opens his wallet and turns to free agent Adam Eaton to round out the pitching staff. For the 29-year-old right-hander, his career has unofficially come full-circle.
The ESPN report suggests Eaton will make $6.875 million in 2007, $7.635 million in '08, and $8.5 million in '09. Other particulars include a $1 million signing bonus and a $500,000 buyout of the mutual option for 2010.
There’s reason to be excited. There’s potential for Eaton to be quite good. How good? Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports says the Phils believe he has 20-win potential. There seems to be a general belief that Eaton, still just 29, has yet to hit full stride. Randy Wolf was the only other free agent who could marshal the same feeling.
A look around the rest of the NL East finds a starting staff that stacks up well with the rest of the division. With Eaton on board, probably starting in that fifth spot, the Phillies have a balanced left/right stable and can give opponents different looks. Eaton can put a little mustard on four sound pitches.
The downside is he is no stranger to injury, which may be why so few teams put in an early bid. In July of 2001, he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all but the last few weeks of 2002 – almost the same exact timetable as Wolf, down to the day and month. For the next three seasons, he tried to fill the role of No. 2 starter, but probably came up short of that. He started having trouble with his middle finger halfway through 2005. Last winter, he was traded to Texas along with Akinori Otsuka for Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez and Terrmel Sledge, then missed half of 2006 with the same injury.
He spent most of his career in a pitchers’ park; now he’ll spend the next three working in a bandbox where just about every make and model pitcher gets shelled. Scouts like that he has four good pitches and the stuff to keep the ball on the ground, although his numbers do not support that notion. He's a good fielder, a good athlete and can do something no other Phillies' pitcher can do: hit. He’s a lifetime .191 hitter.
Considering Danys Baez is commanding only a few million less over the same length, Eaton is a pretty fair value and a decent risk, and he won't cost them a precious early draft pick.
Thumbs up to Gillick and the Phils for making Eaton the new No. 5. Watch for the internal ripple effect in coming weeks, as Eaton creates some redundancy for AAA tweeners like Gavin Floyd and Justin Germano.
FOXSports: Dellucci reaches agreement with Tribe
In other news, the Indians have reached an agreement with Phillies free agent David Dellucci on a three-year, $11.5 million contract. The deal is contingent on Dellucci passing a physical. The Phillies will receive a second-round pick from Cleveland.