Looking to beef up a bullpen that ranked 16th in baseball with a 3.74 FIP in 2012, the Phillies have signed set-up man Mike Adams to a two-year deal worth $12 million. Adams, 34, also has a vesting option for the 2015 season worth another $6.5 million if he appears in 120 games over the next few seasons, including at least 60 in 2014. If the reliever makes good on his clauses, the deal could be worth as much as $18.5 million over three seasons.
This is a steep price to pay for any reliever, especially one with the injury history of Adams. Even in the event Philadelphia is not responsible for the third season, $12 million over two years is not exactly a bargain either. As good as Adams has been in seasons past, he’s never managed to crack 2.0 WAR per FanGraphs, and about the best the Phillies can hope for here is that they get an even return on their investment.
To make matters worse, Adams is coming off a 2012 season that raises numerous red flags. His K/9 rate dropped from it’s usual 9.0 range all the way down to 7.7, and his average fastball velocity dipped down to 91.3 — down from 92.7 in 2011 and 93.4 in 2010. As a result, the former Brewer, Padre, and Ranger posted the highest ERA (3.27) of his career since he was a rookie in 2004.
Adams did undergo surgery in October that resulted in the removal of a rib, so it’s always possible his down year was a statistical anomaly, but the odds are never in favor of an injury prone pitcher getting more durable as he creeps closer to his middle-aged years. The Phillies paid a premium price for what they believe to be a premium reliever to use in front of Jonathan Papelbon, but it remains to be seen if Adams still fits that description, and if he’ll still fit it in as late as 2015.