The Phillies have signed reliever Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million contract, with a third-year vesting option at preusmably the same annual rate.
Adams underwent surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in October — a literal rib-removal procedure — but expects to be ready for opening day. He has had his fair share of health issues over the years but is still very much worth the risk at $12 million over two guaranteed years. As with most vesting contracts, its design will likely mean that Adams is very much worth that extra year and $6 million if the option is triggered.
Adams, from 2008-11, was an elite major league reliever. He had videogame numbers in that span. He made 237 appearances in a setup capacity and posted the following numbers: 1.71 ERA, .235 BABIP, 2.52 SIERA, 28.3% K-rate, 6.8% BB-rate, 0.90 WHIP.
He had a K/BB ratio over 4.0, an above average groundball rate, and what looked like a legitimate skill at inducing weak contact and keeping runs off the board.
The Padres had Trevor Hoffman and Heath Bell closing games out in San Diego, while the Rangers went with Neftali Feliz, but Adams was better than all of them in this span.
Last season, Adams saw his strikeout and walk rates decline, while injuries slightly limited his action. He threw 52.1 innings and had very good numbers but it was his worst season since becoming the Adams we know and love with the 2008 Padres.
That isn’t to say he will continue to decline, or that he has lost that Mike Adams mojo, but rather that it’s important to remember that the Phillies signed the age 34-36 Adams and not the younger, peak version.
However, what makes this move a great one, is that the Phillies didn’t pay Adams current dollars for past performance.
They didn’t sign him to the eight-figure annual salary his peak numbers likely merited. They didn’t even guarantee three years as an enticement to accept a lower annual value. Unless doctors accidentally removed his entire ribcage, or every other team has access to detailed medical data the Phillies don’t, it’s hard to find a reason to dislike this move. Even the watered-down version of Adams that pitched for the Rangers last season was worth $6 million, $ per WAR be damned, since I’m not really a fan of using WAR for relievers.
The Phillies may have missed out on some big-time talent this offseason, but signing Adams to this reasonable contract was a very subtle way of improving the team in a more pronounced manner. The Phillies bullpen pitched very well after the all-star break last season, as some pitchers regressed (in the good direction) while others succeeded after being given a chance to replace dead weight. Adding Adams to that mix is exciting.