The Philadelphia Phillies have secured their need for a left-handed specialist after signing J.C. Romero, who was let go earlier in the offseason after the Phillies declined a $4.5 million option, to a one-year deal.
With Romero re-joining the club and Cliff Lee on the payroll, the Phillies will now have to manage a tight pocket.
With that said, the Phils may not be able to re-sign free-agent reliever Chad Durbin. The right-hander has spent the past three seasons in Philadelphia after joining the club in 2008. He previously spent time with the Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, and the Kansas City Royals.
Not being able to re-sign Durbin, who maintained a 3.80 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 2010, will hurt the bullpen and will force the Phils to look in-house in for a replacement.
However, there is one way the Phils may be able to bring back Durbin, but it would involve them trading away Joe Blanton and his hefty contract. The likelihood of Blanton being moved before the season starts is very high, but a trade probably won’t be executed until free-agent pitcher Carl Pavano signs. The teams who miss out on Pavano will then turn their attention on working out a deal for Blanton.
Trading Blanton would free up salary space to re-sign Durbin and would give one of the Phillies’ young starters (Kyle Kendrick or Vance Worley) a chance to earn the fifth spot in the Phillies’ rotation.
In my opinion, I would like to see Durbin back in the Phillies’ bullpen. He was one of the few relievers that I didn’t mind seeing come out from the ‘pen, and I believe he still has a few good seasons left in the tank.
He’s also a veteran pitcher, and the Phillies will have a few young guys in the ‘pen who could use the guidance of a veteran such as Durbin.
If Durbin’s days in Philly are over, Eddie Bonine, a knuckleball specialist, could be his replacement in the bullpen.