The Phillies’ bullpen is now even more expensive, as set-up man extraordinaire Mike Adams has joined the team to step in behind Jonathan Papelbon. Adams agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with his new team, and a third year vests if he appears in 120 games over the next two seasons with at least 60 of those appearances coming in the second year. Adams’ name has appeared in the box score in at least 61 games for each of the past three seasons, so odds are good the 34-year-old could get a third year on his contract.
There haven’t been many relievers better than Adams over the past few seasons. Adams was truly elite in 2010 and 2011, posting seasons with strikeout rates north of one per inning while proving himself virtually unhittable. Both seasons were worth 1.8 WAR per FanGraphs, a particularly lofty total for a reliever. Adams saw his strikeout rate drop to 7.74/9 and his walk rate jump to 2.92/9 last season but was still an excellent option for the Rangers in the late innings of games.
As usual, we don’t endorse lengthy or chunky contracts for relievers. Only the most elite bullpen arms could possibly warrant such a deal, and even then the risk is enormous. Adams is a talented and proven arm, but he’ll be making enough money that he’ll have trouble earning his keep. Add in the fact that Adams will almost certainly get a third year if the Phillies are playing reasonable baseball and have to keep using him, and you have another short-sighted contract handed to a relief pitcher. At least Adams has shown he is a superior option when compared to guys like Brandon League and Jeremy Affeldt who received bigger contracts, so there’s that.