Millwood, Plesac Get Arbitration Offers From Phils

Sunday night's deadline to offer arbitration to free agents saw the Phillies offer arbitration to Kevin Millwood and Dan Plesac, but decline arbitration to their other free agents, including reliever Terry Adams. Millwood now has until December 19th to accept or decline the Phillies offer of arbitration. If he accepts, he is automatically a Phillie, but if he declines, the Phillies still have until January 8th to negotiate with the right-hander.

Offering Kevin Millwood arbitration doesn't guarantee that he will return to the Phillies. The only guarantee that it gives is that the Phillies will receive draft pick compensation if Millwood signs anywhere other than Philadelphia.

It's thought that the two sides are far apart in their negotiations and the Phillies pulled their last offer to Millwood last week after they acquired Eric Milton. Even if Millwood declines to go to arbitration with the Phillies, the two sides can negotiate until January 8th on a new contract for the 2004 season. Millwood's agent, Scott Boras used Atlanta's offer of arbitration to Greg Maddux last season, rather than have Maddux sign long-term elsewhere. It was that move that made Millwood available to the Phillies in a trade for catcher Johnny Estrada, since Atlanta had to cut some salary room to fit Maddux into their budget.

The Phillies on Sunday also re-signed backup catcher Todd Pratt, who was a free agent. Pratt received a one-year contract with the Phillies. They also offered arbitration to left-handed reliever Dan Plesac. It's thought that the Phillies and Plesac are close to agreeing on a one-year contract to keep Plesac with the Phillies for what would likely be the final season of his career. Plesac has said that he won't sign anywhere other than Philadelphia and is still considering retirement as an option.

Perhaps because of cost concerns, the Phillies did not offer arbitration to any of their other free agents. The surprising move there was that reliever Terry Adams did not receive an arbitration offer. Adams was part of the Phillies bullpen last season and was more than solid in a setup role. The Phillies are still looking for a right-handed setup man and it was thought that they would offer arbitration to Adams as a move to fill that spot. The Phillies now can not negotiate with Adams until May 1st and will not receive any compensation if he signs elsewhere.

If Millwood accepts arbitration, the Phillies payroll may be pushed to the absolute limit, if not beyond. It was thought that the trade for Milton and the need to rework their bullpen would take them to the limit on their payroll. General manager Ed Wade did not comment on whether the Phillies could afford to add to their bullpen and pay Millwood if he were to accept arbitrtaion, without having to trade any players with sizeable contracts.

The others who did not receive arbitration offers are relievers Turk Wendell, Jose Mesa, Mike Williams and catcher Kelly Stinnett.

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories