Blanton, Victorino enjoy added security

Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton now know that they'll be very rich men for the next three years. Both avoided arbitration hearings, not with one-year deals, but with shiny, new three-year deals and lots of money. Carlos Ruiz figures to be next in line.

After Joe Blanton submitted an arbitration request of about $3 million more than what the Phillies were looking to give him, it appeared that the two sides were far apart on his value. Sure enough though, the two sides were able to cut their differences down pretty quickly and reach an agreement on a three-year, $24 million deal, which buys out one year of arbitration and two of free agency from the 29 year old right-hander.

Then, shortly after that deal was announced, Shane Victorino received his security blanket from the Phillies in the form of a three-year, $22 million deal.

Next up is likely to be Carlos Ruiz, who is also eligible for arbitration, although isn't far apart in figures with the Phillies for a new deal. Like Blanton and Victorino, the Phillies are interested in getting a longer term extension done with Ruiz to keep him in Philly.

Of the three deals, Blanton's is the most surprising. Not only were the two sides far apart on their arbitration figures, but word had been out there that the Phillies were seeking to deal Blanton at various times during the winter.

Blanton was the Phillies most consistent pitcher throughout the 2009 season and has gone 16-8 in 44 starts with the Phillies since coming over from Oakland in a trade during the 2008 season.

Victorino has been a fan favorite since joining the Phillies in 2005. After joining the club as a Rule 5 Draft pick, Victorino could have been reclaimed by the Los Angeles Dodgers when the Phillies sent him to the minors in 2005. Instead, the Dodgers passed and he stayed in the Phillies organization to become known as "The Flyin' Hawaiian" and take over as the everyday center fielder.

Carlos Ruiz has become known for his defense and his ability to work with pitchers. The Phillies are looking to lock him up long-term and avoid an arbitration hearing with him.
Last season, Victorino led the league in triples with 13 and in his four-plus seasons with the Phillies has hit .289 and scored 102 runs in each of the past two seasons.

Ruiz has become known for his ability to work with pitchers on the Phillies staff much more than he's known for his offense. However, in the post-season, Ruiz has had a way of turning on his bat. In the post-season, Ruiz has hit .303, including hitting .353 in the World Series over the past two years.

The Phillies do have young pitchers and outfielders coming along, who could have potentially replaced Blanton and Victorino, but do not have anyone close to being able to replace Ruiz in the system right now. If for no other reason than that, a long-term deal for Ruiz figures to be a good move for the Phillies. Sources predict that a deal with Ruiz will be done before the end of next week and could potentially be done much quicker than that.

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