On the 42d day of an uncharacteristically quiet Phillies offseason, the team finally spent money in the form of a two-year agreement with reliever Mike Adams, a source confirmed.
Adams, one of the game's dominant setup men, will sign a two-year, $12 million deal, pending a physical. The deal reportedly contains a vesting option for a third season. The agreement was originally reported by KRISTV in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The Phillies craved stability in the eighth inning. They lost 12 games, the most in the majors, when holding a lead entering the eighth inning. Adams, 34, could be that presence, provided he is healthy. The righty underwent October surgery to remove a rib that caused Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a numbing sensation in his fingers.
He is expected to be ready for spring training.
The ailment clearly affected him at the end of the season, when he surrendered three home runs in the span of five batters during his final appearance. He had permitted only one home run in his previous 52 2/3 innings.
Adams posted a 3.27 ERA with 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2012, his worst full season since a rookie 2004 campaign. But only Craig Kimbrel, Eric O'Flaherty, Sergio Romo and Mariano Rivera have lower ERAs among relief pitchers since 2010. Adams (2.06 ERA) has thrown more innings than any of them during that span.
The lone red flag is Adams' declining fastball velocity. It averaged 93.4 m.p.h. in 2010, 92.7 m.p.h. in 2011 and 91.3 m.p.h. in 2012, according to Pitch F/X data. Adams' main secondary pitch is a slider, with an occasional curveball.
The third-year option vests under two conditions, according to ESPN.com. Adams must make 120 appearances from 2013-14 and at least 60 in 2014. He has pitched in at least 61 games in each of the last three seasons.
Beyond Adams and closer Jonathan Papelbon, the rest of the bullpen will be filled by younger arms. The Phillies can choose among a strong pack of Antonio Bastardo, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst, Justin De Fratus, Mike Stutes, Jake Diekman, Raul Valdes and B.J. Rosenberg.
Adams is the fourth reliever signed by GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to a multi-year deal. The others were Danys Baez, Jose Contreras and Papelbon. Amaro attempted to acquire Adams at the trade deadline in 2011 only for Texas to offer a better package in a deal with San Diego.
With Adams' addition, the Phillies have approximately $14 million in salary (AAV) to spend for the 2013 payroll. Some of that will be needed for a fifth starter, but outfield remains the most pressing need.