Phillies sign Zach Eflin with mutual option

Phillies sign Zach Eflin with mutual option

ATLANTA — The Phillies and Zach Eflin completed the process of determining the pitcher’s salary for 2022 when they agreed to a one-year contract worth $5.7 million on Tuesday.

The agreement avoided the need for a salary arbitration hearing, which would have taken place on Wednesday. Usually, arbitration cases are heard and decided in January and February, but the winter lockout pushed the schedule back into the season.

Eflin, who earned $4.45 million last season, sought $6.9 million in arbitration and the Phillies countered for $5.15 million. The midpoint between these two numbers is $6.025 million. Eflin may end up getting closer to that as his new contract contains $300,000 in performance bonuses, which could bring his salary up to $6 million.

“I’m happy with what we were able to negotiate,” said the 28-year-old right-hander. “The Phillies have intensified the conversations over the past week and we’ve taken it well.

“I’m excited. I’m glad we got by.”

Had his case been heard, Eflin would have participated remotely. He was curious to find out the process.

“I was looking forward to it, but at the end of the day, I have a job and that’s to go out and throw baseballs. That’s what I’m here to do. I’m happy to focus my attention on that.”

Eflin’s new deal contains an interesting wrinkle – a mutual option worth $15 million for 2023.

Both parties would need to agree to the option in November for it to come into effect.

If the option does not materialize, Eflin would become a free agent and be free to sign with any team, including the Phillies.

“My understanding is that it was raised by the club, which we weren’t opposed to as I made it clear that I wanted to be here long term,” Eflin said. “I think it’s a step in the right direction to start those conversations. I love pitching in Philadelphia. I love the Philadelphia fans. They hold their players accountable, which I really care about.

“We’re going to let the year unfold and see what it can bring us. It’s on the table that we both have to take and we’ll come back to it at the end of the year.

“Right now I’m here to throw baseballs so free agency isn’t even on my mind. I’m focused on throwing and giving the team everything I have. I’m here to be a good person and a good teammate and we’ll see where that takes me.”

President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski was happy to sign Eflin without the help of an arbitration panel.

“Anytime you can avoid a hearing, that’s a good thing,” Dombrowski said. The 2023 option “is positive for us, but even though we don’t agree to exercise the option, we have always expressed that we love Zach and would like to keep him in the organization.”

Eflin isn’t the only Phillies starting pitcher whose contract will need to be settled in the fall. Aaron Nola has a $16 million option that must be exercised to keep him from becoming a free agent. Kyle Gibson should become a free agent. Ditto for Corey Knebel closer.

Eflin has the distinction of being the first trade associated with the rebuilding the Phillies undertook after the 2014 season. He came to the Phillies in December as part of a deal that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers. Former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made the trade.

Reconstruction still hasn’t earned the Phillies a playoff berth, but Eflin has been a solid rotational piece with plenty of upside remaining if he can stay healthy. He underwent surgery on his right knee last September and has been healthy so far in 2022, hitting a 3.65 ERA in seven starts.

Continued success in 2022 will earn him a handsome salary.

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