PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 11: Nate Schierholtz #22 of the Philadelphia Phillies bats during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on August 11, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cardinals won 4-1. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Some personnel news from Ruben Amaro's off-season fortress, as the Phillies declined to offer outfielder Nate Schierholtz a contract, making the 28-year-old a free agent.
Schierholtz was acquired from the San Francisco Giants earlier this year as part of the trade that sent right-fielder Hunter Pence out west, and proved himself to be a useful commodity in two months with the Phillies, where he had a line of .273/.319/.379 with a homer and four doubles in 37 games split between center and right field. For his career, the lefty-hitting Schierholtz has a .727 OPS with 24 homers in 540 games.
It's an interesting move by the Phillies, to be sure. Nate doesn't have the bat to be a starting outfielder (at least, not on the Phillies), but he'd make a fine addition to the bench, as he hits well enough and plays superb defense in the outfield. And with their outfield situation being what it is, having a guy like Schierholtz around as an extra man is a nice luxury to have, given the amount of depth they currently have out there.
To boot, he earned all of $1.3MM in 2012, and figured to earn in the neighborhood of $1.5MM through arbitration in 2013. It's not a ton of money for a player with him, at all, and this move would seem to indicate that Amaro either has very little room to maneuver, payroll-wise, or that there is something else going on behind the scenes as far as outfield personnel is concerned. With Schierholtz not in the mix for 2013, it is incumbent upon Amaro to acquire another outfielder, as the outfield currently consists of John Mayberry, Domonic Brown, Laynce Nix, and Darin Ruf.
Although he wasn't going to be more than a platoon player, it would have been nice to see what Schierholtz was capable of in a ballpark that was far more favorable to left-handed hitters. Playing in the not-so-hitter-friendly AT&T Park for most of his career has certainly robbed him of some power, as evidenced by his home (.709) and road (.744) splits over his career, and it would be very interesting to see how he fares over the course of a full season at Citizens Bank Park.
It is possible that he could return to the Phillies at a lower annual amount, but it seems unlikely at this point, as the team is going to focus on acquiring a full time center fielder, such as Angel Pagan or Michael Bourn.