The Phillies can check another item off their Christmas list after they agreed to a two-year, $12-million deal with reliever Mike Adams. The deal reportedly has a vesting option for a third season that takes effect if Adams appears in 120 games the next two seasons.
Adams, who has been one of the best setup men in baseball for the last few years, gets GM Ruben Amaro Jr. one step closer to checking the biggest needs off his off-season wish list, as the veteran will round out the back end of the bullpen.
After cutting his teeth with the San Diego Padres, Adams was traded to the Texas Rangers during the 2011 season, where he served as the team's eighth-inning man. Since 2008, the 34-year-old righty has a 1.98 ERA and 311 strikeouts in 295 innings of work. In 2012, he had a 3.27 ERA with a 7.7 K/9 in 52 innings of work.
Adams be the bridge between the middle innings and closer Jonathan Papelbon. After a revolving door bullpen last season, the Phillies can breath a sigh of relief with Adams handling the crucial eighth inning.
This move addresses the lack of a reliable setup man in the bullpen, which was one of the team's most pressing needs in 2012. With Adams now the go-to guy in the eighth inning, Charlie Manuel can let the younger relievers, such as Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman, and Antonio Bastardo get their work in during the middle innings.
The bullpen was a huge concern for Amaro, and from the get-go, he was looking for ways to improve it, starting with the near-acquisition of Wilton Lopez from the Houston Astros. While Adams isn't the dominating pitcher he was, say, four years ago, he should still provide quality innings over the next two seasons.
Ultimately, this move turns one of the Phillies' biggest weaknesses into a strength. They blew way too many leads in the late innings last season thanks to inadequate relief pitching near the end of games. Thanks to Adams, Papelbon, and the young relief corp that precedes them, that should not be an issue next season.