Phillies sign Zach Eflin to contract with mutual option

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

The agreement prevented the need for a hearing on salary arbitration, which was said to have been held on Wednesday. Normally, arbitration cases are heard and decided in January and February, but the winter lockout pushed the schedule back into the season.

Eflin, who made $4.45 million last season, had filed for $6.9 million in arbitration and the Phillies went against it for $5.15 million. The midpoint between those two numbers is $6.025 million. Eflin may come close as his new deal includes a $300,000 performance bonus, which could take his salary to $6 million.

“I’m happy with what we were able to negotiate,” said the 28-year-old right-hander. “The Phillies have been in talks for the past week and we’ve taken that nicely.

‘I’m excited. I’m glad we got it out of the way.”

If his case had gone to a hearing, Eflin would have participated remotely. He was curious to experience the process.

“I was looking forward to it, but in the end I only have one job and that’s baseball. That’s what I have to do here. I’m glad I can focus on that.”

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

Both sides should agree to the option to launch in November.

If the option doesn’t work, Eflin would become a free agent and have the freedom to sign with any team, including the Phillies.

“As far as I know, it’s been brought up by the club, which we weren’t against, because I’ve made it pretty clear that I want to be here for the long haul,” said Eflin. “I think it’s a step in the right direction to start these conversations. I love pitching in Philadelphia. I love the fans in Philadelphia. They hold their players accountable, which I’m very passionate about.

“We’ll let the year play out and see what it can bring us. It’s on the table for us to take and we’ll discuss that again 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 pitching and giving the team everything I have. I’m here to be a good person and a good teammate and we’ll see where it takes me.”

President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski was pleased that Eflin could be signed without the help of an arbitration panel.

“Any time you can avoid a hearing, it’s a good thing,” Dombrowski said. The option for 2023 “is positive for us, but even if we don’t (agreed to exercise the option), we’ve expressed all along that we like Zach and would like to keep him in the organization.”

Eflin isn’t the only Phillies starting pitcher whose contract needs to be addressed in the fall. Aaron Nola has a $16 million option that must be exercised to avoid becoming a free agent. Kyle Gibson is slated to become a free agent. Ditto for closer Corey Knebel.

Eflin has the distinction of being the first transaction related to the rebuilding the Phillies began after the 2014 season. He came to the Phillies in December in a deal that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers. Former General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made the trade.

The rebuild still hasn’t given the Phillies a berth into the postseason, but Eflin has been a solid rotation piece with plenty of residual advantage if he can stay healthy. He had surgery on his right knee last September and was healthy so far in 2022, with a 3.65 ERA from seven starts.

Continued success in 2022 will get him a nice payday.

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