The Philadelphia Phillies and right-hander Zach Eflin reached an agreement on Tuesday on a one-year deal that will enable them to avoid an arbitration hearing. The pact is for $5.7 million in 2022 and includes a mutual option worth $15 million for next season, according to USA Today. This makes Eflin the second impending free agent to sign a deal with such a structure in the last few days. (New York Mets righty Chris Bassitt inked a similar contract on Saturday.)
Eflin, 28 years old, has spent the entirety of his big-league career with the Phillies. He was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2012, yet was later shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a 2014 trade that included Yasmani Grandal and Matt Kemp. Eflin wasn’t long for the Dodgers, however, as Los Angeles then traded him (and another) to the Phillies for Jimmy Rollins.
Eflin has since developed into an above-average starting pitcher. In seven outings this season, he’s amassed a 3.65 ERA (108 ERA+) and a 5.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 37 innings. Dating back to 2020, he’s sporting a 4.02 ERA (104 ERA+) and a 5.37 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 201 innings.
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A mutual option is a contractual clause that necessitates both player and club exercise their sides. In that sense, it differs from the more commonplace player or club options. (The other kind of contractual option, the vesting type, is often tied to how many innings or plate appearances a player accumulates.) By agreeing to this deal, Eflin is essentially gaining security — in case of an injury or extended poor performance — without giving away his opportunity to test the open market should he continue to pitch well.
If Eflin and Bassitt do hit free agency, they’ll join a starting pitcher class that’s scheduled to include Nathan Eovaldi, Clayton Kershaw, Joe Musgrove, and Sean Manaea, among others. Jacob deGrom, who has yet to make his season debut because of injury, has also said he intends to opt out of his contract at the end of the season.