Eflin, Phils avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

May 24th, 2022

ATLANTA -- Right-hander Zach Eflin hopes this is the first step toward a long-term relationship with the Phillies.

The Phils and Eflin on Tuesday agreed to a one-year, $5.7 million contract to avoid salary arbitration. They also agreed to a $15 million mutual option for 2023, which includes a $150,000 buyout and performance bonuses.

It is an intriguing possibility for Eflin, who is eligible to become a free agent following the season.

“I’ve made it pretty clear that I want to be here long term,” Eflin said before Tuesday night’s game against the Braves at Truist Park. “I think that was a step in the right direction to at least start those conversations. I love pitching in Philly. I love the fans in Philly. They hold their players accountable, which I’m really big into. I love everybody that’s in this organization -- the front office, the coaches, the players. My daughter was born in Jersey. There’s a lot of things. I honestly love it in Philly.”

The Phillies picked up negotiations with Eflin’s side last week in an effort to avoid Wednesday’s arbitration hearing. The club offered $5.15 million. Eflin requested $6.9 million.

Philadelphia initiated the idea of the mutual option, too.

Eflin’s side liked it.

“I’m glad we got it out of the way and we don’t have to go to arbitration,” Eflin said. “I was looking forward to it, but at the end of the day, I have one job and that’s to throw baseballs. That’s what I’m here to do, so I’m glad I can focus my attention on that.

“We’ll let the year play out and see what it can bring us. [The option] is on the table for us both to take or for us both to leave. We’ll kind of readdress that at the end of the year, but I’m happy that we were able to come to terms.”

Eflin is 1-3 with a 3.65 ERA in seven starts this season. He has struck out 35 and walked seven in 37 innings. He struck out a career-high 12 batters on Sunday against the Dodgers.

While it is possible both sides exercise the mutual option, Eflin would love the security of a multi-year deal. If he continues to pitch well, he would seem likely to decline his side of the option and enter the free-agent market. The Phillies could still negotiate with him at that point.

Or they could reach an agreement before he hits free agency.

“I would honestly entertain anything,” Eflin said.

“We’ve expressed to them all along that we like Zach and would love to keep him in the organization,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “We talked about the potential [of a multiyear deal], but we just thought right now it was easier to get the one-year deal done during the middle of the season.”