PHILADELPHIA -- A day after opening discussions for free-agent prize Alfonso Soriano, the Phillies officially announced their new most-of-the-time third baseman.
Wes Helms, 31, agreed to a two-year deal with the Phillies, believed to be worth $5.5 million over two seasons. It includes an option for a third year that could bring the total value to roughly $8 million.
A former top prospect with the Braves, Helms batted .329 in 240 at-bats with the Marlins last season, belting 10 homers and collecting 47 RBIs in 140 games. The Phillies were interested in Helms last winter, but he ended up signing an $800,000 contract with the Marlins. There, he appeared in 88 games at first base and 24 at third in 2006. He was primarily a third baseman with Milwaukee from 2003-05, compiling a career-high 23 homers and 67 RBIs in 2003.
General manager Pat Gillick, who said before the GM meetings that he wanted to add depth at third base, made sure he obtained Helms this time. He made a personal recruiting trip to Helms' home in Alabama and promised him significant playing time. Manager Charlie Manuel also visited Helms this week.
With Helms on the team, defensive standout Abraham Nunez returns to a utility role, spelling Helms, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley around the infield. Helms can also back up Ryan Howard at first base.