The Phillies have made great strides to fix their bullpen this offseason. From signing Archie Bradley to making trades for the hard-throwing duo of Jose Alvarado and Sam Coonrod, there will be a different look to the group in 2021. Dabble in the influence of new pitching coach Caleb Cotham, and there is a recipe for change.
While a complete turnaround for the bullpen was utterly unrealistic, there is still ample time to make additional moves The market for relievers has been (like the rest of Major League Baseball) slow this offseason. Only a week ago did the free agent marketplace begin to pick up steam when Liam Hendriks signed with the White Sox. Since the Phillies plucked Bradley off the market, Kirby Yates has also signed with the Blue Jays. Every penny Toronto spends on Yates, however, is one they cannot spend on J.T. Realmuto, so Phillies fans should applaud the Yates deal.
Looking beyond Yates, there are several bullpen candidates the Phillies could bring in. Today, we’re going to look at four options that won’t break the bank, leaving money to sign J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius.
Four Reliever Options for the Phillies
Next to Yates, Brad Hand is the biggest name remaining on the free agent marketplace. Hand was erroneously reported to have signed with the Mets last week, though the Mets maintain interest in the 30-year-old. Hand began his career with the Marlins in 2011 before being claimed by the Padres before the 2016 season. He was then traded to Cleveland in 2018, where he has played the last two full seasons.
In 2020, Hand pitched for an MLB-leading 16 saves. He did so in 22 innings of 2.05 ERA ball and 29 strikeouts to his name. Interestingly enough, he also did not allow a single home run all season. When Hand was waived by the Indians earlier this offseason, not a single team picked up his $10 million contract. If the Phillies offered hand a one-year, $10 million deal, he just might take it.
If the Phillies could only sign one more pitcher this offseason, they should sign Brad Peacock.
The 32-year-old pitcher is coming off of arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, which interfered with his 2020 season, but he is the pitcher’s version of a swiss army knife. Whether used as a starting pitcher or a reliever, he has proven to be effective. With a 4.08 ERA as a starter and a 3.89 ERA as a reliever, he has done just about everything in the game. Given the Phillies’ needs on a limited budget, Peacock should be signed yesterday.
Bringing back the 100 MPH man would be a good move for the Phillies, though likely not the 2021 season. Giles underwent Tommy John Surgery in September, effectively finishing his 2021 season. However, given that the Phillies only signed Bradley to a one-year deal, they could line Giles up as the team’s next closer in 2022.
Giles pitched for a terrific 1.87 ERA in 2019 with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2020, he only pitched 3.2 innings as he battled injury, making his 9.82 ERA effectively meaningless. Given Giles’ history with the Phillies and his still elite fastball speed, Giles would make for a great layaway purchase for down the line.
After the success Alvarez had in the 2020 season, the Phillies should have re-signed Alvarez instantly. Alvarez was pitching for a 1.42 ERA in eight appearances before an untimely line-drive to the groin ended his season.
The reliever has pitched for a 3.17 ERA since coming to Philadelphia in 2019. The Phillies could likely land him on a two-year, $6-$8 million deal, solidifying a proven piece in the pen.
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