Phillies offseason: 3 under-the-radar relievers that could push the Phils to the next level

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MLB: APR 08 Marlins at Giants
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – APRIL 08: San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jose Alvarez (48) throws a pitch during the MLB opening day baseball game between the Miami Marlins and the San Francisco Giants on April 8, 2022 at Oracle Park in San Francisco, CA. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire)

The hot stove is heating up! Justin Verlander kicked off Monday afternoon with a two-year contract with the New York Mets. The Phillies’ rivals have replaced Jacob DeGrom with the reigning American League Cy Young award winner and look to make a playoff run once again.

The Phillies have been quiet this offseason, but rumors have been circulating that Phillies are involved in many of the big-name players on the market. While the Phillies should be involved in these negotiations, they also should be aggressive in the low-risk/high-reward game.

On the most recent episode of 11,000 and Counting, co-host Alec Kostival and I discussed some options for the Phillies to improve their bullpen. I believe three more guys can help the Phillies at a low cost.

Three relievers the Phillies should target this offseason

3: Keone Kela – RHP

The Phillies did a fantastic job in 2022 of adding effective relief pitchers for low costs. Guys like Andrew Bellati and Nick Nelson were impactful team members and outshined the guys to whom the Phillies gave a lot of money (Corey Knebel & Jeurys Familia). If the Phillies want to repeat as National League champions, they will need to find that same success in 2023.

Keone Kela would be a perfect under-the-radar signing for the Phillies in 2023. Kela has spent time with the Rangers, Pirates, and Padres but did not pitch in 2022. Kela has spent much of the last few seasons on the Injured List, but when he was healthy, he was a fantastic reliever.

From 2015-2019, Kela pitched 214.1 innings across 228 appearances. He struck out 263 batters and averaged 11 K/9. Keone can return to that form if healthy, and Philly would not have to give him a lot of money. Chances are, they could give him a minor-league deal with a major-league option for the 2023 season.

2: Justin Wilson – LHP

The Phillies need to address their bullpen by adding another lefty. Jose Alvarado can’t be the only lefty in the ‘pen, and finding a low-cost option might be the path the Phils take. Justin Wilson would be the guy I would take a flyer on if I were Dave Dombrowski and the front office. Wilson is a well-traveled veteran in the MLB, pitching in the bigs for over 11 years. He spent the last few years in Cincinnati but missed most of the ’22 season with injuries.

Justin Wilson would mostly be a depth piece and would not be a long-term answer, but if he works out, he could be a valuable piece for the Phillies in 2023. He would be another pitcher that the Phillies could offer a minor league deal with a major league option.

1: Jose Alvarez – LHP

Welcoming home an old friend? Jose Alvarez would be a fantastic addition to the Phillies to add this off-season. Jose spent time with the team from 2019-2020 and was arguably the best reliever they had in those two seasons.

Alvarez headed out West after his time in Philly and spent two more seasons with Gabe Kapler. Jose was once again dominant in 2021, but injuries derailed his 2022 campaign. The veteran lefty fit in really well during his time in a Phillies uniform, and he can return to form with a healthy 2023.

From 2019-2021, Alvarez pitched in 130 innings across 142 games and pitched to a 2.77 earned run average. He does not strike many batters out, but he does record outs at a very efficient rate. The Phillies need to add another lefty in their ‘pen, which would be an upgrade over the Brad Hand role the club used in 2022.

The Phightin’s would have to offer Alvarez a big-league deal. A one-year contract in the 4-6 million dollar range would be appropriate for Jose, and the reunion makes a lot of sense for both parties.

Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire