Does Free Agency Still Hold the Phillies’ Ideal Reliever For 2024?

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Philadelphia Phillies baseball team President of Baseball Operations David Dombrowski takes questions from the media after signing Aaron Nola to a new seven-year contract, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Oh, hey, it seems like it’s February already. Let’s look at the players signed by the Phillies this offseason.

Aaron Nola re-signed on November 19th, a great start to the offseason. Bringing back your homegrown All-Star felt like a no-brainer for the Phillies and, at $24.5 million a year, seemed like a hometown deal.

After locking down a top-of-the-rotation starter, certainly, the Phillies signed some bullpen help. Right?

Right…?

Kolby Allard? Carreer 6.10 ERA Kolby Allard? Not ideal.

Phillies Aaron Nola
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola leaves the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning in Game 6 of the baseball NL Championship Series in Philadelphia Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Is There an Ideal Reliever Left for the Phillies?

The short answer is most likely no. That’s only because ideal relievers are few and far between. Ideally, the Phillies could find a reliever to replace Craig Kimbrel. Realistically, they only need a player to slide into Orion Kerkering’s role.

Are there some names out there that still make sense for the Phillies? Yes.

There are two that stick out as players the Phillies would target. This is keeping in mind that the Phillies are about $8 million away from the second luxury tax threshold.

Ryan Brasier

Some of you might be unaware of Ryan Brasier, and that’s perfectly ok. He made his major league debut in 2013 and is now 36 years old. Don’t let that age fool you, as he’s coming off the best season of his career.

After a dismal start to the season, Brasier was released by the Red Sox. That turned out to be his saving grace as the Dodgers picked him up and turned him into an elite setup man. In 38.2 IP, he allowed only 3 ER while striking out 38. His 35.1% hard-hit rate was his lowest since 2021 when he had a 1.50 ERA.

Even at 36, he still features an above-average velocity fastball. His slider had an opposing batting average of .120 in 2023 and .170 in 2022. He’s never made more than $2 million annually in his career and could be a cheap addition to the Phillies.

Jakob Junis

Jakob Junis has been the Giants’ version of Matt Strahm over the past two seasons. He’s appeared in 63 games, starting 21 of them. Junis had the best season of his career in 2023. His 3.87 ERA was the lowest of his career, while his 10.0 K/9 was the highest. He wasn’t lucky either, as his .338 BAbip was the highest since 2020. Some good luck could propel Junis to a new level in 2024.

Getting him out of San Francisco might help as well. He was much more effective on the road than at home in 2022. At home, he had a 4.62 ERA, and away, he had a 3.31 ERA.

He should also fit comfortably into the Phillies’ budget while also providing some starting depth.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)