Phillies

Phillies still need a lot of bullpen help and here are 15 relievers who could fit

Phillies

If you were to put together a depth chart of the Phillies' bullpen a few days before Christmas, three to five spots would be up for grabs, potentially more based on health.

Corey Knebel, signed on December 1 to a one-year contract worth $10 million, looks like he will be the closer. 

Left-hander Jose Alvarado, barring injury or a series of spring training meltdowns, looks like he will again serve a late-inning role. 

Connor Brogdon, a 27-year-old homegrown reliever with a solid fastball-changeup combination, will be in the mix as well. He had a 3.43 ERA in 56 appearances last season and could step into a bigger role in 2022. He's making the minimum, which is important for a Phillies team that will be close to the luxury tax.

The Phillies cannot, however, go into 2022 counting on any of Alvarado, Brogdon, Sam Coonrod or a returning Seranthony Dominguez to be their primary setup man. They all have the arm talent to seize that sort of role, but we've all seen what's happened with the Phillies' bullpen when they've entered seasons needing a slew of things to break right. This can't be a repeat of 2020 or 2021 in that regard.

Others will be in the picture as well -- Bailey Falter, Cam Bedrosian, waiver-claims Yoan Lopez and Ryan Sherriff, the recently acquired Nick Nelson.

Let's look at 15 relievers who will still be out there when MLB's lockout ends. We'll take deeper dives into several of these players in the coming days.

Kenley Jansen (34)

 

Unlikely based on the expected price tag, the Phillies' starting needs in left field and center field, and the fact that they may already have their closer in Knebel.

Still really good, though. In 2021, he had his lowest ERA in five years (2.22) and the lowest home run rate of his career (0.52 per nine innings).

Raisel Iglesias got $58 million over four years from the Angels. He is two years younger but the AAV for Jansen should be similar, whether he gets two, three or four years himself. Four would seem unlikely but he's the best free-agent reliever left.

Mychal Givens (32)

The Phillies have pursued Givens, who is probably eye-balling deals in the range of Daniel Hudson's one-year, $7 million contract with the Dodgers and Hector Neris' two-year, $17 million pact with the Astros.

He had a 3.35 ERA in 51 innings last season, though his strikeout rate has plummeted from 33.1% in 2019 to 25.0% in 2021, a difference of about one K every three innings.

Ryan Tepera (34)

Took off in Chicago last season with career-bests in ERA (2.79), WHIP (0.88) and opponents' batting average (.164). He was much more effective with the White Sox than Craig Kimbrel, who was also dealt from the crosstown Cubs in 2021.

Tepera is a great example of the importance of identifying an undervalued free agent at baseball's most volatile position. He made $800,000 in 2021, signing in March. Few relievers went on to have a better year.

LHP Andrew Chafin (32)

Previously a solid but unspectacular reliever, Chafin was awesome in 2021 with a 1.83 ERA in 71 appearances. Only 12 of the 266 batters he faced recorded an extra-base hit, and his opponents had a .248 on-base percentage.

Like Tepera, Chafin is going to parlay his 2021 success into by far the largest salary of his career. 

Richard Rodriguez (32)

It was interesting that the Braves non-tendered Rodriguez after acquiring him from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline. Despite a strong 2.94 ERA for the season, his strikeout rate slipped dramatically and it coincided with MLB's crackdown on foreign substances. Rodriguez struck out just nine batters in 26 innings with Atlanta and 5.9 per nine innings for the year.

He missed so few bats that the Braves left him off their postseason roster.

LHP Brad Hand (32)

Another former closer who declined during the 2021 season. Hand went from the Nationals to the Blue Jays to the Mets, finally recapturing success late in the year in New York after an ugly 11-game stint with Toronto.

He made $10.5 million in 2021 but won't come close to that in 2022 and could be a potential bargain. After a one-year dip in velocity in 2020, Hand's fastball was almost 2 mph harder in 2021 at 93.2.

LHP Andrew Miller (37)

No longer the dominant reliever he was with the Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees and Indians. Miller had a 4.75 ERA last season, his highest since becoming a full-time reliever in 2012. He also had a dramatic drop-off in velocity and one of the lowest fastball spin rates in all of baseball. 

 

Someone will still take a chance on a one-year deal, given the left-handedness and what the best version of Miller looks like. He did pitch well in 16 appearances in 2020.

Ian Kennedy (37)

Kennedy was just OK with the Phillies after coming over from Texas with Kyle Gibson at the trade deadline. There were a few tight spots he squeezed out of, but in totality, he was far too homer-prone. That said, why not see if he's willing to take a one-year deal to come back as a seventh-inning guy? It wouldn't be costly and you could do worse.

Alex Colome (33)

Longtime closer with 155 career saves in the Kennedy mold of doing it with command rather than premium stuff. Colome had a 4.15 ERA with the Twins in 2021, the highest of his career. He also had a 1.40 WHIP. Like Kennedy, he could be looking at a one-year deal in the $3 million range.

Joe Kelly (34)

So much experience in big games. Kelly has pitched in the playoffs in eight of the last 10 years. The velocity is still there -- his heater averaged 97.7 mph in 2021.

Kelly's last contract was for $25 million over three years. He won't get another one of those, but he might get two years because of the consistent velo and postseason pedigree.

Adam Ottavino (36)

On any given pitch, Ottavino can throw one of the nastiest sliders you've ever seen, but he can also hang them and has been disappointing two seasons in a row, posting a combined 4.59 ERA and 1.48 WHIP with the Yankees and Red Sox.

He's made $34 million over the last four seasons but could be looking at one year with an option this time around.

Robert Gsellman (28)

Non-tendered by the Mets as his salary was set to increase through arbitration from last year's $1.3 million. The Phillies have seen first-hand the versatility Gsellman provides as a multi-inning reliever who can also pitch late in games.

He's been better against the Phils (2.85 ERA in 47 innings) than against any other team so they may value him a bit more than clubs outside the NL East.

A torn lat muscle limited Gsellman to just 17 appearances in 2021, though he made it back for the final two games of the season.

Ricky Bo loooooooves saying his last name, fwiw.

Dellin Betances (34)

Always on lists like these because of his dominant five-year stretch with the Yankees from 2014-18 in which he had a 2.22 ERA and 14.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

He's going to be four years removed from his last full season, though. Betances made one appearance in 2019, 15 in 2020 and one in 2021 before ultimately needing shoulder surgery.

The Mets were the team to take a chance on Betances two offseasons ago and ended up paying him $13.5 million for almost no production.

Given the uncertainty coming back from surgery, could he be a candidate for a minor-league deal?

Jeurys Familia (32)

He's spent his entire 10-year career with the Mets, save for 30 appearances with the A's after the 2018 trade deadline. He's never been able to prevent runs to the level his stuff would suggest, but he does still throw 97-98 mph and will continue to find work.

 

The Phillies' bullpen has so few trustworthy options right now that someone like Familia or Kelly would arguably be their second-best reliever.

LHP Sean Doolittle (35)

Trending way down the last three seasons and no longer a guy you'd be signing to pitch at the end of games, but he still limits lefties. He's retired about 75% of the left-handed hitters he's faced since 2019 and they've hit between .214 and .222 each year. Made $1.5 million with the Reds last season.

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