The Phillies provided an early answer to one question heading into Wednesday night’s deadline for offering 2021 contracts to players who are eligible for salary arbitration. They not only offered Seranthony Dominguez a contract, they signed him.
The hard-throwing right-handed reliever signed a one-year deal worth $727,500 on Tuesday, according to a source who confirmed a report by MLB.com.
Dominguez, 26, has not thrown a pitch in the majors since June 5, 2019, and it’s highly unlikely that he will do so in 2021 as he recovers from elbow reconstruction (Tommy John) surgery performed in July.
With Dominguez likely sidelined for all of next season, there had been speculation that the Phillies would seek financial savings and let him go. Instead, they are betting on him recovering and being a bullpen contributor in 2022. Dominguez will receive a full year of service time in 2021 and head into next winter with nearly four years of big-league service time despite pitching just 82 2/3 innings in the majors.
The Phillies signed Dominguez out of his native Dominican Republic for just $25,000 in October 2011. He arrived in the majors with a flourish in May 2018 and recorded a 2.95 ERA with a 0.93 WHIP in 53 games that season. He struck out 11.5 batters per nine innings.
Dominguez was not the same pitcher in 2019 as he was the previous year. He was shut down after 27 appearances and tried to remedy his elbow with rest and rehabilitation only to suffer a setback in spring training 2020. COVID-19 protocols prevented him from having surgery until July.
With Dominguez off the board, the Phillies have six remaining players who are eligible for salary arbitration — pitchers Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, David Hale and Hector Neris, first baseman Rhys Hoskins and catcher Andrew Knapp.
Velasquez and Hale are the only question marks in terms of being tendered.
Hale is in his first year of arbitration. He provides bullpen depth on a team that needs it and won’t break the bank if the Phils decide to retain him.
Velasquez is a more noteworthy non-tender candidate. After five inconsistent seasons and in line to make as much as $4 million in 2021, he may end up as a budget cut as the Phils seek less expensive and potentially more consistent starting pitching depth. At 28, the power-armed Velasquez will have plenty of suitors if the Phils cut him loose.
The deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players is 8 p.m. Wednesday.