Pretty soon, the Phillies might be able to put together an entire 26-man roster of minor-league signings.
The Phils announced four more transactions Wednesday: minor-league deals for right-handed relievers Anthony Swarzak and Blake Parker, as well as utility infielder Logan Forsythe.
They also claimed right-handed reliever Deolis Guerra off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers and designated J.D. Hammer for assignment.
Hammer, 25, debuted with the Phils last summer. He wasn't projected to crack the bigs in 2019 but pitched well enough at Double A and the Phillies were crushed by bullpen injuries, expediting his call-up. When Hammer was sent back to Triple A in late-July, the results were disastrous. He allowed 22 earned runs and 35 baserunners in 13⅔ innings.
Things could still click eventually for Hammer, who could remain in the organization if he clears waivers.
Swarzak was not good in 2019. He had a 4.56 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP and was taken deep 12 times in 53 innings. His best year was 2017, when he pitched to a 2.33 ERA in 70 appearances split between the White Sox and Brewers. He has 17 more strikeouts than innings pitched the last three seasons.
As with the non-guaranteed signings of Francisco Liriano, Bud Norris and Drew Storen, the Phillies are hoping things fall into place for Swarzak for six months. We all know about the volatility of relievers. The percentage of non-elite relievers who sustain success from year to year is not high. The Phillies experienced it with two expensive relievers in the last three seasons in Tommy Hunter and David Robertson.
Parker fit the label of "worth a flier" last summer when the Phillies claimed him off waivers from the Twins. At points in his career, Parker has been an effective late-inning reliever. He had a 2.90 ERA with 22 saves in 2017 and 2018. He's a high-strikeout guy. The command comes and goes. He had a 5.04 ERA in 25 innings with the Phils last season.
Guerra is relief depth. He has pitched less than one inning in the majors since 2017. He spent most of 2019 at Triple A San Antonio in the Brewers' system and the results were startlingly good for a pitcher in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Guerra had a 1.89 ERA with 88 K's in 67 innings. As outlined here, the PCL was a joke in 2019, with nearly 1,300 more home runs hit than the previous season, in large part because it used the major-league ball.
More here on Forsythe's track record and viability to make the team.
Here is the full list of the Phillies' minor-league signings this offseason:
INF Josh Harrison
LHP Francisco Liriano
RHP Bud Norris
RHP Drew Storen
INF Neil Walker
INF Logan Forsythe
C Christhian Bethancourt
INF Phil Gosselin
INF Ronald Torreyes
OF Matt Szczur
OF Mikie Mahtook