11/2/21 : Off-Season Considerations - Part Three
Third in a series of articles on Phillies off-season potential actions. If you missed part one on Outfielders here’s a link … https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-2-2021-considerations
In today’s game bullpen depth is absolute, multiple pitchers are needed to generally fill innings six thru nine most games. Depth is an absolute.
LH Jose Alvarado will return and could even close if he can harness control of his lively pitches. RH Conor Brogdon leads the remaining group of returning relievers, the 26 year old I believe also generates a great deal of trade inquiry as well so that’s a possibility but let’s assume he returns. RH Sam Coonrad is the only other “lock” to be on the opening day roster at this point. RH JD Hammer, LH Kyle Dohy, LH Damon Jones and RH Ramon Rosso are all presently on the 40 man roster and likely will be in the spring mix to earn a spot and RH Adonis Medina might convert to a relief role, he’s out of minor league recall/options this coming spring. I see LH Bailey Falter as a starter rather than reliever and believe he will get a long look in the spring for the rotation given Zach Eflin’s uncertainty as to being ready for opening day. Otherwise Bailey would certainly be in the running for a bullpen role.
In the minors LH Jeff Singer deserves a look this spring in our humble opinion as does LH Erubiel Armenta. LH Jo Jo Romero continues to work his way back from TJ surgery but likely won’t be ready for spring camp. RH Braden Zarbnisky and RH Mark Appel should see some Grapefruit League action, Appel might fit a multi inning reliever role. Right handers Austin Ross, Tyler Carr, Blake Brown, Billy Sullivan, Aneurys Zabala and lefties Nick Lackney, Brian Marconi, Zach Warren & Jonathan Hennigan all pitched at Reading in 2021 and should get spring looks at least for consideration during the season. Righties Victor Lopez and Carlo Reyes are dark horse candidates to watch out for. RH Andrew Schultz is an in season possibility coming off of TJ surgery but he needs to build up minor league innings first. I don’t discount big arms like Francisco Morales or Griff McGarry from pushing their way to the show as relievers during the summer albeit both are presently being developed as starters.
Free Agents :
RH Hector Neris is a no brainer to me to bring back. The 32 year old is extremely well liked by his teammates, never turns down the baseball and except for a couple week stretch of the year pitched very well in 2021. Overall he appeared in 74 games and recorded a 3.31 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 74 1/3 IP. Hector made $5 million last season and has a likely market value of $7 to $8 million per season for either a two or three year contract. I hope the Phillies get it done.
RH Daniel Hudson ( Padres ) threw the ball well in 2021 posting a 3.31 ERA in 54 games ( 51 2/3 IP ). The 34 year old made $6 million and is likely looking for a bump into the $7 to $8 million range on a two year agreement. He pops the mitt consistently at the 96-97 mph mark with a hard slider as an offset. He’s a veteran who’s even closed on occasion and would provide veteran stability to the late innings.
RH Mychael Givens ( Reds ) had another solid campaign in 2021 posting a 3.35 ERA in 54 games ( 51 IP ) and also recorded 8 saves. The 31 year old earned $4 million during the season and is likely seeking a two or three year deal in the $6 to $7 million per season range. He’s got an excellent change up which offsets a four seam fastball generally sitting in the 94-95 mph range. Another fella who takes the ball without hesitation, Phillies seemingly have had a long term interest in him, could come to fruition this year.
LH Aaron Loup ( Mets ) had a historically great season posting a minuscule 0.95 ERA in 65 games ( 56 2/3 IP ) and a 0.94 WHIP. He was also very good the year before with the Rays. The 33 year old is a side winder who uses a sinker and cutter as his primary pitches. The sinker sits in the 92-93 mph range with the cutter generally in the mid 80’s. He also will mix in a curve and change up. Aaron made $3.25 million in 2021 and could probably be signed for $4 to $5 million per year on a two or three year deal.
RH Ian Kennedy didn’t pitch great as the Phillies closer in 2021 after being acquired from Texas but he’s a veteran who knows how to pitch and could certainly fill a different role next year. The 36 year old made $2.1 million last season and would likely take a similar one year deal in the $2 to $4 million range. As a closer he relied predominantly on his 93 to 94 mph four seam fastball but he has a curve, slider and change up as well that could come into play in a middle multi inning role. For the money doesn’t seem like a bad option to take.
David Robertson ( Rays ) pitched in the Olympics and then signed on with the Rays to finish the season. He made the big league minimum. The 36 year old threw four pitches with the fastball sitting in the 91-93 range relying mostly on its cutting action. He also threw a slider and curve. He appeared in 12 games, struck out 12 and walked just 4 posting a 4.50 ERA. Could likely be signed on a one year deal in the $1 to $2 million range.
Potential Minor League Contracts with ST Invites :
Finding relievers with potential upside who will accept minor league deals is an art in itself but often times they become unheralded assets during the big league season. Here’s a few I’ve researched that I think would be worth an offer.
RHP Keynan Middleton ( 28 yrs old ) -2021 - Mariners - relies on 3 pitches - 4-Seam Fastball (57.7%) Slider (30.2%) Changeup (12.1%) … FB avg - 95 - reaches 96/97, slider - 85 & change up - 87. - Has pitched in 136 MLB games ( all in relief ) - 127 IP ( Angels & Mariners ) … he’s had flashes of showing strong stuff - had five scoreless outings in August for the big league club & posted a 1.17 ERA in 8 May appearances. Finished up the season with AAA Tacoma with four scoreless outings.
RHP Luis Madero ( 24 yrs old ) - 2021 - Marlins - relies on 4 pitches. Slider (50%) 4-Seam Fastball (36.9%) Changeup (10.3%) Sinker (2.8%) - FB range ( 90-94 ), Sinker - 91, Slider - 81 & Changeup - 84. He pitched well for Jacksonville at the AAA level posting a 2.84 ERA in 17 games ( 7 starts ) accumulating 57 IP. Was on the yo-yo this season with the Marlins being sent back and forth to the majors 6 times. Originally signed by the D’Backs as a 17 year old in 2014 he went to Giants as a minor league free agent in 2020 and to Marlins in 2021.
RHP Trevor Gott ( 29 years old ) - 2021 - Giants - relies on 5 pitches. 4-Seam Fastball (63.6%) Curveball (25.3%) Slider (7.8%) Changeup (2.3%) Sinker (0.9%) - FB - 95-96, Curveball - 82, Slider - 90, Changeup - 90, Sinker - 95-96 … was a big part of Giants bullpen in 2019 & 2020 … pitched for Angels & Nationals before that - 146 big league games - 140 IP - generally a strike thrower - pitched at AAA level in 2021 - was set up man for Angels in 2015 as a rookie. He’s got good stuff but has fallen off with command, bad location - if that can be fixed and maintained then he’s a viable bullpen piece.
RHP Jimmy Yacabonis ( 29 years old ) - 2021 - Mariners - relies on 3 pitches. Sinker (65.4%) Changeup (25%) Slider (9.6%) - FB range 92-94, slider 79-80, changeup 85-86. Has very high spin rate on both FB & Slider. He’s from New Jersey and pitched his collegiate years at St Joseph’s University. Drafted by Orioles in 13th round of 2013 draft. Has pitched in 57 major league games with Orioles and Mariners.
RHP Shawn Armstrong ( 31 yrs old ) - 2021 - Orioles/Rays - Armstrong relies on 3 pitches. 4-Seam Fastball (55.3%) Cutter (33.1%) Slider (11.5%) … FB ( four seam - avg 94 - touches 95/96 ), cutter ( avg 89 ) & slider ( avg 85 ). High Spin Rate - was ranked in the 99th percentile in spin rate. FB gets a solid amount of swings and misses, with a 30.4 percent Whiff rate. … has a "take charge" approach. Has pitched in 153 MLB games - 167 IP ( Indians,Mariners, Orioles & Rays )
RHP Jairo Diaz ( 30 years old ) - 2021 - Rockies - relies on 3 pitches. Slider (42%) Sinker (36%) 4-Seam Fastball (22%) - FB/Sinker - 95-96, Slider 85 … capable of upper 90’s FB and has reached triple digits.
RHP A.J. Cole ( 29 years old ) - 2021 - Blue Jays - relies on 5 pitches. 4-Seam Fastball (42.1%) Slider (23.7%) Cutter (19.3%) Curveball (11.4%) Changeup (3.5%) - FB -94-95, Cutter - 90, Slider - 85 , Curve - 78, Changeup - 88 … missed most of 2021 season with an oblique injury.
RHP Reyes Moronta ( 28 years old ) - Giants - Slider (45.8%) 4-Seam Fastball (39.6%) Changeup (14.6%) - FB - 94-97, Slider - 81, Changeup - 86 … was a dominant power reliever for Giants in 2018 and 2019 appearing in 125 games - control issues but overpowering stuff got him out of issues. Forearm strain in 2020 kept him out of action and struggled in 2021 with AAA Sacramento … but … if he can return to form and maintain good health there’s a capability to be a high leverage part of the bullpen.
RHP Tyler Duffey ( Twins ) posted a 3.18 ERA in 64 games ( 62 1/3 IP ) in 2021 … he’s pitched in 255 games for the Twins since the 2015 season. The 30 year old is projected to make $3.7 million in 2022, his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent in 2023. He’s a curveball specialist using that pitch predominantly with his fastball/sinker sitting in the 92-93 mph range. Duffey generally gets the ball put in play and is a strike thrower. Along with LH Taylor Rogers the Twins have two veteran relievers entering their final year of arbitration that they might move. Rogers is projected to make $6.7 million in 2022, he throws harder than Duffey does generally sitting in the 95-96 mph range. One or both could be moved at the ‘22 trade deadline if the Twins struggle again, might be worth a chat now to see what the asking price is during the off season.
RH Michael Fulmer ( Tigers ) moved to a reliever’s role and was outstanding in August and September posting a 1.69 ERA in 24 games ( 26 2/3 IP ) … he posted a 2.97 ERA overall in 52 games ( 69 2/3 IP ) and recorded 14 saves in 18 opportunities. The 28 year old features a sinker and four seamer in the 94-96 mph range along with a dominant slider, he also mixes in a change up. It’s projected that he will make $5.1 million in his final arbitration year this coming season before entering free agency in 2023. The Tigers are on the rise and may not want to move Fulmer now that he’s had success as a reliever but him going into the last year of contract certainty may sway their thoughts.
LH Caleb Smith ( Diamondbacks ) is a swing starter that made 45 appearances in 2021 ( 13 starts ) accumulating 113 2/3 IP. The 30 year old has a four pitch mix with the fastball generally in the lower 90’s range. He’s a veteran who could fill a multi inning relief role and also possibly jump into the rotation as needed providing depth there as well. He’s projected to make $2.1 million in arbitration and won’t be a free agent until 2024. The D’Backs would seem willing to listen to offers, he could potentially help the Phillies in more ways than one.
RH David Bednar ( Pirates ) features a four seam fastball in the 96-98 mph range along with a curve ball and split finger pitch as secondaries. The 27 year old has two more years of team control followed by three years of arbitration meaning he’s not eligible for free agency till 2027. He posted a 2.23 ERA in 61 games ( 60 2/3 IP ) with 77 K’s and 19 walks in 2021. While it’s not likely the Pirates are dangling his name in trade it doesn’t hurt to inquire about what it might take to acquire him. It could be a prospect laden return to do so.
Shortstop will be part four of the series.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
Just watching the grass grow till Baseball starts again 🤓