11/2/21 : Off-Season Considerations - Part Two
Second 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
The desire is to begin the season with an established “go to” hurler to close out games that can shut down the opposition and secure wins.
Mr. Dombrowski said in his last press conference that he didn’t feel the club had any internal options at present for the job. In the minors there are relievers who may present themselves to a future closer’s role such as RH’s Blake Brown, Billy Sullivan or Braden Zarbnisky but it’s more likely they would be utilized in less pressure packed situations when and if they make their big league debuts. RH Seranthony Dominguez is coming back from Tommy John surgery but has yet to get to pre-injury velocity and pitch movement, if he can do so he’s certainly capable. RH Connor Brogdon has the “stuff” to be a closer and was used quite frequently in pressure spots and LH Jose Alvarado has a closer’s arsenal but his inability to consistently throw strikes is a hindrance. RH Sam Coonrad is yet another big arm reliever who could migrate into a closer’s role.
One more potential option exists in young minor league RH Francisco Morales who to date has been developed as a starter but has two plus pitches ( fastball & slider ) that might acclimate him to a closer’s role, he’s just 22 years old and could turn heads in spring camp.
Free Agents :
Raisel Iglesias ( Angels ) has a projected market value of $15.5 million over three years. He converted 34 saves in 39 chances in 2021. The 31 year old fire baller was discussed at the July trade deadline but the Angels didn’t get an offer they deemed worthy to move him. The Phillies will almost certainly have a conversation, how serious it may be likely pends on whether LA makes a qualifying offer and makes his signing subject to a draft pick relinquishment. Word is he’d like to stay with the Angels and prefers a west coast team if not … so there’s that.
Kenley Jansen ( Dodgers ) has a projected market value of $10 million per year on a two year deal. The 34 year old posted 38 saves ( 43 chances ) in 2021 reinventing himself from a pure power pitcher by introducing more sliders but he’s still heavily reliant on a sinker and cutter to produce outs. It’s not likely he returns to the Dodgers and would give the Phillies a proven commodity if they are able to entice him to switch from a blue jersey to a red one.
Corey Knebel ( Dodgers ) didn’t close for LA in 2021 but has experience doing so with the Brewers in 2017 and 2018. The 29 year old made $5.2 million in 2021 in a setup role appearing in 27 games posting a 2.46 ERA, he suffered a lat injury in April but returned to action in August and pitched well in the playoffs also. He focused on a fastball and curve … velocity was consistent on the heater in the 96-97 mph range. I’d guesstimate that a two year contract averaging in the $7 to $9 million range would get it done.
Adam Ottavino ( Red Sox ) posted 11 saves in 17 opportunities in 2021. The 35 year old made $7 million on on the final year of a three year deal. He’s likely looking for $7 to $9 million on a one or two year deal this time around. Fastball sits 94-96 mph and has a plus slider as his out pitch. While not the ideal closer per se he likes pitching on the east coast and at the least would be good depth for the bullpen.
Craig Kimbrel ( White Sox ) - it’s expected that the White Sox will pick up Kimbrel’s $16 million option and then look to trade him. That contract price is a bit steep as the estimated market value for the 33 year old projects to be around $9 million per year on a three year deal should he become a free agent. He didn’t pitch well for the Sox after they acquired him from the Cubs in July but pitching in a setup role may have been a factor. He very much performs on the adrenaline of closing and was excellent for the Cubs in the role ( 0.49 ERA in 36 2/3 IP - 23 saves in 25 chances ). Fastball sits 96-97 with curve as secondary. I expect the Phillies to be very engaged in discussions, they were heavily in the mix at the trade deadline with the Cubs.
Josh Hader ( Brewers ) has been on the Phillies radar for awhile I believe. Discussions haven’t obviously enacted a deal to date but the dialogue hasn’t closed either. He has two years of arbitration left and is expected to bump up to $10 million for this coming season. The Brewers are deep in pitching but won’t trade Hader for a discount. The return to acquire him would likely be multiple players inclusive of some younger ones on the big league roster. What the Phillies would get in return is baseball’s premier closer ( 34 of 35 save conversions in 2021 with a 1.23 ERA in 58 2/3 IP ). Talks at least will likely continue.
Daniel Bard ( Rockies ) converted 20 of 28 save opportunities in 2021. The 36 year old appeared in 67 games ( 65 2/3 IP ) … fastball/sinker in the 96 to 98 mph range with a slider as primary pitch and changeup as well. He’s slated to make $4.8 million next season and then is due to be a free agent. If looking for a cheaper option a deal could likely be made. A former Red Sox player who Mr. Dombrowski has knowledge of.
Alex Colome ( Twins ) converted 17 of 24 save chances in 2021. He was in 67 games and pitched 65 innings posting a 4.15 ERA. The 32 year old former White Sox and Rays hurler is 32 years old and has 155 career saves from 2015 thru 2021. He uses a fastball and cutter to get outs with the heater in the 94-96 range. His contract status is a $6 million mutual option for 2022 with a $1.25 million club buyout. Most of his blown saves were in April, pitched relatively well thereafter. He would be a free agent option if the Twins decide to not renew his contract.
Bullpen depth will be part three of the series.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️