Five free agent relief pitchers
It’s the week after Thanksgiving, and the Phillies haven’t signed anyone yet. I know that it is still relatively early but come on Klentak. If you watched any of the 2018 season, you know that the Phillies need to add some pieces this offseason. I wrote an article about five free agent starting pitchers the Phillies should sign, this will be the same sort of thing, except with relievers. Obviously, the bullpen was a struggle for the Phillies in 2018, here is my list of five free agent relief pitchers the Phillies should think about signing.
#1 Adam Ottavino
Ottavino is my first of five free agent relief pitchers, and he had a career year in 2018 with the Colorado Rockies. He posted a 6-4 record with a 2.43 ERA in 77.2 innings. During those 77.2 innings, he stuck out 112 batters. The former first-round pick Ottavino posted a 2.0 WAR (which for a reliever is outstanding).
A different view of that Adam Ottavino slider to Dansby Swanson from last weekend. ? pic.twitter.com/egzBYsyApM
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 22, 2018
Ottavino would be my top priority in the bullpen if I’m the Phillies, and as of today, the 2019 reliever market has not been set. Meaning, I think the Phillies could sign Ottavino for relatively cheap after the season he just had.
Adam "Blitz Ball" Ottavino TKO by 80mph Slider over Tony "The Nashvegas Hitman" Kemp. ? pic.twitter.com/VszL4UonPZ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 15, 2018
My Offer: Ottavino has one of the best sliders in baseball, and comes from almost a side-arm slot. I would offer the 33-year-old a three-year deal worth $30M. Giving him $10M might be enough to make him a Philadelphia Phillie.
#2 Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel is my second of five free agent relief pitchers. I think everyone watched the 2018 World Series, and I think we all know that Kimbrel struggled. Kimbrel may have hurt his value enough for the Phillies to get him. Believe it or not, Kimbrel has a career ERA under 2.00. This past season, Kimbrel finished with 42 saves and a 2.74 ERA while striking out 96 batters in 62.1 innings. There is no question that his stuff plays, but at what cost?
Craig Kimbrel’s age and poor command should give pause to teams interested in signing him. https://t.co/unJQHv2XDU
— Luis Torres (@ChemTorres21) November 21, 2018
I think Kimbrel would be a great piece to add to the Phillies bullpen, but I’m worried his asking price is going to be too high. The Atlanta Braves will certainly be in the mix for Kimbrel, and it doesn’t help the Phillies that he came up with Atlanta.
Phillies trying to sign reliever Craig Kimbrel who saved 42 games last season with a 5-1 record 274 ERA and 96 strikeouts
— Leader Johnson (@WriterLeader247) November 26, 2018
My Offer: The league has made a point to pay a reliever, especially when he is the team’s closer. Depending on who else the Phillies sign, will depend on how much money I can give to Kimbrel. The question both Klentak and I have to ask ourselves is, how much is too much for a closer? I would offer the 31-year-old a five-year deal worth $75M, and I would give Kimbrel $15M a year, and he will anchor the back end of the Phillies bullpen.
#3 Zach Britton
Britton is the third of five free agent relief pitchers and might be the most interesting option for the Phillies. Britton came back from an Achilles injury this past season, and he was not the same as the 2017 version. The former Oriole finished 2018 with a 3.10 ERA in 40.2 innings striking out 34 batters. This wasn’t too far from his career 3.21 ERA, but that is inflated because of his terrible numbers as a starter.
When Zach Britton‘s healthy, his sinker just is straight filth and the #Yankees were able to see flashes of that when they acquired him before the deadline. Does Britton return to Bronx in 2019? pic.twitter.com/EbQONTzTru
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) November 17, 2018
Britton is just 31 years old and has proven to be a reliable reliever. I think that his value has gone down considerably since his injury. Adding a lefty reliever is never a bad idea, and I think Britton is a much better option than the 34-year-old Andrew Miller.
My Offer: Britton has shown both his ability to succeed and struggle. I would offer Britton a 3-year deal worth $24M. Giving him $8M a year may not be enough to sign him, but if the Phillies can get him at this price, it will be worth it.
#4 Jeurys Familia
Jeurys Familia is the fourth of five free agent relief pitchers, and Phillies’ fans should know Familia from his time with the Mets. Familia finished the 2018 season with the Oakland A’s. His 2018 statistics were a 3.13 ERA in 72 innings and 83 strikeouts. Familia’s best pitch is his 95 MPH sinker. They say its heavy, which if you have ever hit a baseball before, you know that is not fun.
Jeurys Familia has gone through a lot of twists and turns in the last 2 years, but he might get a bigger deal this winter than you think.
A look at the numbers says Familia is one of the best FA reliever options out there. https://t.co/8VdkrQAhwt
— Matt Kelly (@mattkellyMLB) November 17, 2018
Familia could be a good, cheap option for the Phillies. Although the 29-year-old finished with a 1.8 WAR, I don’t think his asking price will be out of this world.
My Offer: I would offer Familia the same contract as Britton. A three-year deal worth $24M. $8M may be enough to sign Familia, but if it isn’t, I would offer him a four-year deal instead of giving him a higher average salary.
#5 Kelvin Herrera
Herrera is the final option on my list of free agent relief pitchers. The 29-year-old Herrera was the staple of the World Series-winning Kansas City Royals’ bullpen. He was a flamethrower out of the bullpen, regularly hitting 100 MPH on the gun. In 2018, Herrera finished with a 2.44 ERA in just 44.1 innings, but Herrera’s strikeouts were down, he finished with just 38 on the season.
Kelvin Herrera's agent remains tight-lipped over what teams have interest, but Halos would seem to be the favorite
— Bot Stove (@BotStove) November 21, 2018
I would not sign Herrera to be the closer, but I do think he would help the bullpen. His postseason experience is something that you cannot quantify, and at 29-years-old Herrera seems like a good fit.
Kelvin Herrera demonstrating this pattern. This is what pivot pickoffs and every drill for that matter should look like. We don't need to overcomplicate things here. Cue what the most efficient throwers in the world do. pic.twitter.com/e4YQS8ij8F
— Ben Brewster (@TreadAthletics) October 17, 2018
My Offer: Herrera is offered my cheapest deal here because I think his value is very low, and this is a move that I think the Phillies should make if they make a huge splash with a position player. (Hint Hint). I would give Herrera a 2-year deal worth $12M and an option for a third year. With an average of $6M a year, I think this will be enough to sign Herrera.
What a new bullpen could mean
There is no question that additions to the bullpen would certainly improve the Phillies, but the team to beat in the NL East is the Atlanta Braves. The Braves won 90 games and the NL East title in 2018. The only positive thing is if the Phillies sign one or more of these five free agent relief pitchers, I think they would have a better bullpen than the Braves. Just improving the bullpen will not guarantee the Phillies a spot in the playoffs, but it’s a start.