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“Seven Free Agent Relievers the Phillies Could Add to Strengthen Bullpen” – Phillies Nation

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Hector Neris is a free agent. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)

In his year-end press conference, Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that he didn’t believe the team needed to add a star closer to get over the hump and win a World Series.

So far this offseason, there’s no indication that Dombrowski’s perspective has changed. There have been repeated reports that the team isn’t in the market for Josh Hader, a free-agent closer whose career is on a Hall of Fame trajectory. In fact, Dombrowski has suggested the Phillies are likely to add a reliever on a one-year deal, which probably takes them out of the running for Jordan Hicks and Robert Stephenson as well.

Given the disastrous note his postseason run ended on, Craig Kimbrel feels unlikely to return to the Phillies for a second season. But for whatever lows his 2023 campaign had, Kimbrel made 71 appearances for the Phillies this past season, the most of any reliever on the team. Replacing Kimbrel with another reliever for around the $10 million he made in 2023 makes sense.

José Alvarado, Seranthony Domínguez, Gregory Soto, Jeff Hoffman and Matt Strahm are locked into bullpen spots, and there’s a pretty good chance that Orion Kerkering will be asked to pitch a significant chunk of innings in his first full MLB season. Here are a few veterans that could join a seemingly talented group in the arm barn.

Hector Neris

After spending the first eight seasons of his career with the Phillies, Neris departed in free agency after the 2021 season to sign a two-year/$17 million deal with the Houston Astros.

In a remarkable turn of events, Neris and the Astros then defeated the Phillies in the 2022 World Series. Over the lifetime of the deal, Neris posted a 2.69 ERA and 3.10 FIP across 141 appearances.

He declined his half of an $8.5 million mutual option for 2024, which certainly means he expects to top that amount of money this season, and probably get a multi-year deal. Neris had a tremendous reputation during his time with the Phillies, but his 307 appearances since the start of the 2019 season are the most in baseball. At 34, there would be some level of risk in giving him multiple seasons.

Aroldis Chapman

Phillies manager Rob Thomson was the bench coach for the New York Yankees in 2016 and 2017, when Chapman was the team’s closer. Chapman’s second stint with the Yankees ended in pretty awful fashion in 2022, but he posted a 3.09 ERA and 2.52 FIP in 61 games between the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers in 2023, winning a World Series title with the latter. We would guess he won’t be a fit for the Phillies, with MLB Trade Rumors projecting he’ll land a two-year deal.

Ryne Stanek

In 55 games for the Astros in 2023, Stanek disappointed, posting a 4.09 ERA and 4.60 FIP. However, he was tremendous in 2022, finishing the season with a 1.15 ERA and 3.02 FIP in 59 games. The 32-year-old would be an ideal candidate for the Phillies to take a flier on hoping for a bounce back.

Adam Ottavino

Over the last two seasons with the New York Mets, Ottavino posted a 2.62 ERA and 3.66 FIP over 132 appearances. After recently celebrating his 38th birthday, Ottavino is almost certainly looking at a one-year deal. Could his frisbees be a fit in the Phillies bullpen? Ottavino — who once claimed he would strike Babe Ruth out — would be a popular personality in Philadelphia if he pitched well.

Will Smith

Smith has been part of three consecutive World Series winning teams, so perhaps his good karma alone would be worth a flier for the Phillies. The 34-year-old has a 3.91 ERA over the last three seasons, so he’s not the All-Star caliber pitch he was once with the San Francisco Giants. But he would give the Phillies another left-handed option to go with Alvarado, Soto and Strahm.

David Robertson

Robertson was very effective in 40 games for the Mets this past season, posting a 2.05 ERA and 3.57 FIP. However, his season unraveled after being traded to the Miami Marlins, including when the Phillies swept them in the NLWCS. Robertson will pitch somewhere in 2024, but he’ll turn 39 in April and you wonder if Father Time has finally caught up to him. A third stint in red pinstripes might not be in the cards.

Phil Maton

Would Maton avoid signing in Philadelphia simply because he doesn’t want to be asked about breaking his hand punching a locker after he gave up a hit to his younger brother Nick — then with the Phillies — in a meaningless late-season game in 2022? It would be hard to blame him. He has pitched in 135 games over the past two seasons, though, so he would help to fill the void of Kimbrel’s loss.


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