The Phillies Bullpen Could Use a Hand

Brad_Hand_on_June_21 _2016By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version)UCinternational (Crop) - Originally posted to Flickr

It has been widely reported that this offseason will be wildly unpredictable for MLB teams.   Even though MLB has released a full 162-game schedule for the 2021 season, there are doubts as to whether or not the full complement of games will take place.  Even if they do, teams are trying to figure out how to navigate substantial revenue losses in 2020.  Are teams willing to give up some real talent to save even just $1 million?  That appears to be the case with one reliever.

Zack Meisel of The Athletic reports that the Indians are seeking to get out of paying a buyout by placing Hand on waivers:

The team awarded the claim would only have the responsibility of paying Hand for one year.

The Indians are hoping that a team will be willing to take on the $10 million deal so they save $1 million.  If no one claims Hand, they might be forced to pay the buyout.  But would he clear waivers?  The Phillies could really benefit from having Hand on their 2020 team.

The Phillies were reportedly in on two free agent relievers last season in Dellin Betances and Blake Treinen.  Both pitchers eclipsed $10 million each, and the Phillies added essentially nothing, even with David Robertson and Seranthony Dominguez each likely out for the season.  Might they pony up the money this time?

The Phillies will need to find a way to add talent and ideally without giving up talent to get it.  Hand would just cost the Phillies money.  And with the Phillies finishing four games below the .500 mark, they will likely have claim priority over some teams who have more substantial financial resources (and finished better than the Phillies).   Perhaps only the Boston Red Sox might have priority over the Phillies in terms of teams who might decide to take the chance.

Hand was 2-1 with a 2.05 earned run average for Cleveland in 2020, with 16 saves.  In 2019, Hand saved 34 games for Cleveland, with a 3.30 earned run average.  Hand throws from the left side.  As of right now, Jojo Romero is the lone left-handed reliever for the Phillies.

Between free agency and other moves, the Phillies have six fewer relievers in the organization than they had last week.  David Phelps is likely to have his option declined as well, leaving the Phillies bullpen pretty bare.    If the Phillies can be awarded the waiver claim, they're not going to have a long-term contract liability, and acquiring him would only cost the club money. 

This is a move the Phillies should consider making.

Phillies Outright Hembree, Morgan Off of Roster

The Phillies made a couple early moves regarding their bullpen.  After the club saw relievers David Robertson, Tommy Hunter, Brandon Workman and Jose Àlvarez declare free agency, two other relievers have been taken off of the Phillies roster as well.  Both Heath Hembree, acquired from the Boston Red Sox over the summer, and Adam Morgan have been outrighted off the Phillies roster.

Both Hembree and Morgan had been eligible for arbitration.  Either player can accept a minor league assignment or choose to be a free agent.  However, the move was likely motivated by very different circumstances for each player.

Hembree was not helpful to the Phillies at all, after the July trade that sent pitcher Nick Pivetta to Boston and Hembree and Workman to Philadelphia.  Arriving with a 5.59 earned run average, Hembree was exponentially worse for the Phillies from the trade forward.  Hembree finished the year with a 9.00 earned run average, with his Phillies ERA being 12.29 in 11 appearances.  The Phillies probably would have had to give Hembree a raise, nonetheless.


Morgan pitched well for the Phillies, but underwent elbow surgery that makes his 2021 outlook uncertain.  Morgan is said to miss six to  nine months after having the surgery.  The Phillies could sign Morgan to a minor league deal and hope that they reap some later-season benefits from Morgan for their marginal investment now.  The Phillies will need the salary that Morgan would earn in arbitration to work on the bullpen and other parts of the roster.

The Phillies have now six fewer relievers than they did a week ago and will have much work to do in the bullpen.   The Phillies probably will also part ways with David Phelps.  Phelps has a $250,000 buyout or a $4.5 million option in his contract.  Phelps is likely to earn less than $4.5 million in 2021.

The Phillies will have a lot to build in the bullpen this season, and at least the slate is almost clear.


Eight Phillies Declare Free Agency


The offseason is underway.  With the defeat of the Tampa Bay Rays by the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games, the World Series is in the record books.  The day later, as is always the case, players may declare free agency.  Seven Phillies filed on Tuesday.

The Phillies players who filed are:

  • Catcher J.T. Realmuto
  • Shortstop Didi Gregorius
  • Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta
  • Outfielder Jay Bruce
  • Reliever Jose Alvarez
  • Reliever Tommy Hunter
  • Reliever David Robertson 
  • Reliever Brandon Workman

The Phillies have stated their desire to re-sign Realmuto.  Even though finances are very much still unpredictable in 2021, Realmuto could very well be the highest-paid free agent in all of baseball this offseason.

The Phillies will have five days to decide which of their free agent players to which they should extend a qualifying offer.  A player who accepts a qualifying offer will accept a one-year contract at a rate of $18.9 million.

Realmuto is sure to get an offer, but just as sure to reject it.  That means the Phillies would receive draft pick compensation if another team signs him.  The five pitchers are not likely to receive a qualifying offer.  But Gregorius could be interesting.

$18.9 million represents a $4.9 million increase from his one-year $14 million deal agreed to prior to the 2020 season.   The market is not thought to be particularly strong for the non-stars, and Gregorius might risk a lower salary by not accepting.  Plus, with draft pick compensation attached, another club may not wish to extend it.

$18.9 million for one year of Didi Gregorius sounds like a reasonable deal after his performance last season.

The Phillies might wish to bring Alvarez back, who performed well for the Phillies the last two seasons.  Alvarez was the most reliable reliever in the Phillies bullpen prior to a testicular contusion from a line drive.  

Hunter performed well last season, too, and perhaps the Phillies will be interested in bringing him back.

The Phillies might set some other players free in coming weeks.  David Phelps has a $4.5 million option the Phillies can reject, paying a $250,000 buyout instead.  That decision should come within five days from the World Series, as that's the common contract stipulation.

The Phillies must also decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players such as Vince Velasquez and Heath Hembree.  The Phillies may prefer to have that money to spend on other players.  Neither player performed particularly well for the Phillies in 2020.   Hector Neris also is arbitration-eligible but likely to remain in a thin bullpen.

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Two Veteran Free Agent Targets for the Sixers

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Rumors are starting to swirl about when the next NBA season is going to begin. Based on recent reports, it looks like the NBA is aiming to start next season around Christmas Day. 

If the NBA season does start in December, it is going to be a frenzy in the month teams will have between the draft and the start of the season. With next season potentially around the corner, here are two veterans the Sixers should target to fill out their roster. 

Jae Crowder 

With Mike Scott having some inconsistent play last season, the Sixers might look to upgrade at the backup forward spot. If they choose to do so, Crowder would be a solid choice of a three-and-D wing player to bring off the bench. 

Crowder is coming off a season with Miami and Memphis, where he averaged 10.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 2.5 APG. He also spaced the floor well, shooting 34.3% on about six attempts a game. Crowder was an even better shooter off the catch, shooting 35.4% from deep when catching and shooting. 

Adding Crowder would be a nice addition to the Sixers’ second unit. Along with what he will bring on the floor, he will also be bringing veteran and playoff experience. Crowder’s a strong defender and can be relied on to knock down shots on the outside, he would be a good player for the Sixers to sign with their MLE. 

Jeff Green 

Jeff Green brings a lot of the same things that Jae Crowder brings, but could be acquired on a smaller price tag. With all the money tied up in the team’s core, Green could be a nice addition to the bench on a veteran minimum contract. 

Last year for the Rockets, Green averaged 9.4 PPG,2.8 RPG, and shot 34% from beyond the arc. Like Crowder, Green also improves when shooting right off the catch. When catching and shooting from deep last year, he shot 35.4%. 

Green is another free agent wing player who could come in, defend well, and knock down shots on the outside. He also has potential as a small-ball center if the team ever wanted to play small and up the pace. 

During the Rockets’ small ball experiment last season, Green was effective in the pick and roll as the roll man. Now he likely wouldn’t be doing that in Philadelphia, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind. 

The Sixers are going to need to find veterans who can come in and outplay their contracts, and Green could be a guy to do that. He could come to Philadelphia and slide right into a role as a backup forward who comes in and spaces the floor. 

Both of these players would be good additions to the Sixers’ roster. It will be fascinating to see how free agency plays out with such a short window from now until the season potentially starts in December.