By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor
For the first time in over half a decade, the Philadelphia Phillies may be in position to buy prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. At the start of their Tuesday evening game with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phillies were tied with the Washington Nationals for the second Wild Card spot in the National League. While the Phillies could potentially make upgrades at closer, backup catcher, third base and right field over the next month plus, general manager Matt Klentak thinks the biggest addition could be an internal one.
Klentak, who is in the midst of his third year as the Phillies general manager, spoke to the collective media Tuesday afternoon. He said that getting back the team's 2017 All-Star representative, Pat Neshek, could be one of the biggest upgrades that a team makes this summer.
“That may be the single biggest bullpen acquisition any team makes, Pat Neshek rejoining us,” Klentak told the assembled beat writers, including Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “This guy was as good a setup reliever as there was in all of baseball for six months last season.”
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Neshek, 37, returned to the Phillies on a two-year/$16.25 million contract this past offseason after the Phillies dealt him to the Colorado Rockies last July. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports even noted that Neshek left more money on the table from the Rockies, who he pitched in the postseason with in 2017.
However, he's yet to pitch in a game for the Phillies during his second stint with the club. Though he was on the Opening Day roster, Neshek was unavailable during the club's bullpen meltdown due to a right shoulder strain that ultimately landed him on the disabled list. In early May, Neshek suffered a setback as he attempted to return from the shoulder strain, suffering what Gabe Kapler told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki was a "mild flexor strain."
Neshek, per MLB.com, began throwing live batting practice this week. Though Klentak was unwilling to commit to a specific timetable, he did tell Salisbury that Neshek will start a rehab stint as soon as the organization determines that he's ready to pitch in a live game.
The Phillies, given that Luis Garcia is on the disabled list and Hector Neris was optioned to Triple-A Monday, could probably stand to add another reliever in addition to getting the veteran righty back.