The Philadelphia Phillies only have one relief pitcher officially signed for next season, as the team inked Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal prior this past offseason that keeps him in a Phillies uniform through 2015.
Antonio Bastardo, Michael Stutes, and Kyle Kendrick are locks to make the team for next season – although Kendrick will probably contribute out of five-man starting rotation instead. But after that, there are no guarantees as to who will make the team.
The Phillies have a bunch of players like Jake Diekman, Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, Jeremy Horst, Raul Valdes, B.J. Rosenberg, and Justin Friend competing for spots on the official 25-man roster next season. And they will likely bring in a few veterans around the league. Some of the following guys would be good options.
Mike Adams, Texas Rangers
This would be a great pickup for the Phillies. Mike Adams is already 34 years old and his strikeout rate has dropped for three consecutive seasons which is always a clear sign of a pitcher’s decline.
But Adams is still having a great season for the Texas Rangers (2.68 ERA and a terrific 3.02 strikeout to walk ratio). He’s always been very tough to hit, and the Phillies need another good right-handed relief pitcher to add to their collection for next season.
Jeremy Affeldt, San Francisco Giants
The Phillies have a bunch of left-handed pitchers this year in their bullpen, but Jeremy Affeldt is still a guy they should look at for 2013.
He’s been very consistent during his career. He’s 33 and in his 11th major league season but he has a 2.70 ERA and his stats have been nearly the same for the last two seasons, which is a direct tribute to his consistency.
Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays
The fact that Kyle Farnsworth is 36 years old and on his fifth team in five seasons means he likely won’t be a hot commodity in free agent. And there’s always a chance the Phillies could whiff on Farnsworth and see him turn into the next Chad Qualls.
But he’s a good relief pitcher who is having another solid season out of the bullpen. Farnsworth has a 3.47 ERA and his 8.1 strikeout rate is still pretty high. And the best part is that he hasn’t given up a home run, which could be very useful in a pitching ballpark like that of the Phillies.
He also has experience as a closer, having converted 25 saves for the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays, and for a Phillies team that need a right-handed man out of the ‘pen, Farnsworth may be a good option in 2013.
Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Reds
There’s something about signing a near-300-pound man that makes me think twice. But Jonathan Broxton is still having a very productive season, despite seeing a shocking drop in his strikeout rate.
Broxton has a 3.00 ERA for the Cincinnati Reds in 15 innings pitched after posting just a 2.27 mark in 35.2 innings with the Kansas City Royals earlier this season. He has a terrific walk rate and he could definitely be a seventh or eighth inning guy for the Phillies. Plus, you’d have to imagine he would love not having to face the Phillies anymore considering how much the team has rocked him over the years.
Tim Byrdak, New York Mets
I don’t think there’s going to be too much bidding for Tim Byrdak, considering he’s a LOOGY pushing his 40th birthday.
But Byrdak is still having a decent enough season for the New York Mets, with a 4.40 ERA which isn’t great but a promising 10.0 strikeout rate. Byrdak has been tough to hit this year, as he’s allowing just 5.3 hits per nine innings and he has allowed just two home runs among 125 batters faced.
Shawn Camp, Chicago Cubs
He may be 37 years old but Shawn Camp is still leading the National League in games pitched (73) as a reliever. He has a 3.55 ERA and a very productive 2.68 strikeout to walk ratio.
Camp is making just $550K this season and the Phillies wouldn’t be able to get him next year for that price but he could be a solid enough option for around $1.2-$1.5 million.
Brandon League, Los Angeles Dodgers
Since 2010, Brandon League has been one of the better relievers in the game but I don’t think he strikes out enough hitters or posts a low enough ERA to be a closer. So that’s why I think the Phillies could get him on a solid three-year deal as a setup man.
Brandon Lyon, Toronto Blue Jays
Lyon has a 3.07 ERA in 58.2 innings pitched between the Astros and Jays this season, and there are definitely some intriguing aspects of his game that will make him one of the more sought-after non-closers in the game this upcoming offseason. He has a 4.00 strikeout to walk ratio, a fine ERA, and he’s giving up just 7.9 hits per nine innings for the year.
Ryan Madson, Cincinnati Reds
It was unfortunate that soon after the Reds signed Ryan Madson to a one-year deal, he promptly got injured and hasn’t thrown a pitch this season. Madson’s one-year, $6 million contract does include an option for the 2013 campaign, but $11 million is substantially too much to pay for a guy who won’t be the closer now that the team has realized the true value of Aroldis Chapman.
Madson could still get a deal around three years for $30 million but maybe he will take a hometown discount to come back to the Phillies. He’s certainly proven his production, as he has a 21-13 record, 2.89 ERA, and 3.24 strikeout to walk ratio since 2007, and he’s thrived as both a setup man and closer. Madson throws hard and he and Papelbon pitching the eighth and ninth innings would be a tough combination for opposing teams.
Jon Rauch, New York Mets
I really like Jon Rauch a lot. He’s been a pretty dependable middle reliever for a handful of teams over the bulk of the past decade.
He’s a mammoth of a man at 6’11” and close to 300 pounds, and he normally does pretty well. Since 2006, Rauch has averaged over 70 appearances out of the bullpen per season and he’s put up a 3.64 ERA and 2.89 strikeout to walk ratio during that span. That would be a pretty solid acquisition for the Phillies.