The Philadelphia Phillies have avoided arbitration with left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo by signing him to a new one-year contract worth $1.4 million.
Friday was the last day for clubs and players to discuss dollar amounts with arbitration-eligible players. Bastardo was the only Phillies player who was eligible for arbitration this season, which was also the first time that he has been eligible in his career.
After a strong start to the 2011 season, where he had a 1.42 ERA and allowed just 19 hits through 50 2/3 innings, Bastardo struggled with his control and command in the final month of the season, finishing with a 2.64 ERA and eight saves in 58 innings pitched.
Bastardo’s struggles continued as he finished last season with a 2-5 record and a 4.33 ERA. The 27-year-old also recorded a save and 81 strikeouts in 52 innings pitched.
According to FanGraphs, Bastardo finished third among MLB relievers in strikeouts per nine innings with 14.02. He ranked just behind Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, who finished with a 16.66 total, and Cincinnati Reds flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, who finished with a 15.32 total.
Bastardo was also very good against left-handed hitters. After facing 95 left-handers, Bastardo only gave up 14 hits and 11 earned runs. Bastardo was not just good against left-handers, but he was consistent all-around. Batters hit a combined .204 against him in 2012.
With the recent signing of Mike Adams to help anchor a bullpen that already features the Phillies’ prized 2012 free agency acquisition, Jonathan Papelbon, manager Charlie Manuel will be able to utilize Bastardo earlier in the game and in special situations.
If the Phillies can use Bastardo’s talents at the correct times during a ball game, then he may become one of the most valuable and under-the-radar weapons for the Phillies bullpen in 2013.