Phillies Sign Free Agent Reliever Ernesto Frieri

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The Philadelphia Phillies have signed former closer Ernesto Frieri as a free agent.

The 30-year old Frieri was the closer for the Los Angeles Angels during parts of the 2012-14 seasons, including the entirety of 2013 when he saved 37 games for the Halos.

In all, Frieri recorded 71 Saves during his time with the Angels before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in June of 2014 in exchange for reliever Jason Grilli.

Frieri was originally signed back in 2003 by the San Diego Padres as an amateur free agent out of Colombia. After pitching most of his early years in the San Diego minors system as a reliever, the Padres gave him a shot as a starting pitcher in both the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

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In 2009, Frieri received a late season call-up, and appeared in just two games. In July of 2010 he was again promoted to the big leagues, this time to stay. Over 33 games he fashioned a stellar 1.71 ERA, 1.105 WHIP, and allowed just 18 hits in 31.2 innings with a 41/17 K:BB ratio.

The righthander remained a key piece to the Padres bullpen over the next couple of seasons. He appeared in 59 games in 2011, and another 67 games in 2012.

In parts of four seasons with the Padres, Frieri allowed just 78 hits in 108.1 innings, striking out 137 batters. In May of 2012, San Diego traded him to the Angels in exchange for infielder Alexi Amarista and prospect pitcher Donn Roach.

After his 2014 trade from the Angels to the Pirates, Frieri became a free agent and signed with the Tampa Bay Rays. He pitched with the Rays into early June this past season when Tampa decided to designate him for assignment, ostensibly cutting him loose.

Despite his ineffectiveness over the last couple of seasons, why no big league club signed an experienced reliever to even a minor league deal after that remains a mystery. The Phillies have nothing to lose, are looking for such arms to fill their bullpen, and certainly represent a chance for the former successful closer to straighten himself out.

Frieri will come to spring training with a real shot at making the roster, if he can show that he can get big league hitters out at all. The Phillies bullpen ERA in 2015 was 17th in the Major Leagues at 3.81, and there is plenty of room for improvement.

In fact, with the trading away of former closer Ken Giles last week, the Phillies own closer role is wide open. If Frieri can rebound in the spring, he could conceivably battle newcomer David Hernandez, returning reliever Luis Garcia, and any number of others for a shot at the role, at least for the short term.

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