After the Philadelphia Phillies had released a veteran reliever just a day earlier, it was announced today that he was re-signed by the team.
So what was behind the reasoning for the Phils to let veteran relief pitcher Edward Mujica go one day, and bring him back the next? One word on each side: “opportunity” on Mujica’s side, and “money” on the Phillies’ side.
The terms of Mujica coming to camp with the club were that he had to be paid a $100,000 bonus by the end of the day on Tuesday in order for the Phillies to keep him around.
The 31-year old, 10-year MLB veteran had generally pitched well this spring. Over 8.1 innings across seven games, Mujica recorded a 2.16 ERA and a tidy 0.72 WHIP mark. He allowed just four hits, with a 7/2 K:BB ratio.
However, the Phillies simply did not feel that he was adding enough to the club to be worth paying the bonus, particularly when they had other options performing just as well.
So the release saved the club the money, and gave Mujica an opportunity to look around and see if another job was available in the league. His re-signing would appear to indicate that such job was not out there for the taking.
The deal signed by Mujica is a minor league contract, and so if the Phils decide that he is not going to make the final roster, which remains a longshot possibility, he could start the season pitching out of the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs bullpen, possibly as their closer.
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In today’s Grapefruit League finale, an 8-4 comeback victory at Bright House Field over the Houston Astros, the Phillies got shutout outings from a trio of other relievers who have likely made the team in righty David Hernandez, and lefties Daniel Stumpf and James Russell.
Bailey also pitched in today’s game, coming in for the 9th inning with the Phillies holding an 8-3 lead. Bailey did himself no favors, allowing an earned run on three hits including a double. There is a good chance that Bailey will find himself joining Mujica at Lehigh Valley.
Should that prove out as a result of today’s poor outing, the final choice may come down to Frieri and Neris. In that decision, Neris has a minors option, which might be the decisive factor. Frieri, who appeared a longshot until the last couple of weeks, has seen an uptick in his fastball speed and overall stuff, which might have been just enough for him to make the Opening Day roster.
Whatever may shake out in the end, assuming they do both go down to AAA for now, both Mujica and Bailey would become veteran options for a call-up should they pitch well and another reliever either falter badly or become injured. It’s nice knowing such options are available to this year’s club.