Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is clearly focusing on the bullpen this offseason
After re-signing veteran reliever Pat Neshek the Phillies were rumored to be connected to another veteran bullpen arm. Despite reports the club had agreed to a three-year deal with former Mets closer Addison Reed, the team signed former Rays reliever Tommy Hunter to a two-year deal.
In 61 innings for the Rays last season Hunter had a 2.61 ER with 64 strikeouts and one save. He’s likely destined to be the club’s seventh or eighth inning arm with Neshek serving the open role.
Members of the Phillies organization have a brief history with Hunter from his days in Baltimore. Club president Andy MacPhail and Klentak were in their final stint with the Orioles when they acquired Hunter from the Rangers along with slugger Chris Davis when they traded away Koji Uehara.
With major questions surrounding starting pitchers in the free agent market Klentak appears to be setting up for a deep bullpen this season. Manager Gabe Kapler will have young arms like Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Vince Velasquez, Jake Thompson going out and potentially running into trouble after five or six innings.
With a stronger bullpen, the Phillies are putting themselves in more games late than they were last year. Philadelphia’s bullpen had a 4.18 ERA and a record of 23-34 last season, and also gave up 58 home runs to opponents during the seventh through the ninth inning.
Expect the Phillies to make even more moves during the winter meetings, but more likely on the trade front.