Phillies sign southpaw reliever Fernando Abad to minor league deal

BOSTON, MA - JULY 29: Fernando Abad
BOSTON, MA - JULY 29: Fernando Abad /

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is taking advantage of a slow-moving free agent market

After missing out on free agent reliever Tony Watson the Phillies agreed to a minor league deal with 32-year-old lefty reliever Fernando Abad. MLB Network Insider Jon Herman was the first to report the deal, and’s Jesse Sanchez says the deal includes a mutual option for 2019.

Entering spring training Philadelphia carried only one left-handed reliever with at least 40 major league innings in their career. That one pitcher is former starter Adam Morgan, who was moved to the bullpen after multiple shoulder injuries.

Abad has bounced between Boston, Oakland, Houston, Minnesota, and Washington during an eight-year career with a career 3.65 ERA.

The addition of Abad gives the Phillies with the potential to carry two lefty reliever with with Morgan, Hoby Milner, Ranger Suarez, and Zac Curtis on the 40-man roster. Suarez is unlikely to make the club having only pitched as high as Single-A Lakewood, while Curtis has little major league experience or success.

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Milner and Morgan likely have the inside track to make the bullpen after strong seasons last year. Morgan, once the team’s top hilliesitching prospect, has transitioned well from the rotation to the ‘pen with 63 strikeouts in 54.2 innings last year. After spending the first half of the season in Triple A Morgan recorded a 1.78 ERA in 21 games from August to October.

Milner came up from Lehigh Valley and shutdown opposing batters with an outstanding 2.01 ERA in 37 games. The former seventh round pick was taken in the Rule 5 Draft by the Cleveland Indians last year, but was returned to the Phillies organization.

Abad would likely have to push out either Morgan or Milner for a spot on the 25-man roster, which feels unlikely. It’s a low-risk high reward deal for Philadelphia adding a veteran reliever to push the young arms and pass on his veteran knowledge.

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Abad’s name is also the first listed on lists of all major league players when listed in alphabetical order.