Should the Phillies trade for or buy a closer this offseason?

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 29: Reliever Edwin Diaz #39 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during the ninth inning of a game against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on September 29, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 4-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 29: Reliever Edwin Diaz #39 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during the ninth inning of a game against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field on September 29, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The Mariners won the game 4-1. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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DENVER, CO – MAY 20: Relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates after recording the final out of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on May 20, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Phillies defeated the Rockies 4-2. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – MAY 20: Relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates after recording the final out of the game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on May 20, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Phillies defeated the Rockies 4-2. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

Throwing a lot of money at relievers hasn’t paid off in recent years. The Phillies gave Jonathan Papelbon $50 million, and while he became the franchise’s all-time saves leader he was a fester in the clubhouse and with the fans.

Last offseason the Phillies gave Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter $34.2 million combined over two years. Neshek was limited to 30 games because of injuries, but he held a respectful 2.59 ERA. Hunter struggled out of the gate with a 4.54 ERA in his first 43 appearances, but he evened out at the end of the year with a 2.94 ERA in his last 22 games.

ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 22: Mark Melancon #41 of the San Francisco Giants leaves the field after giving up the game-winning home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the tenth inning at Busch Stadium on September 22, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 22: Mark Melancon #41 of the San Francisco Giants leaves the field after giving up the game-winning home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the tenth inning at Busch Stadium on September 22, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Two years ago the San Francisco Giants gave Mark Melancon a four-year deal worth $62 million that hasn’t had a strong return on investment. He dealt with a forearm injury last year and suffered two elbow strains the year before. After a four-year stretch of being one of the best closers in baseball Melancon has a 3.86 ERA and just 14 saves in two years with the Giants, and is owed $38 million over the next two years.

Last offseason the Rockies gave Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw three year deals worth a combined $79 million. Earning $18 million this year, Davis is currently set to make the third-most for a relief pitcher next year.

Shaw turned out his worst season in the big leagues with a 5.93 ERA in 61 games, the fewest since his rookie year. Davis led the league in saves and games finished, but had a 4.13 ERA, his worst since 2013.

Coors Field plays a factor into those inflated numbers, but Shaw still had a 5.10 ERA on the road and Davis an ERA of 3.55.

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Last year the Twins gave Addison Reed a two-year deal worth $16.75 million and he turned a season with his worst ERA since his sophomore season at 4.50.

The Phillies can certainly pay the big name guys, but unfortunately for a talented class of relief pitchers, history isn’t on their side when it comes to teams signing them to massive contracts.

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