Spring training is just about a month away, and the Phillies still have issues to address in their pitching staff. With the organization keen on staying below the luxury tax, they need to find some value pitching in the free agent market.
In December, the Phillies cast out their “trophy fish” rod, and were able to reel in one of the top 5 starting pitchers on the market in Zack Wheeler. Now, the Phillies projected salary sits at about $202 million, with the threshold for the luxury tax being at $208 million. The anticipation is that several minor leaguers will get their call this year (i.e. Spencer Howard, Francisco Morales, and Adonis Medina), yet there was an obvious void in production from the starters last year.
While the bullpen also struggled to maintain production, their problem was more staying healthy rather than performance.
To bolster the staff and maintain their current course of frugal spending, we look at three options for the Phillies to entertain.
Arodys Vizcaino (29, RP)
The Phillies bullpen struggled mightily at the end of games, primarily because several of their key guys (Seranthony Dominguez, Adam Morgan, Pat Neshek), and with David Robertson pitching seven games before being shelved for two years. In the 7th-8th-9th innings, the Phillies had the 10th-worst ERA (4.61), gave up the 3rd-most home runs (79), and had the 2nd-worst strikeout percentage (21.8%) in the league.
Arodys Vizcaino would fulfill all of these needs, and would likely not command the salary of a top-end reliever, given the fact he is coming off a shoulder injury that kept him out the majority of 2019.
The four prior season (2015-2018) saw Vizcaino sustain impressive statistics: 0.88 HR/9, 26.6% K%, and a 3.00 ERA, all while pitching at least 30 innings in the 7th-9th innings. The Phillies need another option in the backend of the bullpen, with both Dominguez and Morgan coming off injury, and limited options elsewhere in the bullpen. Vizcaino has experience both as a closer and as a late-game option, but struggles himself with an injury-prone label.
The velocity and violence with which he throws cause a lot of strain on his body, leading to elbow and shoulder injuries that sent him to the DL/IL or the operating room.
Yet, if his innings load was limited and he were able to stay healthy to balance out Dominguez and Morgan, he would provide a great lift to close out situations at the end of games.