Corey Knebel: B
Corey Knebel is a big risk with an even bigger price tag. The Phillies are paying him $10M for one season, even though he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2018 and missed the entire 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Dating back to 2020, Knebel has made 42 appearances, including four starts, five games finished, and he’s earned three saves. This stands in stark contrast to his pre-TJ pitching, when he finished 77 games and earned 55 saves for the Milwaukee Brewers between 2017-18.
It’s also unclear how effective he’ll be as a closer – his expected role – as he spent most of 2021 as Kenley Jansen’s backup in Los Angeles. I would’ve preferred signing Jansen, who joined the Atlanta Braves for $16M, instead. It’s unfortunate that the Knebel signing happened before the lockout; since the Phillies decided last week to finally exceed the luxury tax for the first time in franchise history, going a bit pricier for World Series champion closer like Jansen would have been the optimal move, but they had already committed quite a bit of money to several other relievers.
Kent Emanuel: B+
I actually really like the Kent Emanuel addition. The Phillies claimed Emanuel off waivers from the Houston Astros, and the team change added to the already significant chip on the rookie pitcher’s shoulder.
Emanuel tested positive for an extremely small amount of a performance-enhancing substance in 2020, and received a hefty suspension for it, though he made a strong case that he was innocent. The suspension delayed his MLB debut; when it finally happened in 2021, he wore the number zero, saying it represents the number of games he should have been suspended.
When the Phillies claimed him last fall, he said he’s ready to prove his former organization made a “mistake.” We love a fired-up pitcher with something to prove. Hopefully, he really brings that energy to the Phillies, whose bullpen was seriously lacking in that kind of energy last season.