General manager Matt Klentak came to the Winter Meetings with the intent of strengthening the Phillies without breaking the bank. Through Tuesday, he's done just that.
Sources confirmed to the Philadelphia Baseball Review on Wednesday morning the Phillies have a two-year deal in place with reliever Tommy Hunter. This move comes on the heels of the club bringing back reliever Pat Neshek on a two-year deal worth $16.25-million.
Hunter posted a 2.61 ERA and struck out a little over a batter an inning over 61 appearances last season with Tampa Bay.
The additions of Neshek and Hunter fall in line with Klentak's original plans heading into the off-season. The club has the financial flexibility to go after some of the prized free agents on the market, but Klentak's interest lies with manageable contracts that improve the club now while not hampering payroll into the future.
Flashy? Probably not, but it's a nice addition to the bullpen.
Manager Gabe Kapler mentioned Tuesday an interest in relying heavily on the bullpen and in the past suggested starters need to only give five or six strong innings. Klentak's moves this week to reinforce the bullpen reinforce that concept as something the Phillies intend to utilize come 2018.
If the roster remains unchanged it appears the Phillies will open the season with 13 pitchers, including potentially eight relievers.
“We’re trying to lengthen in the bullpen with multiple players who have different skill sets, different strengths and weaknesses,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. “A ground-ball guy. A strikeout guy. A lefty. A righty. Just making sure the manager has different players he can go to in different circumstances. Sometimes you might need the ground ball in the sixth. Sometimes it might be in the eighth. Sometimes it might be with traffic in the ninth. I think we need to be open-minded to all of those situations. I don’t think there’s any one set way we have to do it. We’ll adjust to the styles of our personnel.”
Kapler echoed those same sentiments on Tuesday.
"Favorable match-ups are most important, not necessarily defined roles."
The Phillies leave the Winter Meetings a better team than they were prior to arriving in Florida, plus they remain on course with the strategy they developed entering the off-season.
"It's important to improve, but it's also important to understand the cost and how to do it effectively," Klentak said.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
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