The Phillies declined club options for three relievers on Friday while claiming another off waivers as they continue to overhaul their historically bad bullpen.
David Robertson ($12 million option) and David Phelps ($4.5 million option) became free agents after the Phillies declined their options, while Hector Neris remains on the 40-man roster and is arbitration eligible after the Phillies did not pick up his $7 million option for 2021.
Robertson did not pitch in 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August of 2019. He pitched in just seven games after signing a two-year contract before the 2019 season that was worth ultimately $25 million after the Phillies paid him a $2 million buyout. Phelps was acquired at the trade deadline from Milwaukee and had an 12.91 ERA in 10 appearances.
Along with losing Robertson and Phelps, the Phillies outrighted Adam Morgan, Heath Hembree, and Blake Parker from the 40-man roster. All three elected free agency. The Phillies' bullpen finished last season with baseball’s worst ERA in 90 years.
The Phillies did not place a waiver claim on Brad Hand, one of the American League’s top relievers who was let go by Cleveland, but they did claim 26-year-old Johan Quezada. Quezada pitched in three games last year with the Marlins despite never reaching double A. He has a 4.05 ERA in six minor-league seasons.
The 30-year-old Hand cleared waivers after posting a 2.05 ERA last season and leading the majors in saves. No team wanted to pick up his $10 million contract for 2021, which seems to be a precursor for how teams will spend this winter.
More cuts coming
A week after slashing their scouting department, the Phillies are planning to trim their player-development staff as they look to cut costs following a season played without fans.
The Phillies have seven domestic minor-league teams with full coaching staffs. The teams did not play in 2020 and their 2021 season remains uncertain. They trimmed seven scouts last week after a season that locked scouts out of ballparks. Phillies president Andy MacPhail said scouts and player development are the “most vulnerable” as the team reduces its workforce.
“We don’t know if we’re going to have a minor league next year. We don’t know what the scope of the minor leagues are going to be,” MacPhail said. “We don’t know if there’s going to be a team in Reading or not next year. That kind of uncertainty, we’ve never faced.”