The Phillies picked up where they left off before baseball’s lockout began as they continued Saturday to solidify the back of their bullpen with the signing of free-agent right-hander Jeurys Familia.
Familia made 65 appearances last season for the Mets, logging a 3.94 ERA with 10.9 strikeouts and 4.1 walks per nine innings. The one-year contract, which was first reported by FanSided, is worth $6 million and is pending a physical.
The 32-year-old has been durable as he has pitched in at least 65 games in the last three full seasons and his velocity still sat last summer in the high 90s. Familia was an All-Star closer in 2016 and saved 94 games between 2015-16. But he has just one save over the last three years, primarily working as a set-up man.
Hours before baseball owners’ imposed the lockout in December, the Phillies struck a one-year-deal with right-hander Corey Knebel. Dave Dombrowski, who will meet with the press on Sunday in Clearwater, said the Phillies did not promise Knebel the ninth-inning but did think he could close games. Early indications are that Knebel will pitch the ninth with Familia handling the eighth.
The Phillies finished last season with a 4.60 bullpen ERA (sixth worst in the majors) and blew a franchise-record 34 saves. One of the team’s main offseason priorities was to address how they would tackle the game’s final outs.
Familia was suspended for 15 games in 2017 for violating the domestic violence policy. He was arrested in October of 2016 on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge that was later dismissed. Familia was arrested after a Fort Lee, N.J., police officer “found probable cause that domestic violence had occurred.”
But Familia’s wife, Bianca Rivas, later said that the scratch on her chest was from the couple’s 1-year-old son and the mark on her right cheek was caused by herself. Rivas said the two knives found on the floor by police were used by Familia to wedge a bathroom door shut after barricading himself inside following an argument. The chargers were dropped in December of 2016.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Familia’s conduct was inappropriate and warranted discipline but “the evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm.”
“With all that has been written and discussed regarding this matter, it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening,” Familia said in a statement in March of 2017. “I did, however, act in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening.”
“My wife and I cooperated fully with Major League Baseball’s investigation, and I’ve taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have learned from this experience, and have grown as a husband, a father, and a man.”