The Phillies continued to patch up last season’s beleaguered bullpen Monday by taking low-risk chances on relievers Neftali Feliz and Michael Ynoa.
The right-handers — along with catcher Christian Bethancourt and infielder Ronald Torreyes — will be at spring training next month on minor-league contracts. Camp remains scheduled to begin in mid-Febuary in Clearwater, Fla. Bethancourt and Torreyes were both with the Phillies last spring on minor-league deals.
Last month, the Phillies acquired left-hander Jose Alvarado from Tampa Bay and claimed righthander Ian Hamilton off waivers from Seattle.
The team’s bullpen finished last season with a 7.06 ERA, baseball’s worst mark in 90 years. But so far, the Phillies are using the same approach to build a bullpen that they applied last winter when they signed just one reliever to a major-league deal: Tommy Hunter for less than $1 million.
The Phillies are under new leadership led by president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and with a new pitching coach in Caleb Cotham. The low-risk approach failed the Phillies last season, but perhaps it could yield different results with new decision makers in place. There’s also still time for Dombrowski to sign a free-agent reliever.
Feliz, 32, last pitched in the majors in 2017 and has not pitched in affiliated baseball since 2018. Feliz has a career 3.49 ERA over 357 appearances and has a 3.07 ERA this winter in the Dominican Republic with 22 strikeouts in 14⅔ innings. He was the American League’s rookie of the year in 2010 with Texas and was the team’s closer when the Rangers reached the World Series in 2010 and 2011. Feliz converted 107 of his 128 career save chances and pitched in 2015 for Detroit when Dombrowski was the Tigers’ general manager.
Ynoa, 29, signed as an amateur free agent with Oakland in 2008 for a then franchise-record $4.25 million. He’s spent parts of just two seasons — 2016 and 2017 — in the majors and had a 4.57 ERA in 17 appearances in 2019 with Kansas City’s triple-A team. He has a 2.13 ERA this winter with 18 strikeouts in 12⅔ innings in the Dominican.
Bethancourt did not play last season in the majors, spending the summer at the Phillies’ alternate training site in Allentown. The Phillies currently have just three catchers — Andrew Knapp, Rafael Marchan, and Bethancourt — with major-league experience as J.T. Realmuto remains a free agent. Torreyes played four games last September as a utility man, reunited with Joe Girardi, his former manager with the Yankees.