The Phillies made their first acquisition of the offseason on Friday by claiming reliever Ryan Sherriff off waivers from Tampa Bay.
Sheriff, a 31-year-old left-hander, posted a 5.52 ERA last season in 16 big-league appearances with 16 strikeouts and nine walks in 14⅔ innings. He relies heavily on his slider and his sinker sits in the low-90s. Sheriff can still be optioned to the minors, which makes him an attractive option if he can stay on the 40-man roster this offseason.
Sherriff has pitched in parts of four big-league seasons with the Cardinals and Rays and missed the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He did not allow a run in 2020 over 10 appearances and pitched two scoreless innings in the World Series against the Dodgers. Sherriff left the Rays for two weeks early last season to focus on his mental health.
“Going through all the COVID stuff and the isolations and all of that, I just needed some time away to get my life together,” Sherriff told reporters in June when he returned. “...I just felt like I was in an extremely dark place, and I felt as if it wasn’t fair to my teammates to continue being there if I wasn’t mentally there. I’m glad that I took those two weeks to get my mind right, and to focus on myself and learn how to have fun again.”
The Phillies’ bullpen finished last season with the sixth-highest ERA (4.60) and sixth-highest batting average against (.246) in baseball. They’re in the market this offseason for a closer and will add a handful of arms to complement returning relievers like Connor Brogdon, Jose Alvarado, Sam Coonrod, Seranthony Dominguez, and Bailey Falter.
Hector Neris became a free agent on Wednesday and could return after excelling once he was pushed out of the ninth inning. They’ll be busy this winter reshaping their bullpen and more moves like adding Sheriff — a low-cost waiver claim — can be expected.