Phillies will have plenty of options to upgrade bullpen in free agency

Liam Hendriks will be baseball's top free-agent reliever available this winter.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

While the re-signing of JT Realmuto will be a top priority for the Philadelphia Phillies, not too far behind it is the addressing of their bullpen, which was as bad as baseball has ever seen in 2020. 

Over a total of 186 innings pitched during the truncated season, the Phillies bullpen’s ERA was a league-worst 7.06. They became just the third team to finish a season with a bullpen ERA over 7.00, though it’s slightly unfair to put them in such company considering the 60-game schedule.

Regardless, they’ll be mentioned in the same breath as the 1930 Phillies (8.01 ERA) and the 1936 St. Louis Browns (7.01).

An overhaul might be too kind a word to describe what the Phillies’ bullpen needs this offseason. Luckily for them, the market is filled with options to quickly right the ship for a team that once again fell woefully short of initial postseason expectations. 

There is a crop of youngsters within the system that could bring an infusion of much-needed velocity to a stale unit.

As Dan Roche of NBC Sports Philadelphia previously noted, southpaw Damon Jones averaged 12.0 strikeouts per nine innings pitched at three levels as a starter in 2019. Mauricio Llovera, 24, maxes out at 97 mph, and Cristopher Sanchez, acquired from the Rays last year, touches 98 mph.

But youth must be flanked by experience in the late innings, especially if the Phillies want to play more meaningful games in late September and into October. 

Here are a few free-agent options for the Phillies to consider this winter:

Liam Hendriks, RHP, Oakland Athletics- Playing out in Oakland means falling under the radar sometimes, but Hendriks is an exception. There’s no denying he is one of the best relievers in baseball and one of the top free agents available this offseason. Over the last two years, he posted a 1.69 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and a 6.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Alex Colome, RHP, Chicago White Sox- The 32-year-old was lights out in 2020, posting a 0.81 ERA with 12 saves and a 0.94 WHIP. He won’t rack up a ton of strikeouts, but he is as effective a closer as you’ll find nowadays. 

Blake Treinen, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers- Injuries have seen Treinen take a step back in recent years after receiving Cy Young Award and MVP votes with the Athletics back in 2018 (80.1 innings pitched, 0.78 ERA). But the 32-year-old is trending in the right direction after a solid showing with the Dodgers in 2020, making him a notable free-agent target.

Shane Greene, RHP, Atlanta Braves- Greene had struggled with inconsistencies over his first five seasons with the Yankees and Tigers, but his ERA over the last two years with Detroit and the Braves is at 2.39 with a 1.041 WHIP.

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