The Phillies' bullpen was an area of weakness last season, so the club added some much needed help on Friday by acquiring former All-Star right-handed reliever Pat Neshek from the Houston Astros in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
"One of our goals for the offseason is going to be to give Pete [Mackanin] a bullpen that can really compete from one through seven," GM Matt Klentak said. "I think last year we saw for much of the season we were really competitive in save situations in the seventh, eighth and ninth with [Edubray] Ramos, [Hector] Neris and [Jeanmar] Gomez. It's a goal of ours this year to really try to be competitive with the entire bullpen.
"We really think Pat Neshek will help us in those efforts. Pat has a had a really strong three-year run. He controls the strike zone on the mound, which is something we talk about a lot. He is outstanding against righthanded hitters. We think he'll be a good fit."
Neshek, who had his club option for 2017 exercised by the Phillies, went 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 60 games (47 innings) with the Astros last season.
"Neshek's option decision was due [Saturday]. We began talking with the Astros about a week ago about the possibility of them trading him prior to exercising the option," Klentak said. "It came together today that we were able to reach an agreement."
The Phillies will pay the 36-year-old $6.5 million, which may seem like a lot for a veteran reliever on a team that's rebuilding, but since it's just a one year deal it's possible he could be a trade chip come the trade deadline.
"As far as his age is concerned, the relevance of that is tempered somewhat by the fact that it's a one-year commitment," Klentak said. "The recent track record of his performance has been pretty good. The core of our team is likely to be fairly young next year. This is not unlike what we did a year ago with Jeremy Hellickson or Charlie Morton, acquiring a player via a trade on a shorter-term commitment. We'll be hopeful that this one will work out as well as Hellickson did last year."
Neshek went 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in 47 innings (60 appearances) last season with the Astros. His 0.5 WAR last year would have tied him for second-best in the Phillies bullpen with Edubray Ramos and behind closer Hector Neris (1.2). He stifled right-handed hitters last year, holding them to a .169 average. For his career, righties have hit just .181 with a wOBA of .242.
A former sixth-round pick (2002) out of Butler, Neshek was an All-Star in 2014 while pitching for the Cardinals.
The addition of Neshek puts the Phillies' 40-man roster at 32 players, and though Klentak said this specific move doesn't bump anyone from their current role in the bullpen things may change as the roster fills out through the offseason.
"We are open to exploring the best values in the market," Klentak added. "We know that we want to get better next year. We know there are a few areas where we can do so. Adding quality arms to our bullpen is one of those areas for sure."