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Blue Jays ink Phelps to 1-year, $2.5 million deal

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 31: David Phelps #46 of the Seattle Mariners throws in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 31, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images) (Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
January 10, 2019

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays signed right-hander David Phelps to a one-year, $2.5 million contract with a club option for 2020 on Saturday.According to MLB.com sources, the deal includes a series of creative incentives. The total value for 2019 could reach $5.75 million while the team option will be valued

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays signed right-hander David Phelps to a one-year, $2.5 million contract with a club option for 2020 on Saturday.
According to MLB.com sources, the deal includes a series of creative incentives. The total value for 2019 could reach $5.75 million while the team option will be valued anywhere from $1 million to $8 million.
The incentives for 2019 work as follows: Phelps will receive $125,000 each for 25 and 30 games finished and $250,000 each for 35 and 40 games finished. On top of those incentives is another layer, which involves $250,000 each for 25, 30 and 35 appearances and $350,000 each for 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60 appearances.
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The option in 2020 will be worth $1 million if Phelps appears in fewer than 30 games this season, $3 million if he appears between 31-39, $5 million for 40-49, $7 million for more than 50 and fewer than 40 games finished, and $8 million if more than 50 appearances and more than 40 games finished.
The complicated structure seems to make a lot of sense for both sides. Toronto built in some added protection as Phelps continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery, which was performed in March of 2017. Phelps receives guaranteed money up front with the possibility of making quite a bit more if the Blue Jays eventually trade closer Ken Giles.
Phelps, 32, made his last big league appearance in 2017, when he posted a 3.40 ERA for the Marlins and Mariners. He offers plenty of swing-and-miss potential with 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings but also 4.2 walks per nine innings. Over a six-year career, he owns a 3.89 ERA in 228 appearances.
The Blue Jays had been looking for another set-up man to join right-hander Dennis Tepera in front of Giles at the back end of the bullpen. Toronto is expected to add another relief arm or two before Opening Day, following the departures of Seunghwan Oh, John Axford, Tyler Clippard and Aaron Loup from last year's bullpen.
Other relievers in the mix for a spot this spring are lefty Tim Mayza along with right-handers Joe Biagini, Danny Barnes, Rule 5 pick Elvis Luciano, David Paulino and Jacob Waguespack. Phelps is one of the more proven names on that list and should have no trouble finding a late-inning role if he proves healthy early in the year.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.