MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are in talks with free-agent reliever Neftali Feliz, sources confirmed Saturday.The veteran right-hander would help fill Milwaukee's need for late-inning relief. Brewers general manager David Stearns declined to comment on reports suggesting that the sides had momentum toward an agreement.The first reports linking Feliz to Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are in talks with free-agent reliever Neftali Feliz, sources confirmed Saturday.
The veteran right-hander would help fill Milwaukee's need for late-inning relief. Brewers general manager David Stearns declined to comment on reports suggesting that the sides had momentum toward an agreement.
The first reports linking Feliz to Milwaukee came from the Dominican Republic, where several baseball people Tweeted that he could sign a contract in the $6-6.5 million range, presumably for one year. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman later reported that Feliz, who pitched for the Pirates in 2016, was indeed nearing a deal with Milwaukee.
Heyman later cited sources saying several teams remained in the mix for Feliz, but the Brewers "remained the clear frontrunner."
Feliz, 28, posted a 3.52 ERA in 62 appearances for the Pirates last season, but he has a checkered medical history, so a physical exam would be a notable prerequisite for any team signing him. That process could delay a formal announcement of his signing with the Brewers or any other club by several business days.
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The former Rangers closer was the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year Award winner and pitched parts of seven seasons in Texas, including on the team's '10 and '11 World Series clubs. But he underwent Tommy John surgery in '12, and he missed most of the next season as a result, then spent more time on the disabled list in '14 and '15 with various ailments before being released.
Feliz signed with the Tigers in July 2015 and posted a 7.62 ERA in 30 appearances. In '16, his age-28 season, Feliz joined a long list of pitchers to revive their careers in Pittsburgh. His 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings were his best mark since his 31-inning debut season with the Rangers in '09, and his average fastball velocity topped 96 mph for the first time since pre-surgery. The Pirates were careful with Feliz's workload, limiting him to 53 2/3 innings, and he did not pitch after exiting a Sept. 3 appearance against the Brewers with arm discomfort.
Before that injury, the Pirates and Feliz's representatives discussed a multiyear contract extension but couldn't come to terms, according to MLB.com's Adam Berry. Feliz became a free agent at season's end, joining a sizable group of relievers with closing experience who were of interest to the Brewers.
The Brewers have been in that market since trading Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith at the non-waiver Trade Deadline last summer, then dealing Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox in December. On Friday, Stearns said he was still actively seeking relievers, both in free agency and via trades.
Assuming Feliz passes a physical and the contract is completed, he could compete to close games for manager Craig Counsell. The in-house options for the ninth inning include Corey Knebel, Carlos Torres and Jacob Barnes, none of whom have more than two Major League saves.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.