Phelps another add to Phils' remade bullpen
Suárez also activated Monday to make it 5 new relievers in 10 days
PHILADELPHIA -- Joe Girardi’s new bullpen should push the Phillies into the thick of the National League postseason hunt in September.
The Phils' old bullpen could have kept them home for a ninth consecutive October.
“I think this team is in a good position to make a playoff run,” general manager Matt Klentak said after Monday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.
The Phillies acquired right-hander David Phelps from the Brewers on Monday for three players to be named later. Phelps, 33, is 2-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 12 appearances this season. He has struck out 20 and walked two in 13 innings, amassing a 0.69 WHIP. He ranks in the 95th percentile or better in baseball for hard-hit rate, strikeout rate and exit velocity, according to Statcast.
Phillies get: RHP David Phelps
Brewers get: Three PTBN (RHPs Brandon Ramey, Israel Puello and Juan Geraldo, per source)
The Phils will give up 19-year-old right-handers Brandon Ramey, Israel Puello and Juan Geraldo, a source told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. By rule, the trio cannot be named until after the season because they are not in Philadelphia's 60-man player pool. The clubs have not confirmed the players going to Milwaukee.
“It’s always good to be wanted,” Phelps told Milwaukee reporters. “I’m going to a situation where I’m playing meaningful baseball late in the season, and that’s what we look for. I was introduced to big league baseball by Joe Girardi, and I’m really looking forward to playing for him again. I get to reunite with J.T. Realmuto, who I had some of my best years of my career with [in Miami from 2015-17]. There’s a lot to like about the team I’m going to.”
“Excited about it,” Girardi said. “I just think it gives me so many more options of what to do.”
Phelps is the fourth reliever the Phillies have acquired via trade in the last 10 days. They added right-handers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree in a deal with the Red Sox and righty David Hale in a trade with the Yankees on Aug. 21.
The Phils also activated left-hander Ranger Suárez from the injured list (COVID-19) prior to Monday's series opener against the Nationals. He was 6-1 with a 3.14 ERA in 37 relief appearances last season and now makes it five new additions to Philadelphia's 10-man bullpen in the last 10 days.
The Phillies needed the help. Their bullpen had an 8.29 ERA in 22 games through Aug. 21. It has a 4.44 ERA in seven games since. Remove Hale’s first appearance since Aug. 11 on Sunday night, when he allowed three earned runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Braves, and the bullpen has a 3.65 ERA since Aug. 21.
“They’re all experienced options,” Girardi said. “Guys that have been used to pitching in the back end during playoff runs and in playoffs. It just changes the complexion of our team.
“I think [Phelps] adds another really good arm to our bullpen that has a number of weapons to use. It’s another guy that we can use late. I think when you look at our bullpen, we have options all over the place for the later innings. Sometimes, a guy might come in in the sixth that we could use in the eighth the next day.”
Workman has been the Phillies’ closer since Saturday. Neris closed previously. Others could close, too, based on availability and performance.
“He’s another guy that we can utilize at the back of the game,” Klentak said of Phelps. “On any given night, you could have Phelps or Hembree or Tommy [Hunter] setting up for Workman or Neris, or really any combination of that. Whether you’re up by a run or down by a run -- seventh, eighth, ninth -- we feel like we have guys that can pitch high-leverage innings for us.”
Phelps signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with Milwaukee this past winter, which includes a $4.5 million club option with a $250,000 buyout for 2021. Phelps pitched for Girardi with the Yankees from '12-14.
“He’s a fantastic competitor,” Girardi said. “I mean, this guy competes. And he expects to be perfect every day. He's going to grind it out every day. The other thing is, he's a guy in the past who has done multiple innings. So if you possibly needed that one day, I think you could do that as well.”
Talking or not talking with J.T.?
A report on Monday said that the Phillies have not talked to J.T. Realmuto’s agents since Spring Training was suspended on March 12. MLB.com reported in July that the sides had spoken since then. Klentak confirmed on Monday that he had spoken to Realmuto’s agents since Spring Training -- in fact, he said, they have talked since the beginning of Summer Camp in July, although he declined to say if a formal offer has been made or if negotiations continue.
“I’m not going to talk publicly about our discussions with J.T.,” Klentak said. “Because J.T. has asked for that, and in order to allow him to focus on the season and respect him, we’re going to keep this out of the public.”
The feeling remains that Realmuto will test the free-agent market this offseason. He might be the best position player available.
Bruce activated, Kingery to IL
Along with Suárez, the Phillies activated outfielder Jay Bruce from the injured list on Monday after he had been sidelined with a strained left quadriceps. The Phils also placed infielder Scott Kingery on the 10-day IL with back spasms. Right-hander Reggie McClain and catcher Deivy Grullón were designated for assignment.