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Phils ink relievers Bailey, Mujica to Minors deals

Right-handers also invited to Major League Spring Training

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies entered last season with a mostly inexperienced bullpen, other than closer Jonathan Papelbon. Next season could look a little different.

The Phillies on Thursday announced they have signed right-handers Andrew Bailey and Edward Mujica to Minor League contracts with invitations to Spring Training. It continues a trend of the Phils acquiring veteran relievers at a relatively minimal cost. They previously signed David Hernandez to a one-year, $3.9 million contract, but they also signed Ernesto Frieri and James Russell to Minor League contracts and claimed Michael Mariot off waivers from the Royals.

Hot Stove Tracker: Free agents and trades

Bailey, 31, grew up in southern New Jersey and attended Paul VI High School in Haddonfield. He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award with the A's in 2009, and he made the AL All-Star team in 2009 and '10. But a shoulder injury has limited Bailey to just 59 games in the previous four seasons, including 10 last season with the Yankees.

Bailey posted a 1.80 ERA in 28 appearances in the Minor Leagues in 2015 before posting a 5.19 ERA with New York. Before injuries hit, he had a 2.07 ERA with 75 saves in 84 chances from 2009-11.

"I'm super excited for the opportunity, and to be healthy and compete for a spot in the bullpen," Bailey said in a telephone interview Thursday with "I grew up watching the Phillies from the days at the Vet. Being from South Jersey, you dream of playing for the Phillies. Hopefully that opportunity comes to fruition."

Bailey said he is healthy and will have no restrictions when Spring Training opens in February.

"I feel 100 percent ready to go," Bailey said. "There is a lot to build on from last year, just getting back to the big leagues and getting my feet wet again. It was kind of like my first September callup again."

Mujica, 31, went 3-5 with a 4.75 ERA and one save in 49 appearances last season with the Red Sox and A's. He made the National League All-Star team with the Cardinals in 2013 and has a 3.85 ERA in 494 appearances in his career.

Who are the candidates to be Phillies' closer?

The recent bullpen additions should create plenty of competition in Spring Training. Besides Hernandez, Bailey, Mujica, Frieri, Russell and Mariot, the Phillies return Elvis Araujo, Luis Garcia, Jeanmar Gomez, Dalier Hinojosa, Mario Hollands, Hector Neris and others. They also selected left-hander Daniel Stumpf last week in the Rule 5 Draft.

It is worth nothing that recently acquired Brett Oberholtzer is a candidate for a rotation job, but if he does not start, he seems like a favorite to make the bullpen, because he is out of options. Gomez also is out of options.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said earlier this week that he has received calls from players looking for an opportunity to close since Ken Giles was traded to the Astros, so the possibility exists that Philadelphia could bring more veterans into camp.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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