LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Pat Neshek said in July that he would love to rejoin the Phillies this offseason.A reunion with the right-handed reliever became official on Friday afternoon. The Phillies signed Neshek to a two-year contract, with multiple reports saying the deal is worth more than $16 million.Neshek's
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Pat Neshek said in July that he would love to rejoin the Phillies this offseason.
A reunion with the right-handed reliever became official on Friday afternoon. The Phillies signed Neshek to a two-year contract, with multiple reports saying the deal is worth more than $16 million.
Neshek's return is part of an organizational philosophy to improve the team's "run prevention" capabilities without committing tens or possibly hundreds of millions of dollars to starting pitchers before the Phillies are ready to contend. In other words, Jacob Arrieta and Yu Darvish are not in play this offseason. Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb might not be in play, either, because they also are looking for long-term contracts.
"There will come a time when we are one piece away," Klentak said. "And in that moment when we feel that we are one piece away or two pieces away, that's when we open up the wallet and we go do what we need to do. But for right now, we are on the cusp of getting to where we want to go, to developing this next young core. This is what happened with [Jimmy] Rollins and [Chase] Utley and [Ryan] Howard and [Cole] Hamels. You guys lived it. We need to give these guys a chance to become that next group."
Expect the Phillies to pursue at least one more reliever to fortify a bullpen that could include Neshek, Hector Neris, Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos, Victor Arano, Hoby Milner and Tommy Hunter.
"I think if we can run out a bullpen of seven or eight guys that are all high-leverage arms, then we can start matching up in the fifth or sixth inning," Klentak said. "If there are days when our young starters throw 100 pitches to get us through five or six innings, we shouldn't be in a position where that's taxing our bullpen because we have the ability to carry an eighth bullpen member next year.
"We shouldn't be in a position where we lose our competitiveness in the sixth inning because we should have a deep bullpen where we start throwing really good players out there early in the game. If it turns out that's the best way for us to improve our run prevention, then that's the way to do it."
• Phillies add bullpen piece in Hunter
Neshek, 37, posted a 1.12 ERA in 43 appearances with the Phillies, making the National League All-Star team before being traded to the Rockies on July 26 for three prospects: shortstop Jose Gomez and right-handers Alejandro Requena and J.D. Hammer.
Hammer is the organization's No. 30 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. The Arizona Fall League named him to its All-Prospects Team after compiling a 0.66 ERA in 13 2/3 innings.
"I'd love to come back maybe down the road," Neshek said the day of the trade. "That'd probably be my No. 1 place."
It turns out Neshek wasn't just being nice on the way out.
But the Phillies are committed to their process, and 2018 remains geared toward seeing what Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and other starters can do.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Behind stellar strike-zone command (11.5 K/BB ratio) and an ability to limit hard contact (84.2-mph average exit velocity, per Statcast™), Neshek thrived with Philadelphia and Colorado last season. The Phillies have an established stopper in Hector Neris, who converted 26 of 29 save chances with a solid 3.01 ERA, but Neshek nonetheless could provide value as a late-round option in deep mixed leagues.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.