Posted on December 11, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Pat Neshek enjoyed his time in Philadelphia so much last season that he just couldn’t stay away. Neshek and the Phillies have agreed to a two-year worth at least $16 million for the reliever to be able to return to the City of Brotherly Love. An official announcement is expected to occur at some point during the MLB Winter Meetings this week in Orlando.
The Phillies acquired Neshek in a trade with the Houston Astros last winter, and the 37-year old ended up having one of his best seasons. In 43 appearances with the Phillies, Neskek was 1-2 with a 1.12 ERA. However, with the Phillies out of contention midway through the season, they wisely flipped him to the Colorado Rockies in July. Neshek continued to pitch well for the Rockies, helping them secure a wild-card spot. But upon hitting free agency this winter, Neshek always had his eye on a return to Philadelphia.
“I’d love to come back maybe down the road,” Neshek said last summer the day after he was traded to Colorado. “That’d probably be my No. 1 place.”
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Now on a two-year deal, it’s unlikely that the Phillies will be so quick to trade Neshek this summer. The Phillies are also hoping that their young core of players allows them to become competitive within the next two seasons. That could make Neshek an important part of the Philadelphia bullpen when they finally become a competitive team again.
Bullpens are typically the final part of a roster to fall into place for rebuilding teams. With Neshek coming back, the Phillies are hoping he will help solidify that part of their team in case their young players develop quicker than expected.
At the moment, the Phillies have a relatively young bullpen. That could open the door for Neshek to become the team’s closer next season. Neshek undoubtedly out-performed all of Philadelphia’s other reliever relievers last season. With Neshek now under contract for two seasons, it could make sense for the Phillies to make him their closer. However, the Phillies may prefer to keep Hector Neris in that role. Neris had 26 saves in 29 opportunities with a 3.01 ERA last year.
The Phillies are also likely to continue adding to their bullpen this offseason. Even with Neshek on board, Philadelphia would prefer to have more proven relievers. After all, the Phillies have a rotation made up almost entirely of young pitchers who are still trying to prove themselves in the big leagues. If they have any chance of being competitive in 2018, they’ll need a strong bullpen that can hold onto leads.
“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,” Phillies GM Matt Klentak said earlier this offseason.
The Phillies haven’t been connected to any of the top-flight relievers on the free-agent market this season, so where they go from here is anybody’s guess. However, it’s been reported that the Phillies would like to make a splash this winter. That leaves the door open for Philadelphia to build off the signing of Neshek and continue to improve their bullpen.