Phillies Claim Dan Otero Off Waivers from the Athletics

Dan Otero turns 31 in February and is coming off of an uninspiring year out of the bullpen for the Oakland Athletics, finishing with a 6.75 ERA and a 28/6 K/BB ratio over 46 2/3 innings. His results were much better the year prior, as he compiled a 2.28 ERA and a 45/15 K/BB ratio over a comparatively larger sample of 86 2/3 innings.

The overarching theme of Otero’s career is that he doesn’t miss bats often, but doesn’t issue walks and induces an above-average amount of ground balls. He hits 90-92 MPH with his fastball and complements that with a typical change-up, slider, curve arsenal. He lost roughly 0.5 MPH on his fastball and slider from 2014 to ’15, and his ground ball rate went from 56 percent to below 49 percent. His home run rate more than doubled, from 7.1 to nearly 15 as a percentage of fly balls.

There’s no consensus as to what Otero’s issue was last year. Melissa Lockard of OaklandClubhouse suggests it was a loss of release point. Good ol’ statistical variation is another possibility. As I’ve written here countless times, relievers are volatile because they pitch so few innings, which is why as a group their numbers are prone to violent swings from one season to the next.

Otero won’t reach arbitration eligibility until after the 2016 season, so he’ll be a cheap reliever, earning under $1 million. He has the potential to rebound and become a valuable asset in the middle innings. The Phillies do need relief depth after cutting¬†Justin De Fratus. If Otero doesn’t rebound, then the Phillies won’t have taken much of a risk at all.

The Otero waiver claim is the first acquisition of the Andy MacPhail/Matt Klentak era. It’s not flashy by any means, but at the outset, it seems savvy.

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  1. lanternface

    November 03, 2015 03:43 PM

    When the Phillies hired Klentak, I went back and listened to his appearance on the MLBTR podcast and got the impression that he sees the value in building pitching depth through waiver claims and other “under the radar” moves (his words). Not that he’s alone in that approach by any stretch, but seeing a move like this as his first seems appropriate.

    • Dante

      November 05, 2015 09:57 AM

      Not to mention he may well be very familiar with scouting Otero from working for the Angels the past few years. I think you can definitely see this claim as a product of what you describe.

  2. Shawn

    November 03, 2015 03:47 PM

    I like the move. It’ll be another down year for the Phils and if he can return to some of the form he had in the 2014 season, than he should be a solid innings eater in middle relief.

    Could potentially be a future trade asset to a playoff contender that wants to sure up their bullpen too.

  3. Romus

    November 03, 2015 04:16 PM

    Can I be safe in assuming that Pete Mack with Bob McClure’s blessing, do not take the ‘JDF usage approach’ with Otero in the first three months of the season? Would be nice to have a reliever, healthy and reliable for the first three months, as possibility a valued trade chip in July.

  4. Evan

    November 04, 2015 07:56 AM

    Ricky Otero > Dan Otero

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