Phillies Sign Bailey & Mujica

The Phillies have signed veteran right-handed relievers Andrew Bailey and Edward Mujica to minor league deals with invitations to big league Spring Training, putting a ribbon on a total bullpen overhaul that shifts the team from a homegrown crew to a grab bag of reclamation projects and newer, shinier organizational arms. Bailey is a Proven Closer who began his career in Oakland, but has dealt with a litany of injuries and hasn’t pitched more than 40 innings in a season since 2011. Mujica saved 37 games for the Cardinals in 2013, thus earning the Proven Closer tag as well, but has spent most of his career as a 7th/8th inning guy. The two newest Phillies, who were born three weeks apart in 1984, will compete for late-inning duties with David Hernandez and Ernesto Frieri, also recently signed by the Klentak regime.

Bailey (@AndrewBailey40) was born in Voorhees, New Jersey, and is an alumnus of Paul VI High School in Haddonfield. I always find it fascinating when local athletes sign with the Philadelphia teams, and/or when fans clamor for local boys to come home. I sort of understand the appeal of having someone to root for who’s From Here, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. If a player is a local, and he doesn’t perform to expectations, he’s likely to receive an extra helping of Brotherly Love. Bailey has a tough road ahead, as he’s been on the shelf for most of the last two seasons after enduring shoulder surgery in 2013. He didn’t pitch at all in 2014, and made his 2015 debut in September with the Yankees. Bailey’s upcoming season will be intriguing. If he can make a Ryan Madson-esque comeback from a major injury, he could be a valuable piece in the Phillies’ bullpen, which would make for a great story. However, the former All-Star and Rookie of the Year has a significant chance of not making the cut if his stuff is as diminished as one would expect after shoulder surgery.

Mujica, conversely, has been quite durable throughout his career. The Venezuelan righty has logged at least 40 innings in every season since 2009, averaging 63 appearances per year. His K% has declined annually for five straight seasons, but his splitter is still a moderately effective weapon, as his groundball percentage has remained relatively steady. Mujica, recently of the Red Sox and Athletics, may welcome a return to the National League, where he has enjoyed more success in his career than in the Junior Circuit. His alarming 17.5% home run to fly ball percentage from 2015 may be a sign of declining stuff, or could merely be an outlier. After all, Mujica – a former All-Star as well – is still just 31 years old.

These signings come with zero risk and, correspondingly, little upside. There’s nothing to dislike about these moves though, as it adds to the bullpen competition and gives Pete Mackanin a lot of options to evaluate in Clearwater. It’s possible that the Phillies can catch lightning in a bottle with one of the new four horsemen, but the chance for more than one or two of these arms to pan out seems low. My money is on David Hernandez to have the most success of the group and likely lead the charge in the ninth inning until Jimmy Cordero finds his control. It would be a surprise to see all four on the big league team in April, but stranger things have happened.

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9 comments

  1. dls

    December 17, 2015 02:02 PM

    Klentak continues his series of intelligent moves. Love it. A GM with both a clue, and a plan. What a novel refreshing change of pace!

    • JustBob

      December 19, 2015 08:42 PM

      How are these ‘intelligent moves?’ He is just picking up a ton of relievers off the waiver wire because the Phils have so few worthwhile internal options ready to compete come spring training.

      They are just doing it because this team is quite content to be bad again next year (90+ losses) while they continue the rebuilding process during 2016 and 2017.

      • Steve

        December 20, 2015 09:52 AM

        They are intelligent because they brought in a wide variety of cloaing experience that is relatively inexpensive and requires zero committment of future roster spots. Im not sure what your hopes are for 2016 but what particular moves would you have rather seen them do?

  2. Tom

    December 17, 2015 02:36 PM

    I’m genuinely curious how the saves break out for the Phillies in 2016. Will any of these reclamation projects turn into a decent option out of the pen. I hope so, and then I hope they get flipped for more lottery tickets.

    • Romus

      December 17, 2015 03:18 PM

      I also feel that way.
      Plus, will this team have the opportunity often times to be in save situations!
      These injury reliever reclamation projects could have a rather fortuitous path to full recovery.
      Not experiencing the pressures of save situations but getting more action in mop up rolls.

  3. Peter

    December 17, 2015 04:30 PM

    My money is on Luis Garcia being the best closer option, but the team might try to limit his saves stats to keep any arb awards down. However jacking up Garcia’s saves would make him a pretty decent trade chip at the deadline.

    • JustBob

      December 19, 2015 08:44 PM

      Garcia wasn’t a favorite of Mackanin last year in high leverage spots. They are paying Hernandez $4M and he’ll be the closer coming out of spring training unless he is hurt.

      Agree that Hernandez won’t have a long leash though and if he struggles into May he easily could lose his closer’s role.

  4. Mark

    December 17, 2015 11:13 PM

    Hinojosa….above average in the pen last year, yet not much talk about him sticking. Someone explain ?

    • Steve

      December 18, 2015 07:15 AM

      I believe Corinne touched on this. He doesnt have the past success of guys like Mujica Bailey Frieri, and doesnt have the youth to be considered a prospect. Im sure he will be given every opportunity to earn a spot in ’16, and i wouldnt be suprised if he has a good season.

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