The baseball community, and specifically the fantasy baseball community, has been waiting for a team to embrace Archie Bradley, Proven Closer for years.
The Diamondbacks wouldn't, until they did, until they didn't again.
The Reds didn't, even after they traded their own Proven Closer, Raisel Iglesias, to the Angels a few days earlier.
Now it's the Phillies' turn. The team and the reliever were reported late Thursday to be in agreement on a one-year, $6 million deal, pending a physical.
Bradley joins a Phillies bullpen that was pretty terrible in 2020 but which has since added Jose Alvarado and Sam Coonrod along with the 28-year-old right-hander. Holdovers Hector Neris and Connor Brogdon also add some length to the pen.
In Bradley, the Phillies add a reliever who has long posted strong numbers -- he hasn't registered an ERA above 3.64 in a season since 2016 -- but who has struggled to gain his team's confidence in the highest-leverage role. Despite pitching well, he's only earned 28 saves over the past four seasons, with 18 coming in 2019 alone.
Neris saved 28 games for the Phillies as recently as 2019 but earned just five saves for the club last season while posting a 4.57 ERA (fueled in part by a .381 BABIP and unsustainably low 59.5 percent LOB%). After a midseason trade with the Red Sox, Brandon Workman earned five saves to Neris' three.
Without knowing the team's plans, it should be assumed both Bradley and Neris will be given the chance to earn the closer role in spring. Either player grabbing hold of the job would make him plenty valuable for fantasy purposes, but without an inkling on who that will be, it makes it hard to target either in drafts before spring.
Giants add Wood to hot stove
The Giants are constructing a Reds reunion in their starting rotation.
A few weeks after inking Anthony DeSclafani to a deal, and with former Reds Johnny Cueto and Kevin Gausman already in tow, the Giants added more Cincinnati flavor Thursday with the signing of free-agent reliever Alex Wood. The southpaw and the club came to an agreement on a one-year, $3 million deal that includes the potential to earn an additional $3 million in performance bonuses tied to games pitched in which he recorded ten outs or greater.
The details of the contract strongly suggest he'll be a member of the Giants' rotation after splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen as a member of the Dodgers in 2020. The 30-year-old put up a 6.39 ERA in nine games, including two starts, for the Giants' division rivals.
Those surface stats aren't impressive, but Wood has had success in recent memory and has the tools to do so again in San Francisco. That's especially true with a progressive organization such as the Giants, which had success unlocking Gausman's potential in a stellar 2020 showing.
It's not the kind of investment fantasy players in standard mixed leagues should be looking to make, at least in drafts, but those in the kind of increasingly popular best-ball and draft-and-hold leagues could do worse than a late-round dart throw at Wood finding his groove at Oracle Park. Fire away.
Kluber bidding nearing 'conclusion'
Teams looking for another redemption project may add one by the end of the weekend.
The bidding for free-agent starter Corey Kluber, who's looking for a new club after missing most of the past two seasons due to injury, "will likely reach a conclusion by this weekend," ESPN's Buster Olney reported Thursday. According to reports, as many as 60 scouts representing about 25 teams were present at Kluber's Wednesday showcase for teams.
At that showcase, the 34-year-old threw all of his pitches and sat 88-90 mph with his fastball, it's been reported. The workout came roughly six months after Kluber suffered a Grade 2 teres major muscle strain in his throwing shoulder in the Rangers' third game of the 2020 season.
A fractured arm and oblique injury limited the right-hander to 35 2/3 innings in 2019 as well, but of course, prior to that Kluber was one of the game's premier pitchers. From 2014 to 2018, Kluber made 160 starts with a 2.85 ERA, 1.016 WHIP and 1,228 strikeouts in 1,091 1/3 innings of work.
A lot of his value in 2021 will depend on where he lands -- given the frosty landscape we've seen this offseason, though, it's hard to imagine a bottom-dweller throwing enough money at Kluber to outbid more serious contenders -- but in the right spot Kluber is a very attractive bounce-back candidate for fantasy players. With as many as 25 teams represented it's hard to know where the wind might blow this weekend, but clubs like the Mets, Nationals and Twins were among those specifically linked to the workout in recent days.
Quick Hits: Padres general manager A.J. Preller met with Fernando Tatis Jr. last week in the Dominican Republic, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The main topic at hand was presumably a long-term contract extension. Rosenthal says the Padres "are optimistic they can reach agreement with Tatis and his agent, Dan Lozano, before Opening Day" ... Andy Martino of SNY reports that the Mets are still interested in reliever Brad Hand. Hand, 30, is reportedly talking to numerous teams about multi-year deals, and while it's not clear what the Mets are talking about, it wouldn't be a surprising if New York was one of those clubs. Non-tendered because Cleveland isn't going to pay someone if they don't have to, Hand posted a 2.05 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 29/4 K/BB ratio in his 22 innings while leading MLB relievers in saves with 16. The relief market is one of the few areas that's actually moving, so a deal for Hand could be coming (relatively) quickly ... Yadier Molina told Polo Ascencio of La Vida Baseball that he may consider retirement if he doesn't receive the right offer. “If God wants me to come back, then I'll come back," said Molina. "And if not I will retire happy with my head held high" ... Jim Bowden of The Athletic reports that the Phillies, Reds, Red Sox and Athletics "have all been involved to some extent" in negotiations with Marcus Semien. Bowden adds that "there are probably more clubs interested" in the free agent infielder, but the four listed are the ones he knows of so far ... A rival executive tells MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that he would be "shocked" if Andrew Benintendi is not traded before the end of this weekend. We've seen growing buzz in recent days about a move involving Benintendi, with the Rangers, Astros, and Athletics being floated Tuesday as some of the possible suitors. Miami was known to have serious interest but apparently had trouble lining up a return package to Boston's liking ... According to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, the market for free agent Marcell Ozuna "has begun to take shape in recent days." There is still no resolution as to whether the universal DH will remain intact for 2021, but Morosi's source says "both AL and NL teams are involved" in the Ozuna bidding and that some clubs are "comfortable with him as an everyday left fielder" ... Morosi also confirms that free agent starter Cole Hamels intends to pitch in 2021. It's been a quiet offseason so far for the veteran left-hander, who was limited to one start with the Braves in 2020 due to lingering shoulder and triceps issues, but he is apparently planning to stage a workout for scouts at some point in the near future ... According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Padres are still "doing background work" on multiple free agent starters, including Masahiro Tanaka. The rotation wouldn't seem to be an area of need for San Diego after the additions of Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, but Rosenthal suggests that there may be more concern than the team is letting on about the health of Dinelson Lamet, who did not pitch in the 2020 postseason due to a biceps injury. Darvish and Tanaka are longtime friends, and current Padres pitching coach Larry Rothschild was Tanaka's first pitching coach with the Yankees ... Matt Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Phillies have interest in free agent shortstop Freddy Galvis. Philadelphia has also shown interest in bringing back Didi Gregorius, with Andrelton Simmons along with Marcus Semien -- among others -- also possible options ... Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports that Pedro Baez and the Astros are in agreement on a two-year contract. Baez might be next in line for saves in Houston behind Ryan Pressly ... Mets signed 1B/OF Jose Martinez to a one-year split contract. The deal will pay him $1 million, with another $500,000 in available incentives, if he is able to crack the Mets' major league roster. The 32-year-old can be a DH option in Queens if that rule sticks around in the National League ... a few teams and players avoided arbitration ahead of the deadline: Dodgers and RHP Corey Knebel (one-year, $5.25 million); Tigers and RHP Michael Fulmer (one-year, $3.1 million); and Rockies and RHP Mychal Givens (one-year, $4.05 million).