The Milwaukee Brewers have made another addition to their roster, signing free agent reliever David Phelps to a contract.
Brewers GM David Stearns is not quite done tinkering with this roster ahead of spring training. He’s signed free agent righty David Phelps to a contract for the 2020 season.
Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the signing on Wednesday.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 29, 2020
Mark Feinsand also added that Phelps is signed to a one-year contract with a club option for 2021. Feinsand also has revealed the financial details of the deal.
David Phelps will earn $1.25 million in 2020 with up to $1.9 million in performance bonuses based on appearances, per source. Phelps’ 2021 club option is worth $4.5 million ($250K buyout), also with $1.9 million in performance bonuses based on appearances. #Brewers
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 29, 2020
The 40 man roster was full, which means someone will have to be DFA’ed to make room for Phelps on the roster.
Who Is David Phelps?
Phelps has had a long career as a reliever in the big leagues, most recently pitching for the Blue Jays and Cubs in 2019, posting a 3.41 ERA in 41 appearances. He missed all of 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Prior to that, Phelps was in Seattle for a few games at the end of 2017, spending the previous three seasons in Miami. He began his career with the Yankees in 2012.
Over his career, Phelps has a 3.86 ERA with a 3.92 FIP and 8.5 K/9. He’s been a solid, if unspectacular reliever over the past seven seasons. He’s posted a sub-3.50 ERA over his last three campaigns.
Typically, Phelps has been a 7th or 8th inning guy, and he gives Craig Counsell another veteran arm out of that bullpen that can be used in a variety of situations. It appears likely however, that Phelps will be a setup guy for closer Josh Hader.
Phelps has a three pitch arsenal, throwing a fastball, cutter, and curveball regularly. His fastball topped out at 94 MPH in 2017 prior to his elbow surgery. In 2019, his velocity was down to 92 MPH and he relied on his fastball a lot less. His fastball usage was down to 42.7% in 2019, the lowest of his career, and he upped his curveball usage to 27.8% from 19.3% in 2017.
The contract for Phelps is similar to the contracts the Brewers have given out all offseason: one year deals with a club option for 2021. By doing this, the Milwaukee Brewers keep flexibility heading into next offseason, with the ability to move on from any players that didn’t play well or keep the ones that did for what would likely be a discount. This’ll keep the long-term money open for a contract extension for Christian Yelich or signing another big time player in free agency.
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It can be incredibly frustrating to watch the Brewers pass up deals for well known star players and instead sign under the radar guys to one year deals, but this is what the Brewers front office sees as the best path forward.