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As Dave Dombrowski and the Philadelphia Phillies continue to shape up their roster for Spring Training (which is right around the corner!), a handful of minor-league deals with invites to camp were announced on Tuesday morning. This list included RHP Bryan Mitchell, RHP David Paulino, and of course RHP Hector Rondon.
If Rondon sounds like a familiar name to you – good, he should. A 32 year old veteran reliever who has been pitching in the major leagues for the last eight years, Rondon is someone who should be turning some heads as the Phillies gear up for the 2021 season. Considering the shape of the team’s bullpen at the moment, Rondon is the the type of arm who could definitely end up cracking the Opening Day roster..
Hector Rondon is the perfect buy-low candidate for the Philadelphia Phillies.
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Prior to the 2020 season, Rondon was one of the more reliable right-handed relievers in the MLB. He posted a 3.22 ERA across 296.1 innings for the Chicago Cubs between 2013 and 2017, and played a key role in the Houston Astros bullpen in 2018 and 2019 (3.46 ERA across 119.2 innings). Rondon was primarily used as a closer during his days with the Cubs, and then slotted into a middle-relief role with the Astros.
Despite his previous career success, Rondon had a horrifically brutal 2020 campaign. He posted a 7.65 ERA across 20 innings with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and his WHIP skyrocketed to a career-worst 1.800. It was a frustrating stretch of games for the veteran, one that ultimately led to him getting little to no attention on the open market in free agency this winter.
With that in mind, Rondon is still a very good candidate to buy low on this offseason. He’s just one year removed from a 2019 season where he was definitely serviceable (3.71 ERA), and his velocity hasn’t really started to decrease quite yet. According to Fangraphs, Rondon’s average fastball velocity was 95.8 mph last season, only 0.9 below his career average.
Rondon is a veteran arm who has pitched for two very good ball clubs (Cubs, Astros); possessing a plethora of postseason experience. He obviously played a role in the Cubs bullpen when they won the World Series back in 2016, and he logged a couple innings for the Astros during their 2018 and 2019 playoff runs.
On a minor-league deal, signing Rondon essentially comes with zero risk. He’s not eating up an official roster spot quite yet, and he’ll only cost the Philadelphia Phillies actual money should he earn a spot in the bullpen during camp.
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At 32 years of age, coming off a brutal 2020 campaign, there’s definitely a chance that Rondon is completely cooked. However, taking into account his strong resume, his postseason experience, and his steady velocity, my money is on him bouncing back and ultimately earning himself a spot on the Phillies roster come Opening Day.