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PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies might have found a new closer for 2021.
Right-hander Archie Bradley and the club on Monday finalized a one-year, $6 million deal that was first reported on Thursday. Bradley, 28, has a 2.95 ERA and 28 saves in 221 appearances over the past four seasons with Arizona and Cincinnati. He earned a career-high 18 saves with the D-backs in 2019.
Shortly after the news broke on Thursday, Bradley tweeted a GIF of Rocky Balboa atop the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“Mood,” he wrote.
— Archie Bradley (@ArchieBradley7) January 14, 2021
Bradley upgrades a Phillies bullpen that badly needs help. It posted a 7.06 ERA last season, the second-highest mark in history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Only six bullpens in the past 20 years had 60-game stretches worse than the 2020 Phillies: 2003 Royals (7.14 ERA), 2019 Orioles (7.15 ERA), 2007 Orioles (7.32 ERA), 2007 White Sox (7.77 ERA), 2010 D-backs (7.77 ERA) and 2007 Rays (8.11 ERA).
Phillies manager Joe Girardi now has three pitchers with closing experience in his bullpen: Bradley, right-hander Héctor Neris (72 career saves) and left-hander José Alvarado (15 career saves), although Alvarado has battled injuries the past two seasons. Right-hander Sam Coonrod, whom the Phillies acquired earlier this month in a trade with the Giants, earned three saves in the final month of the 2020 season. The Phillies also are optimistic about the potential of right-hander Connor Brogdon and left-hander JoJo Romero, who showed flashes of dominance in 2020.
The Phillies still need help, though.
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It is unclear whether the Phillies will pursue another back-end bullpen piece or whether they will look for complementary arms. The Phillies expressed interest in other late-inning relievers before they agreed to terms with Bradley, including free agent Alex Colomé. The Phillies remain engaged with free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Didi Gregorius, whom they would like to bring back. They have other holes to fill, too, which is why Bradley fit on a one-year, $6 million deal.
Bradley went 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in 18 1/3 innings last season with the D-backs and Reds. Cincinnati did not tender him a contract in December, making him a free agent. Bradley struck out 18 and walked three. He mostly throws a four-seam fastball and curveball, but he also has a changeup and sinker.
Bradley is the first Major League free-agent signing by the Phillies this offseason. Previously, they acquired Alvarado in a three-way trade with the Rays and Dodgers and Coonrod in a trade with the Giants. The Phillies claimed right-handers Ian Hamilton and Johan Quezada off waivers and selected infielder Kyle Holder in the Rule 5 Draft. They avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to one-year contracts with catcher Andrew Knapp ($1.1 million) and right-handers Seranthony Domínguez ($727,500), Zach Eflin ($4.45 million), David Hale ($850,000) and Neris ($5 million).
To clear room on the 40-man roster, the Phillies designated outfielder Kyle Garlick for assignment. Garlick had a .356 OPS in 23 plate appearances last season.