Mujica, Bailey on relief pitching carousel

tabs-bullpenThe Phillies relief pitching corps is a carousel, because now A.J. Achter has hopped off and Edward Mujica and Andrew Bailey have hopped on.

Today the Phils announced they signed Mujica and Bailey to minor-league contracts with invitations to spring training.

Mujica, a 31-year-old and 10-year veteran, has pitched for six teams, recording a 3.85 career ERA with 423 strikeouts and 89 walks. In 2015 between Boston and Oakland he went 3-5 with a 4.75 ERA, 30 strikeouts and seven walks in 47.1 innings.

Bailey, a native of Haddonfield, N.J., was one of the top relievers in baseball in his first two seasons (2009, ’10) before experiencing setbacks and injury over the past few seasons. Most recently, with the Yankees, Bailey went 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA, six strikeouts and five walks in just 8.2 innings.

Both righties will have an opportunity to win a bullpen job out of spring training; Mujica would have the upper hand, simply as he’s historically been able to stick as a substantial piece in a major league bullpen.

Meanwhile the Angels have claimed Achter, who the Phillies brought in about a month ago. That was a fun time.

For those keeping track, here are the relievers on the Phils’ 40-man roster:


  • Edward Mujica (signed as a free agent)
  • Andrew Bailey (signed as a free agent)
  • Ernesto Frieri (signed as a free agent)
  • Dan Otero (claimed off waivers from Oakland; designated for assignment)
  • James Russell (signed as a free agent)
  • Greg Infante (signed as a free agent)
  • Frank Hermann (non-roster invite)
  • Reiner Roibal (non-roster invite)

It’s anybody’s guess as to how the 2016 bullpen will shake out, but for now the strategy is to collect two kinds of assets: low-cost, low-risk, low- to medium-reward veterans; and cost-controlled homegrown arms who may have yet to reach peak value. For 2016 the Phillies don’t need a slam-dunk bullpen, so collecting these low-risk assets is the right way to go. The focus should still be on developing a core for 2016 and beyond; once that’s set, then the job of assembling a championship bullpen will become more important.

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