Following on from their acquisition of free agent Taijuan Walker, the Phillies are closing in on a deal with left-handed reliever Matt Strahm, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Jeff Passan of ESPN reports it’s a two-year, $15MM deal.
Strahm, 31, pitched the last year with the Red Sox on a one-year, $3MM deal. He tossed 44 2/3 innings of 3.83 ERA ball, striking out batters at a 26.9% clip against a 8.8% walk rate. Strahm had fairly even splits, limiting left-handed hitters to a .229/.333/.354 line while right-handers hit .221/.302/.353. It represented a solid platform year for Strahm, who pitched just 6 2/3 innings for the Padres a year prior.
Initially drafted in the 21st round of the 2012 draft by the Royals, Strahm found his way to the majors in 2016. That year he pitched effectively out of their bullpen, working to a 1.23 ERA across 22 innings while striking out a well above average 34.1% of batters. The strikeouts nosedived in 2017 to 24% and the results followed, as Strahm struggled to a 5.45 ERA in 34 2/3 innings that year before ultimately winding up on the IL for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
While injured, the Royals traded him with Esteury Ruiz and Travis Wood to the Padres at the 2017 deadline in a deal for Trevor Cahill, Ryan Buchter and Brandon Maurer. He wouldn’t pitch for them until 2018, when he threw 61 1/3 innings of 2.05 ERA ball. Strahm saw his strikeout rate tick back up while posting the best walk rate (8.6%) of his career at that point.
The Padres gave him a look as a starter in 2019, and he wound up making 16 starts for the team that year. Those didn’t go so well, as Strahm pitched to a 5.29 ERA. They returned him to the bullpen and Strahm quickly found his groove again, tossing 33 innings of 3.27 ERA relief work in the second half. He continued to provide value for the Padres out of the pen in the shortened 2020 season, working to a 2.61 ERA in 20 2/3 innings.
Injuries plagued his 2021 campaign, as Strahm first dealt with a right patellar tendon repair. He returned in August that year, but a few weeks found himself shut down for the rest of the season with knee inflammation. He went to free agency looking for opportunities to rebuild his value, and found that in the form of a one-year, $3MM deal with the Red Sox. The platform year in Boston went well enough that Strahm now finds himself with a multi-year contract with an AAV of $7.5MM.
Philadelphia’s bullpen was need of a bit of a rebuild after the departures of Corey Knebel, David Robertson and Brad Hand, and there’s every chance Strahm isn’t the only addition they make there. He’ll slot in with the likes of Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, Andrew Bellatti and Connor Brogdon in the Phillies bullpen as things stand.
It’s been a busy few days for the Phillies, who’ve already added Walker as well as Trea Turner to their ranks. It takes their projected payroll to $230MM, just $3MM shy of the first luxury tax threshold.
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