As first reported (I think) by Paul Hagen, the Phillies have signed free agent relief pitcher Chad Qualls to a one year contract worth $1.15 million. The righty Qualls will likely pick up set-up duties behind closer Jonathan Papelbon, but who knows for sure?
Qualls, 33, turned in the best season of his career with the Astros in 2007, striking out 78 in 83 innings pitched. His strikeout rate has plummeted from a career-best 8.7 per nine innings in 2008 to 5.2 last season with the Padres. All the more strange because his velocity in 2011 was as good or better than it was in his high-strikeout 2007 and 2008 seasons.
The Qualls signing could signal that the team is not fully confident that Jose Contreras can bounce back effectively from last season's elbow surgery, that the team does not trust the above named Rookie Reliever Troika, as well as some possible hedging against injury and/or regression for Antonio Bastardo.
At any rate, it's not a ton of money, and hopefully the fact that Qualls is an erstwhile closer does not mean that he's automatically entitled to every high leverage, non-save late inning situation unless he's pitching well enough to deserve them.
So the bullpen as it stands now:
CL - Jonathan Papelbon
SU/LS - Antonio Bastardo
SU/LI - Chad Qualls
SU - Jose Contreras
LS - Dontrelle Willis
MI - Michael Stutes
LM/MU - Kyle Kendrick
Bubble guys: David Herndon, Schwimer, DeFratus, maybe Aumont.