The Phillies want to deepen their bullpen on the back end as right now, it looks like David Hernandez is the default closer. "I know!" someone shouted in the Phillies front office, "let's sign Jonathan Papelbon!"
After hours of work, the crew realized that despite all the obvious benefits of reacquiring a violent millionaire, Papelbon simply does not want to play for the Phillies again (or 16 other teams). Darn. Well, looks like it's on to plan B--if we're sure Papelbon isn't interested. We're sure? We called him? He didn't answer? His voicemail is just him listing the teams he won't play for? All right.
With that in mind, the Phillies have gone out and acquired Edward Mujica and Andrew Bailey, giving them minor league contracts and including a frilly, floral invitation to Clearwater in the spring.
At 29 years old and a decade deep into his major league career, Mujica was getting a two-year, $9.5 million deal from the Red Sox in 2013; a story that ends with him having a 4.03 ERA over 72.1 innings and being DFA'd in May 2015. Oakland scooped him up for a PTBNL and there he played for the remainder of the season, allowing 18 earned runs, 37 hits, and only four walks in 33.2 innings. His years of playing with scrappy, media-beloved squads like the Red Sox, A's, and Cardinals are over; now, he is forced to join the Phillies as they attempt to assimilate with all the pitchers in the known galaxy.
"I was on the 2013 All-Star team!" Mujica proclaims, and a Phillies rep chuckles darkly, handing him a red pinstriped uniform.
Bailey, 31 years old and the 2009 AL ROY, is also a veteran of the Athletics and Red Sox. He was not tendered a contract by Boston at the end of the 2013 season, possibly to make room for their studly new late inning reliever, Edward Mujica. He had spent two years with the Sox, amassing an undesirable ERA of 4.91. The Yankees picked him up and dangled $2.5 million in front of him - if he could battle through his shoulder injury and make the big club.
He could not. Bailey returned in 2015, getting a far less lucrative minor league deal from New York, and they promoted him in September for 8.2 innings of work. He gave up five earned runs, nine hits, and five walks in that span.
Matt Klentak's family is preparing themselves for the very real possibility that he will miss Christmas dinner to to acquire more low-risk pitching, but at least we may take comfort in knowing there will be no such thing as an empty chair in the Phillies bullpen.