UPDATE: Looks like this one is done, folks.
Right-handed reliever Corey Knebel is in agreement on a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, a source familiar with the deal tells ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 1, 2021
We’ll have lots more on this later.
What’s this, a rumor that the Phillies are close to handing out real, actual money?
Phillies expressing serious interest in free-agent reliever Corey Knebel, sources tell me and @Jaysonst.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 30, 2021
If you needed further validation, here is a local guy saying the same thing, as well as dropping a juicy tidbit as well:
Phillies indeed in serious pursuit of Knebel, as Ken and Jayson report. Can add Phillies are making progress in talks. Team remains in pursuit of Kyle Schwarber, as well. https://t.co/VebDfyviXH— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) November 30, 2021
You might remember Knebel from the playoffs with the Dodgers this October when he was called on to open games for Los Angeles rather than them going with a starter. You may have remembered that he was quite effective during the season as well, throwing only 25 2⁄3 innings, but making those innings count by throwing 2.45 ERA (2.90 FIP) baseball. He struck out a lot of batters (29.7%), walked few of them (8.9%) and allowing home runs to even fewer (0.70 HR/9).
What you might also remember is that he’s had previous closing experience 55 games for Milwaukee in 2017-18 before his arm went kablooey, having to miss all of 2019 and generally being bad in 2020 with the Brewers as well. So if there is some hesitation, it’s to be expected. However, there are some nice things to point out.
- His expected stats have generally remained pretty steady since 2017, outside of his bad 2020 when we can safely assume he was still working his way back from those arm issues
- His velocity on his fastball is almost back to where it was prior to his injury, averaging a tic over 96 miles per hour in 2021
- His pitches were in the zone more often than before (54.1%) last year, yet hitters were making contact less often on those pitches in the zone
- His whiff rates on pitches were back to pre-injury levels, another indication that his stuff is back to where it was before he got hurt
Were the time to secure his services, Knebel would be a solid addition to the bullpen. He could fill the role of closer that Dave Dombrowski is looking for at a likely lower cost than Raisel Iglesias or Kenley Jansen. It would be a good move for the Phillies to make.