Be honest, did you remember that David Phelps was a Seattle Mariner? Yes, it seems like just yesterday he was acquired for Brayan Hernandez and Pablo Lopez. Phelps’s career in Seattle lasted only 10 games before a late-season Tommy John surgery cost him the rest of 2017 all of his 2018 seasons.
Phelps may or may not be a free agent as his current contract situation is a bit of a mystery. He has a team option for 2020 and according to performance clauses in the contract he signed with the Blue Jays, the Cubs will need to pay him $5 million if they pick up that option.
Phelps was pretty good in 2019, throwing 34.1 innings, posting a 9.44 K/9 and a 4.46 BB/9. Not great, but considering it was year 1 back from major surgery, the command issues are not hard to excuse.
Since transitioning to the bullpen full-time, Phelps has posted a solid 3.35 ERA, a 10.28 K/9, a 3.91 xFIP, and a 3.75 FIP with a decent groundball percentage. When he’s healthy, Phelps isn’t a closer but a solid 7th inning type of reliever.
For the 2020 Mariners, this may be good enough to be the de facto closer. Throwing a veteran into the closer role to ease in young relievers isn’t a bad idea and can actually raise the trade value of Phelps next summer as well.
Phelps wouldn’t be an exciting addition, but he would be a solid one. Bullpen arms with back-end experience are valuable but are often too expensive, especially for rebuilding teams. But for $5 million, Phelps should be able to return that value and then some for the Mariners.