The Brewers bolstered their bullpen on Thursday, announcing the signing of right-hander Neftali Feliz to a one-year contract. Feliz, a client of BTI sports, is reportedly expected to close for Milwaukee and will be guaranteed $5.35MM. His contract reportedly contains incentives as well, which can boost the value of the deal to $6.85MM.
[Related: Updated Milwaukee Brewers Depth Chart and Brewers Payroll Info]
The 28-year-old Feliz was the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year with the Rangers and served as the closer in Texas for two seasons before shifting back to the rotation and ultimately requiring Tommy John surgery in 2013. He returned to Texas and logged a 1.99 ERA in 2014 but with considerably diminished peripherals. The Rangers cut him loose midway through the 2015 campaign after 19 2/3 innings of a 4.58 ERA, and he fared worse down the stretch with the Tigers that season (7.62 ERA in 28 1/3 innings).
Like so many others, though, Feliz found renewed success with the Pirates, for whom he tossed 53 1/3 innings of 3.52 ERA ball last season. His fastball velocity, which had been diminished since coming back from Tommy John, spiked back up to an average of 96.1 mph, and his strikeout and swinging-strike rates jumped accordingly. Feliz averaged 10.2 K/9 last season and posted a career-best 14.2 swinging-strike rate that ranked 24th among 135 qualified relievers. He also averaged a manageable 3.5 walks per nine innings pitched and posted a 37.9 percent ground-ball rate.
Had Feliz finished the season in better health, a multi-year deal may very well have been in the cards. However, his season unofficially came to an end on Sept. 3 with an arm injury that was never disclosed in full and remains nebulous to this day. That likely gave plenty of teams pause over the course of the winter, though the Brewers are comfortable enough with his medicals to bring him on board. The fact that Milwaukee has a seemingly wide-open ninth-inning picture following the trade of Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox likely enhanced the appeal of the Brewers for Feliz, who can re-enter the open market next season and conceivably cash in on a substantial contract if he remains healthy in 2017.
If Feliz does ultimately end up closing games in Milwaukee, he’ll push right-handers Corey Knebel and Carlos Torres down the pecking order. Rob Scahill, Michael Blazek, Jhan Marinez, Jacob Barnes and Taylor Jungmann will be among the relievers competing for middle relief work in manager Craig Counsell’s bullpen, and left-hander Tommy Milone looks like a solid bet to break camp as the team’s long man (if he’s not able to claim a rotation spot in Spring Training).
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported the agreement and the terms (Twitter links). FanRag’s Jon Heyman said the two sides were nearing a deal over the weekend after BrewerFan.net’s Jim Goulart linked to the two sides.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
wow. I would have thought he could get a multi year deal with a higher AAV than that
Just curious, not trying to sound like a troll but why would you have assumed he would get higher? The market on everybody this off season has been unusually soft which is weird in some cases, but 5.3 million plus incentives seems fair to me. I for one think all contracts should have low AAV and have players paid for their performance with incentives.
Dookie Howser, MD
I think they should sell hot dogs at the stadium for nickel.
I would have thought he would want a multi year contract vs a one yr. More guaranteed money. I would assume that this deal is a bigger chance of a closer role and earn more in the future
Think about it… if he pitches well the first half of the season theres a good chance he gets traded an he would have no control of the second or more years… Pitch well go to contender an cash in next year… just a thought
The market for relief pitchers is the one market that hasn’t been soft.
If he does good, he will have the chance to pitch for a contender.
Well it’s true
Yeah the “lol” seems unnecessary.
Why the “lol”? I’m not saying Brewers will be contenders just that he would likely get traded if he is doing good.
Maybe he thought it was funny?
I thought you were implying the brewers would be contending. which I thought was funny. But you’re right., if he does we’ll he can be traded for pieces
Why are you laughing at anyone talking about bad teams anyway? The Braves aren’t exactly poised to contend.
Seriously Mets should have signed this guy for one year. If anything else this sets the market so they could probably get Salas or Romo for 1-yr. deal
I wanted Feliz since they didn’t try for any of the last 5 better arms. I wonder if the Brewers promised him a shot at closer, which could raise his value for next year. The Mets have Reed and Familia who would be ahead of him.
Win-win all around. Brewers find someone who actually has a history of closing games and Feliz gets to jump back into the closer role.
If he pitches sub-3.50 ERA through July, he should manage to give the Brewers a couple of mid-level prospects in a deadline trade.
Agree. He was very good in the first half last year if he can repeat those numbers he’ll be a wanted man at the break
I’m surprised it’s this low of a deal. Thought he could get 2 or 3 years and a bit higher AAV. Look what Tazawa got from the Marlins…my guess is this deal allows him to close for the Brewers, which could mean he gets traded somewhere to a contender, and allows him to try and get paid next offseason, if he pitches well…Still think it’s a little low AAV wise for a 1 year deal
I don’t believe this deal to be low at all. His numbers in Pittsburgh don’t jump out at you. He had a mystery arm ailment. The numbers are probably skewed because Hurdle had to put him into favorable situations for him to have value. How many “high leverage” innings can one have with a 3.55 ERA? If the Brewers signed this guy to be the closer, what does that say to Brewers fans about the seasons outlook for their team?
I think even the most casual of Brewers fans knows that they aren’t going to be competitive until at least the 2019 season. This is a perfect signing for the time they are making it. Best case, he gets flipped for prospects. Worst case, he blows saves and they eat the $5.35M on a year where they have an insanely low payroll. It’s a solid deal and it could even provide surplus value if things pan out.
Feliz started getting rocked and walking people his final 7 appearances so I’m assuming that’s where his arm injury came into play as he was shut down after that. Prior that he was 2.85 ERA, 46.1IP, 31H, 16BB, 53K
Very good deal for the Brewers. They will also be much more competitive than people think. If they stay relatively healthy they can push toward 500
Would love to see him and Braun get flipped to TB for Honeywell and Gillaspie.
Tampa already has too many OFs, why would they want Braun and his bad contract?
By “bad contract” you actually mean favorable based on performance for the dollar? Fowler is 2yrs younger and just signed a 5/82.5 deal through age 36 – the age Braun is also signed through. Except Braun has always severely outperformed Fowler and will continue too. Braun’s worst season (2014 – when he played with nerve damage in his right thumb then had surgery afterwards) was still better than almost every season Fowler’s had. And as every year goes by and new FA sign larger contracts his will look even more favorable. He’s not going to TB anyway since he only has 5 teams he can go too without approval
By “bad contract’ he means a contract the Rays budget can’t afford.
Why do the Brewers have the best farm in MLB? Who is coming up and when?
#1 Lefty starter prospect. If you haven’t noticed we have more than enough starting arms in the big league and there are just as many down on the farm that will be ready within 2-3 years. If you’d like to get a clue of how flush we are, look at all of the CF and SS prospects that we have acquired in the past 2 years. Sterns likes these two positions because they are usually the best athletes. I’d say the only position we are weak at in the farm system is 1B and Catcher. What I mean by that is there is nobody that’s in the system to say “there’s the stud we will have for years” at that position,
I wouldn’t say they’re the best but they’re definitely right up there. Brinson (CF), Hader (top LHP), Cordell (OF plays all spots), Woodruff (RHP) are the closest and should make debuts this year. Then there’s a wave of guys at AA (Ortiz, Phillips, Dubon, Nottingham) and A+ (Ray, Diaz, Clark, Erceg, Bickford, Diplan, Ponce, D.Williams, Peralta, Burnes). Lopez will pitch for the Brewers this year too but not sure if he’ll make team out of spring. Couple guys with a lot of talent out of the pen that are coming back from TJ are T.Williams and Kirby and they’ll probably start out in A/A+ to get back in the swing of things. Vast majority of these guys comprise Top 20 in system. Brinson slotted in at #5 best OF prospect in minors with Ray at 11. Hader #1 LHP. Nottingham #10 catcher. Erceg #12 3b. Diaz #11 SS but will end up at 2b. Lot of strong talent