The Phillies have agreed to terms on a Major League contract with right-handed reliever Blake Parker, Ken Rosenthal and Matt Gelb of The Athletic report (via Twitter). The 34-year-old Parker was recently designated for assignment by the Twins and ultimately opted for free agency over an outright assignment to Triple-A Rochester.
Parker rejecting his outright assignment with the Twins meant walking away from the remainder of his $1.8MM salary, but he’ll now land with the Phils on a new big league pact and immediately jump back onto a roster that is vying for a postseason berth. He’ll also be reunited with righty Mike Morin, whom the Twins designated for assignment and traded to the Phillies earlier this month.
Parker logged a 4.21 ERA in 36 1/3 innings with the Twins but struggled more than that number would indicate. His velocity dipped to its lowest mark since 2014 (91.5 mph average fastball), and he averaged four walks per nine innings pitched — the worst mark of his career excluding a small 17-inning sample in 2016. Parker’s overall strikeout rate, swinging-strike rate and first-pitch strike rate were all down from his 2017 peak with the Halos, and he gave up far too much hard contact; Statcast put his 42.9 percent opponents’ hard-hit rate in just the 10th percentile among MLB pitchers and felt that he was actually fortunate to escape with a .246/.331/.442 opponents’ batting line (based on the quality of the contact he allowed).
All that said, Parker has a decent big league track record and plenty of high-leverage experience, making him a logical fit for a Phillies bullpen that has been torn asunder by injuries in 2019. In his last 170 MLB innings, Parker has a 3.18 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.38 HR/9 and a 40.7 percent ground-ball rate. Much of that production came during the aforementioned career year in 2017, but there’s minimal downside to the Phillies taking an inexpensive look at Parker as a means of helping to patch a beleaguered relief corps.
Parker has fewer than five years of Major League service but will soon cross that threshold. As such, if he acquits himself well in his new environment, he can be controlled through the 2020 season via arbitration.