The Phillies have signed lefty reliever Jose Alvarado to a three year contract, per a team announcement. The deal keeps Alvarado in Philadelphia through at least the 2025 season, and includes a club option for 2026. Alvarado is represented by OL Baseball Group.
According to Daniel Alvarez-Montes of El Extrabase, Alvarado will earn $9MM in each of the 2024 and 2025 seasons, with a $50K signing bonus. The 2026 club option is for $9MM, with a $500k buyout. Alvarado and the club already agreed to a $3.45MM salary for 2023 to avoid arbitration, effectively making this three-year, $22MM contract a two-year, $18.55MM extension. Still, it’s a three-year contract for luxury tax purposes, meaning the Phillies will be taxed on a $7.33MM AAV for 2023, as opposed to the previous $3.45MM figure. On the other hand, this also lowers the tax figure for 2024 and 2025 seasons compared to the $9.275MM figure it would have been if structured as a two year deal.
Alvarado, 28 in May, is coming off a phenomenal 2022 season that saw him post a 3.18 ERA across 51 innings of work. While that figure is good for a solidly above-average ERA+ of 129, digging a little deeper reveals that Alvarado posted a dazzling 1.92 FIP last season, the fourth best in baseball, minimum 50 innings pitched. The discrepancy between Alvarado’s run prevention and his underlying metrics likely comes from an inflated .340 BABIP that stands well above his career .302 mark. The rare lefty who can touch triple digits with his fastball, Alvarado’s success came in large part from a 37.9% strikeout rate, which stood as 7th in baseball among those with at least 50 IP.
Alvarado’s success came from more than just strikeouts, however. As a sinkerballer, Alvarado also managed to keep the ball on the ground at and impressive 56.1% clip. Only Jhoan Duran of the Twins had a higher groundball rate while striking out at least 30% of batters faced, while no pitcher who struck out batters at a higher clip than Alvarado induced grounders at a rate of even 50%. That mix of strikeouts and groundballs is a strong recipe for success, and by signing Alvarado long term, the Phillies are indicating confidence in his ability to continue his success past his 30th birthday.
Early in the offseason, the top end of the free agent market exploded, with Robert Suarez and Rafael Montero signing early for surprising guarantees in re-signing with their previous clubs. Suarez secured $46MM from the Padres, while Montero received $34.5MM from the Astros. Taylor Rogers, meanwhile, landed a $33MM guarantee in San Francisco. Those figures all outstrip Alvarado’s guarantee by a considerable amount, but the $18.55MM in new money surpasses the guarantees of free agent lefties who signed later this offseason such as Matt Strahm ($15MM), Andrew Chafin ($6.25MM), and Matt Moore, ($7.55MM). Given how Alvarado’s deal stacks up well against fellow relievers in his service bracket like Ryan Pressly, Huston Street, and Daniel Bard, taking this deal is an understandable decision for him. While there’s risk he continues to dominate as he did in 2022, the Phillies are risking that his struggles with injuries and command resurface from earlier in his career and limit his abilities going forward.
This is the second extension at the back of the Phillies’ bullpen in as many days, as the club agreed to a deal Seranthony Dominguez yesterday that could keep Dominguez in Philadelphia through the 2025 season. With these deals, the Phillies have locked up a pair of exciting, high-octane arms who can be penciled in for late inning duties alongside Strahm and Gregory Soto for the next few seasons. Having also also added Craig Kimbrel to their late inning mix for the 2023 season last month, the Phillies appear to have turned a bullpen that has long been considered an area of weakness for the club into a strength as they attempt to return to the World Series after last year’s surprise postseason run.