In a piece for the The Athletic, Matt Gelb recaps the frantic lead-up to the Phillies’ signing of right-handed reliever Corey Knebel, which included an unfortunately timed trip to Mexico and a number of insightful quotes from Knebel himself. One particular quote of note is that Knebel and Philadelphia “entertained” a two-year contract before ultimately settling on a one-year, $10MM guarantee.
While Knebel is the presumptive closer for his new club at this time, neither he nor president Dave Dombrowski have confirmed as such. Accordingly, Knebel says he’s using the personal risk of a one-year contract as motivation to regain the form that made him one of the game’s most dominant arms from 2017-2018. As the “$10MM” portion of his latest contract indicates, however, Knebel may not need much more motivation to regain elite status at the back of a pen. After all, a newfound reliance on his curveball led to the right-hander spinning 25 plus innings of 2.45 ERA ball with the Dodgers last season.
While health and its corresponding impact on effectiveness is always a question with pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery, the Phillies front office was surely pleased by Knebel demonstrating some of the best control he’s had in his career. Further dampening health concerns were Knebel’s strikeout abilities, which were down during the season from his own lofty 2017-2018 heights, but were still solidly above average and exploded in the playoffs— in 5+ innings the right-hander struck out 11 batters against just one walk.
In other news out of the National League…
- The Mets have been one of baseball’s busiest teams during the lockout thus far, and have been the runaway winner in activity over the past 48 hours. The team already reeled in its biggest coaching fish of the offseason back in December when they hired Buck Showalter, but they have since announced plans to hire a number of other coaches around him. Among the recent coaches set to join the Mets coaching staff are first base coach Wayne Kirby, third base coach Joey Cora, and hitting coach Eric Chávez, who was successfully wooed away from the crosstown Yankees. Mike Puma of the New York Post explains (via Twitter) the reason none of these coaching additions have yet been made official. Puma states that every prospective hire is receiving a “very thorough” background check, which is likely delaying an official announcement from the club on this trio of reported coaches. It remains to be seen if this thoroughness is delaying the hire of the team’s alleged high-profile mystery bench coach as well. That the club is being methodical in its search for new club personnel should register as a shock to no one, with several high-profile members enjoying unceremonious ends to their New York tenures in recent years.
- Bob Nightengale reports that the Reds have signed center fielder Lorenzo Cedrola to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. A signee out of Venezuela with some prospect pedigree, Cedrola was traded by Boston to Cincinnati back in 2018 for international bonus pool space. The 23-year-old will now look to continue his work in the Reds farm system, where he’s fresh off his first Triple-A promotion and an overall .315/.354/.458 season. His 10 home runs across 115 games last season easily represent a career high, though Cedrola’s 10 for 18 showing on the basepaths could use some work if he’s to crack the Reds’ uncertain outfield mix in 2022.