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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: David Phelps

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays-Workouts Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays signed free agent David Phelps back in January. He has a rather complicated contract. He has a 1-year contract for $2.5 million and a club option for 2020 at $1 million. But the option goes up if plays a fair bit this year. If, in 2019, he plays:

  • 30-39 games, the option will be $3 million.
  • 40-49 games, the option will be $5 million.
  • 50 or more games, the options will be $7 million.
  • Or, it will be $8 million if he plays in more than 50 games and 40 or more games finished.

And he has incentives in this year’s contract. He will get $250,000 for appearing in his each of his 25th, 30th and 35th games. He’ll get $350,000 for pitching in each of his 40th, 45th, 50th, 55th and 70th games.

And, more incentives for this year. He will get $125,000 for each of his 25th and 30 games finished. He’ll get $250,000 for his 35th and 40th games finished. With those incentives for games finished, it seems like he’s hoping to be closer at some point.

Why did Phelps sign such a convoluted contract? He missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery last March. This spring he’s just started throwing batting practice. I doubt he starts the season on the active roster. I’d think he’s likely to start on the DL. Since he is a one-inning guy, maybe he can ramp up to be ready in a short period of time, but I think they would be careful with him.

What does he throw?

Baseball Prospectus has a detailed scouting report. He throws a number of pitches. Three fastballs:

  • Four-seam: averages 94.7 mph.
  • Cutter: averages 91.1 mph.
  • Two-seam: 93.5 mph.

And a ‘knucklecurve’, with a ‘11-5’ bite, averaging 81.6 mph. He also has a change-up that he rarely uses.

Phelps has had 6 seasons in the majors. The first 4, they tried him as a starter, with varying levels of success. 2016 and 2017 he pitched out of the pen. Over those two seasons he’s had a 2.72 ERA. In 142.1 innings he gave up 112 hits, 64 walks and 176 strikeouts. I like relievers who can get more than a strikeout an inning. In his career, as a reliever, batters have hit .223/.315/.348 against him.

The question is ‘how much will he pitch this year?’ PECOTA figures him for 32 innings, and a 3.38 ERA. I’d like to think he’ll get in more than 32 innings, but I’d be happy with the ERA.


If the over/under on Phelps is 40 innings I’d take the

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