Phillies Sign Veteran Bench Bat, LHP Bullpen Arm
The Phillies continued assembling their 2017 squad with two signings on Friday night. With a roster full at 40, the Phillies added two minor league free agents with significant Major League playing time: left-handed reliever Sean Burnett and utility player Daniel Nava. Both deals included invitations to Spring Training.
Burnett could fill a glaring need for the Phillies: left-handed relief help. The Phillies at one point last season had no left-handed pitching on the entire pitching staff, let alone the bullpen. Joely Rodriguez was the only left-handed reliever on the roster before the Phillies claimed reliever David Rollins on waivers from the Texas Rangers. Neither player is a sure bet to start 2017 in the bullpen.
Burnett is most familiar to Phillies fans from his time with the Washington Nationals. Burnett was with the Phillies' NL East foe from 2009 through 2012, and also made 10 appearances with the Nationals last season. Burnett missed all of 2015 after several disabled list stints in 2014 battling elbow issues.
Burnett began 2016 with the Nationals in Spring Training, but opted out of his contract. After stints with the Dodgers, Braves and Twins organizations, the Nationals reacquired Burnett in an August trade and he pitched 10 games for the Nationals down the stretch, pitching to a 3.18 earned run average.
Nava is best known for his contributions as a utility player with the 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. In his career Nava has played left field, right field, and first base, with one lone game in center field. The switch-hitting Nava will compete to be an extra player off of the Phillies bench; the Phillies need a pinch-hit option from the left-side, and Nava is a switch-hitter.
In Nava's 2013 season, his best, he batted .303 with 12 home runs and 66 runs batted in. In 2014 Nava batted a solid .270, but has failed to regain his form since. Nava batted just .194 in 2015, split between the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. In 2016, Nava batted .233 between the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Expect the Phillies to add some more minor league free agents with experience. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has said he was hoping the Phillies would add another bat. However, the Phillies do not wish to give up any of their prospects on the 40-man roster, if they can help it.