What’s the Philadelphia Phillies’ plan for Corey Knebel?

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Philadelphia Phillies signed Corey Knebel to a one-year deal worth $10 million, they made a short yet pricy commitment to their bullpen. Crossing into the $10 million per year range pretty much guarantees he’s the favorite to close for the team in 2022.

It’s an interesting deal. Knebel has only one full year as a closer in his past. Back in 2017, he took over the job for the Milwaukee Brewers in what would be a career year featuring an All-Star selection, 1.78 ERA, and 39 saves.

In the years since, Knebel has gotten save opportunities, battled injuries, and missed an entire season. He’s coming off of a strong campaign with the Los Angeles Dodgers but that doesn’t make him right for the closer role. Considering it’s only a one-year deal with the Phillies, I’m left wondering what the plan with him is.

What are the Phillies planning to do with Corey Knebel?

Here’s the best thing that can possibly happen: Knebel begins the year as the Phillies closer, he’s worth all $10 million, and before the year is through they are able to sign him to an extension.

I’ve watched enough baseball to know the best things don’t always happen. This is a dream scenario we shouldn’t expect to happen.

This kind of commitment to Knebel for a single season is a bit odd. It suggests the team is relying on him heavily in 2022 but not willing to build upon anything he may accomplish just yet. Wise in the sense that it doesn’t back them into any corner, the more realistic scenario is that he’s either a bust or he pitches so well that he leaves the Phillies in free agency to seek out a much better deal.

One-year deals in baseball tend to say two very different things. They are either contracts you give to a guy when you hope to maybe trade them midseason because you know you might not be very good. We don’t want this to be the case for the Phillies. They’re supposed to try to win next season.

The other option with one-year deals is that you are willing to go the extra few miles to build around them. Thus far, the Phillies haven’t had the opportunity to show us this is the situation they’re in. A one-year contract with a reliever isn’t a bad thing as long as you build a strong team around them. Otherwise, I have to wonder, what’s the point?

The Phillies bullpen has been a major issue for the club. One $10 million closer with 60 career saves and less than 40 innings post-2018 isn’t the kind of transaction that creates a whole lot of confidence.

dark. Next. Phillies all-time starting lineup

Are the Phillies committed to actually winning in 2022? The Knebel signing doesn’t answer the question. It’s a one-year risk that can pay off or become completely forgotten when the team is fighting to finish in third-place in July. Unfortunately, we won’t have our answer until after we see what else the front office does to surgically repair their Achilles heel.