Right-handed reliever Neftali Feliz has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Diamondbacks, as FanRag Sports’ Robert Murray and our Chris Cotillo reported on Sunday. Felix’s deal includes an invitation to major-league spring training.
Feliz, 29, will be looking to bounce back after a disastrous 2017 season in which he was released by both the Brewers and the Royals. After signing a one-year, $5.35 million contract last offseason to serve as Milwaukee’s closer, he struggled mightily, posting a 6.00 ERA while striking out 21 batters and walking 15 over 27 innings before being let go in mid-June. He was quickly picked up by the Royals but wasn’t able to rediscover his form in Kansas City, posting a 4.74 ERA while striking out 16 and walking eight over 19 innings. He didn’t pitch again after the Royals placed him on the disabled list with ulnar nerve palsy on August 19, and they cut him on September 1 as they worked to clear 40-man roster space.
While he’s a nine-year big-league veteran and has a rather extensive history of arm injuries, Feliz is still relatively young and may be able to bounce back if he can get his command under control. Feliz, who won the AL Rookie of the Year and was an All-Star in 2010, has 107 career saves and has posted earned-run averages under 3.00 in five of his nine seasons. Even after struggling immensely in two of his past three seasons, he still has a rather solid career ERA of 3.49 and a 1.14 WHIP through 389.1 innings.
Just like they did last year when they brought veterans Jorge de la Rosa, Fernando Rodney, J.J. Hoover, T.J. McFarland, and Tom Wilhelmsen to spring training on inexpensive deals, the Diamondbacks are building up plenty of experienced bullpen depth in advance of the 2018 season. Just in the past week, Arizona has signed Kris Medlen, Antonio Bastardo, Fernando Salas, Michael Blazek, and now Feliz to minor-league contracts. Those veterans will battle for spots in a bullpen that seems likely to include Brad Boxberger, Archie Bradley, Andrew Chafin, and Yoshihisa Hirano as key pieces with McFarland, Jimmie Sherfy, Randall Delgado, Albert Suarez, and Braden Shipley also likely to factor into the competition.