Another Back End Reliever for the Phils?

The Phillies and free agent reliever Tony Watson have had some discussions about adding the workhorse left-hander to the collection of arms at the back end of the Phillies bullpen. Watson, who was traded from the Pirates to the Dodgers at last year’s trade deadline, has pitched in at least 67 games in each of the last six seasons, including leading the majors in appearances with 78 in 2014.

Throughout his career, which started in 2011 with Pittsburgh, Watson has been a reliable arm late in games. While he has worked primarily as a set-up man, Watson does have 30 career saves, including 10 last season with Pittsburgh and 15 the prior season.

The Phillies and Red Sox, according to John Heyman of Fan Rag, are in on Watson, as are other unnamed teams. The front-runner appears to be San Francisco. Bob Nightengale of USA Today lists the negotiations between the Giants and Watson as “serious.”

Watson was actually drafted three different times, first by Florida in 2003, then by Baltimore in 2006. Finally, the Pirates drafted him in the ninth round of the 2007 Draft out of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. The 32-year old has appeared in 474 major league games, all in relief, with a career mark of 33-17 and a career ERA of 2.68. He has averaged 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings and has walked just 2.5 per nine innings.

The Phillies have already added Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek to go with closer Hector Neris at the back of the bullpen. Watson has occasionally worked as a reliever used earlier in a game to work out of a jam and could again play that role with the Phillies, but would also give them a left-handed option in late innings.

Chuck Hixson

Chuck has a wide and varied background in covering sports both locally and nationally. Living in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, Chuck has the distinction of being the only person to have covered both the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Lehigh Valley Phantoms in every season of their existence. Chuck began covering sports in 1998 when he was the first program director and morning host at WTKZ-AM in Allentown, Pennsylvania when the station switched to an all sports format. Chuck produced the stations coverage of the Allentown Ambassadors baseball team, which played in the independent Northeast League. From there, Chuck was the editor and writer of Pinstripes magazine, covering Phillies baseball. That led to Chuck founding Philly Baseball Insider in 2003. Chuck has done freelance work for national entities such as USA TODAY, CBS, FOX Sports, Washington Times and others.

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