Friday afternoon, the Astros began to clear up their bullpen logjam by trading side-winding right-hander Pat Neshek to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash. Philadelphia has announced the trade. Neshek's contract includes a $6.5 million club option for 2017 that will be exercised.
Following the Neshek trade, Houston's bullpen looks something like this:
There's room for another arm there, and the Astros have no shortage of candidates. Brad Peacock, James Hoyt, Brady Rodgers, and Kevin Chapman are among those who could compete for the final bullpen spot in spring training. There's still an entire offseason to play out as well.
Now, that said, there's no such thing as too much bullpen depth, and Neshek was rather effective. He had a 3.06 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in 47 innings in 2016. That's a quality reliever who'd fit into any bullpen, and it's not like $6.5 million is an exorbitant salary either.
The fact the Phillies are sending only a player to named later or cash to Astros indicates the return is not significant. The player to be named won't be a top prospect. This almost seems like a straight salary dump, as if the Astros were going to decline the option had they been unable to find a taker on the trade market.
The Phillies, meanwhile, land a rock-solid reliever on the cheap. They're in the middle of a massive rebuild, and when a rebuilding club acquires a veteran reliever on a one-year deal, there's a good chance they'll look to flip him for prospects at the trade deadline. It's a low-cost move with low risk that could bring a nice return comes July.