Diamondbacks Sign Neftali Feliz

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a deal with veteran reliever Neftali Feliz, according to Robert Murray of FanRag Sports.

Chris Cotillo of SB Nation confirmed Murray’s report and added the two sides came to terms on a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Murray said the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels and Cincinnati Reds all showed interest in Feliz.

The 29-year-old Feliz is the latest in a string of relievers that general manager Mike Hazen has signed to minor league deals. Earlier this week, the D-backs signed Fernando Salas, Antonio Bastardo, Kris Medlen and Michael Blazek all to minor league pacts.

Feliz has been a mediocre pitcher at best since 2010. That season, he took home American League Rookie of the Year honors after saving 40 games for the AL champion Texas Rangers.

The right-hander signed a one-year, $5.35 million dollar deal with the Milwaukee Brewers last January, but it turned out to be a massive overpay. He walked 15 batters, struck out 21, surrendered eight home runs and pitched to a 7.12 FIP in 27 innings across 29 appearances.

The Brewers released Feliz in June, and the Kansas City Royals decided to take a chance on him, but Feliz continued to struggle. He walked half as many batters (8) as he struck out (16).

Feliz finished last season with exactly a -0.1 bWAR, which meant he was a horrible investment for either Milwaukee or Kansas City. The last time the Dominican Republic native was worth more than a replacement level player was 2016, when he posted a 1.0 WAR as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

So if you’re the Diamondbacks, why make this move? On the surface, this may seem like a horrible deal.

But the difference between Hazen and Milwaukee is the D-backs general manager signed him to a minor league deal instead of a major league contract. This is another one of Hazen’s classic low-risk, high-reward potential moves that he has become known for when building the team’s bullpen.

Feliz has had numerous arm injuries and performance issues, but he is still 29. This means he has a chance to bounce back and contribute in a positive way for the D-backs in 2018.

Hazen certainly looked a genius at the end of the season after the D-backs made the playoffs for the first time since 2011 and the bullpen, which was filled with a number of expensive castoffs, finished tied for third with the expensive New York Yankees bullpen in runs allowed per game (4.07).

Feliz and the other signings could make this trend continue for at least one more season.

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