On the final day of the meetings between general managers, the Philadelphia Phillies announced the signing of reliever James Russell to a minor-league contract with an invitation to minor-league spring training.
The fact that Russell was offered an role to spring training shows that he could get a spot on the Opening Day roster, if he performers to the best of his abilities.
Russell, a left-handed pitcher, was dominant for the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs in 2014, but fell off the tracks in 2015 with the Cubs.
In 2014, he logged a 2.97 ERA and 1,127 WHIP over 66 games pitched, which covered 57.2 innings. It was Russell's best season since coming into the league in 2010. He was a 14th round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. The 2015 season, however, was much different. Russell posted a rough 5.29 ERA over 49 appearances. The 29-year-old pitched a career-low 34.0 innings.
If things do not turn around during spring training, he will probably split time between the Minor and Majors in 2016. Look for him to toss about 30.0 innings if he does not prove himself in spring training.
However, If Russell shows that he can be a solid bullpen addition at the Major League level, he could be due for a breakout season. Nevertheless, the Phillies need bullpen arms and will take a chance on the six-year reliever.
Philadelphia added Dan Otero, 30, just nine days before signing Russell. Otero, who is a right-handed reliever, was claimed off waivers from the Oakland Athletics.
Otero, who was a 21st round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, went 2-4 with a 6.75 ERA over 46.2 innings of work. He pitched 41 games out of the bullpen. The 30-year-old had his best season of four Major League seasons in 2014. The right-hander went 8-2 with a 2.28 ERA over 72 games and 86.2 innings pitched.
Who knows, maybe it will be a fight for an Opening Day spot between Russell and Otero.