Add Meyer to lefthanded relief candidates

The Phillies signed lefthanded reliever Dan Meyer to a minor-league contract over the weekend. (J Pat Carter/AP)

It's quiet on the Phillies' free-agent front. Not hard to see why. The Phillies want to upgrade the bullpen, where a multitude of possibilites exist.

But it might be worthwhile to sit back and wait to see how the market develops. That is, unless you want to pay $16.5 million over three seasons for a middle reliever, like the Detroit Tigers did Wednesday with righthander Joaquin Benoit.

Remember, middle relievers are the most difficult to predict from year to year. That's because they don't have good enough stuff to be a starter or a closer. So by nature, they are suseptible to ups and downs. (Need we not look any further as Danys Baez for an example of the perils of multi-year deals with middle relievers.)

Lefthanded relief is a target of Ruben Amaro Jr. this week and for the remainder of the winter. J.C. Romero is gone. Antonio Bastardo is young and talented, but the Phillies want additional options. Pedro Feliciano, Hisanori Takahashi and Brian Fuentes are top lefties on the market.

But they will scour the bottom of the barrel, too, and come up with signings like Dan Meyer, a lefthander who spent the last two seasons with Florida.

Meyer, a Woodbury native, signed a minor-league deal over the weekend, according to the Gloucester County Times.

Last season, Meyer pitched in just 13 games for the Marlins with a 9.64 ERA. In the minors, he had a 2.93 ERA in 46 innings.

During the 2009 season, Meyer was Florida's primary lefthanded option out of the bullpen -- a role he thrived in. In 71 games (58 1/3 innings) he had a 3.09 ERA. He held lefties to a .228 batting average and .674 OPS.

But for his career, lefties hit .283 with an .816 OPS against Meyer.

Meyer, 29, is a former first-round pick of the Braves. He's a low-risk signing with potentially high reward, a type the Phillies will seek out this off-season as the payroll climbs even higher.

"It was one of those things, I struggled with my breaking ball early, tried to do too much in too short an amount of time," Meyer told the Times. "I ended up going down and pitching well, but I never really got a chance the rest of the year. I came up in July, threw one good inning and got sent back down. I never really got an explanation why."

So for the cost of a split minor-league contract, the Phillies will attempt to discover if Meyer's 2009 was an aberration or not.