The ring is the thing for new Phillies reliever Matt Strahm


Red October proved to be quite a December recruiting tool for the Phillies.

"What Philly did last season and how magical that place seemed on TV, I can only imagine what it's like in person," lefty reliever Matt Strahm said after his two-year, $15 million contract with the Phillies became official on Friday.

Star shortstop Trea Turner, who signed an 11-year, $300 million contract with the Phils earlier in the week, admitted to being similarly impressed by the electric crowds that filled Citizens Bank Park during the postseason.

The frenzy of those eight October sellouts wasn't Strahm's only lure to Philadelphia.

Like Turner, he's eager to be part of the team that came within two wins of a World Series championship.

"I'm at the point in my career where winning is everything," the 31-year-old veteran of six-plus big-league seasons said. "I did the rebuild thing in San Diego (from 2018 to 2021) and I want to be on a team that's ready to compete. You can't argue with what the Phillies have done and I'm excited to join them and be part of it.

"Winning is everything to me. Second place ain't a thing. I wanted to play Major League Baseball. I succeeded there and now the one thing I want is a ring."

So does Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott, Nick Castellanos, Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado and others.

Turner earned one with the Washington Nationals in 2019. Kyle Schwarber won one with the Chicago Cubs in 2016. Manager Rob Thomson picked one up as a member of the New York Yankees coaching staff in 2009.

The Phillies made it to Game 6 of the World Series before losing to Houston in 2022. They are intent on closing the gap in 2023 and have brought free agents Turner, Strahm and starting pitcher Taijuan Walker aboard to help the cause. Walker agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract earlier this week and is expected to be introduced as a Phillie next week.

A knee injury limited Strahm to just six games with San Diego in 2021. He came back strong with Boston in 2022 and pitched in 50 games, recording a 3.83 ERA in 44⅔ innings. He struck out 10.5 batters per nine innings. His pitch arsenal goes five deep, but he relies mostly on a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a slider and a curveball. His opponents hit .135 last season in at-bats ending in the four-seamer or curveball.

Strahm said he had other offers, but the Phillies were aggressive in targeting him.

"Philly didn't really give many people a chance," he said. "They made it look sweet and you can't argue with that team." 

Strahm will join Jose Alvarado as a second lefty in the Phillies' bullpen, but don't call him a lefty specialist. Lefties hit .229 against him last season, righties .221.

"I take pride that I can get both righties and lefties out," Strahm said. "Pitching is pitching. I don't care what side of the dish you're on."

That attitude goes for his role, as well. It doesn't matter what innings he pitches in. He made 16 starts with San Diego in 2019 and wouldn't mind pitching in that role again someday down the road. But for now, it's the bullpen -- on a team he believes can win.

"Wherever they need outs, I'll get outs," Strahm said. "I don't care about stats. I don't care about numbers. It's winning, dude. I want to win. However they see me helping them win is what I want to do."

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