Filling closer role a major Phils priority

Among internal candidates, Neris most likely

Filling closer role a major Phils priority

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies traded Ken Giles last December because they knew they did not need a surefire closer in 2016.

The team entered Spring Training without a replacement, but eventually settled Jeanmar Gomez into the role in April. He surprisingly saved 37 games, but he also posted a 13.20 ERA (22 earned runs in 15 innings) in 19 appearances from Aug. 14 through the end of the season. He lost his job in the final week of the season, and he might not be back in the role next year.

"Some of that might depend on what we do this winter, which players we bring in from the outside," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said about the closer's role at the General Managers Meetings this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Internally, Hector Neris is the most likely candidate to close, if the Phillies choose to go in a different direction. He went 4-4 with a 2.58 ERA and two saves in 79 appearances. He struck out 102 batters in 80 1/3 innings.

"Hector Neris has shown he has the stuff to do it," Klentak said. "I think [Edubray] Ramos has shown he has the stuff to do it, too. We'll have to see who else we're able to bring in from the outside. We're not looking to create a closer-by-committee dynamic, but I think it's reasonable to say we may not have an anointed closer on day one of Spring Training. But like last year, we'd like to establish roles by the time we reach the first week of April."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.