Phillies Acquire All-Star Reliever From Tigers

Lindsey Wasson, USA TODAY Sports

The news was quick and efficient – in less than half an hour the rumblings that a trade could be possible and that the trade was agreed upon were made public.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi was the first to report the details of the deal and that it was official.

The Phillies are hoping to gain an All-Star reliever as Gregory Soto has served as a closer for the Tigers and went to the last two All Star games.

Of course, he has also played for the Tigers, so his 2021 selection was just a mandatory “someone from the team has to go” selection. He posted a 3.39 ERA with 16 saves that season.

In 2022, he posted a 3.28 ERA with 30 saves, but posted a 2-11 record as the closer so he should not be considered a dominant closer by any means and the Phillies may well stick to using him more as a setup/high-leverage man rather than as the traditional closer.

Kody Clemens, a position player who plays just about anywhere in the field, made his debut in the MLB last season, making 127 plate appearances and posting an absolutely uninspiring slash line of .145/.197/.308. He was the Tigers number 18 prospect in 2020 and in 2021.

His AAA playing time last season was much stronger with a .274/.327/.535 line in over twice as many appearances, so there could be some hope that he plays at the major league level as a utility man, though it may be he winds up as organizational depth.

The Phillies send away catcher Donny Sands, outfielder Matt Vierling and utility man Nick Maton.

Sands spent the entire 2022 season in Lehigh Valley, largely as a backup due to the presence of Rafael Marchan there and Logan O’Hoppe having been the starter at AA until the trade deadline. Since he was on the 40-man roster, this move will clear up an extra spot for the team.

Maton had been up and down between MLB and the minors the past two seasons, but was an incredible fill in for the team during their push for the playoffs last year, posting a .250 batting average with a slugging percentage over .500. He has seemed to thrive at any time the Phillies gave him consistent at bats, but that didn’t seem likely to happen in Philadelphia with each starter spot seemingly already claimed by someone.

Finally, Matt Vierling, the man who knows a thing or two about game-winning hits. Over the last two seasons, he has posted a .260/.309/.374 slash line. He has struggles at the plate at times and doesn’t hit for much power, but was a reliable defensive replacement and was used heavily (357 plate appearances in 2022) between injuries and the Phillies trying to locate a consistent fielder to play in center.

The Phillies bullpen gains an experienced reliever, but their bench takes a hit. For now, the only experienced bats on their bench will be Garrett Stubbs and Edmundo Sosa. They did claim Jake Cave who has some experience in the outfield, but should not be counted on at the major league level.

Prospects Símon Muzziotti and Johan Rojas are the only other position players on the 40 man, though Kody Clemens figures to join them. It is unclear if the Phillies plan to start Clemens at AAA or keep him with the Major League club.