the Philadelphia Phillies Lefty reliever Gregory Soto was acquired from the Detroit Tigers on Saturday as part of a five-player swap. The teams announced the deal on Saturday afternoon, with the Phillies snapping Soto and starting linebacker Cody Clemens in exchange for outfielder Matt Ferling, utility linebacker Nick Mattoon and catcher Donnie Sands.
Soto, who turns 28 next month, has spent most of the past two seasons as closer to Detroit. Overall, he has compiled a 3.34 ERA (121 ERA+) and a 1.84 strikeout-to-walk ratio, with that number being weighed down by his wildness. Indeed, Soto’s walk rate during the 2021-22 seasons (13.7 percent) ranks second among the 22 pitchers with at least 30 saves in that span; Only Aroldis Chapman, currently a free agent, walked a higher stake than the speculators.
However, it is likely that the Phyllis found Soto intriguing in part because of its mixing things up and trickery. He averaged 98 mph on his fastball last season. He throws from an unusual shooting point, too, one that sees him get a deep reach from an underarm hole. No doubt, this combination helps explain why he hit more than batted in every inning of his career.
Soto is under the team’s control during the 2025 season, making him a potential long-term fit, as far as relief options go.
Soto is the Phillies’ third notable addition to their bases this winter. Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fould had previously signed Matt Strahm and Craig Kimbrill. The latter’s arrival led Dombrowski to suggest that the Phillies could potentially enter the season with a closer per-committee approach.
“Not to say [Kimbrel] He wouldn’t shut down the games or say that couldn’t happen, but it was important to discuss it beforehand.” Dombrowski told MLB.com. “We feel like we have the makings of a real good game. We’ve got quite a few guys who can play a one-run lead late in the game, which we think is very important.”
It is unclear if the Phillies will change their philosophy with Soto in tow. Coach Rob Thomson appears likely to enter the season with the intention of mixing and matching based on compatibility and availability.
Clemens, 26, is best known for being one of Roger’s sons. He made his big-league debut last season, hitting .145/.197/.308 (45 OPS+) over a sample of 56 games that saw him strike 25 more times than he walked. Clemens has shown good raw power from the left side in the minors, but his tendency to blow out limits his offensive cap. He sees the business as a backup bat.
For their part, the Tigers team received, in return, three players who are supposed to witness the big league matches during the 2023 season.
Ferling, 26, is the most accomplished of the trio. 374 (91 ppg+) in 151 big league games over the past two seasons while seeing most of his action in center field. The Tigers ostensibly view Feirling as a vertical play based on how aggressively he hits the ball. Last season, his outing speed ranked 86th in average and in 82nd maximum percentage, indicating more juice in his bat than the cut line indicates.
Mattoon, 25, had an impressive 34 games with the Phillies last season, boosting his streak to 0.254/.330/.434 (109 OPS+) in 216 trips to the plate. Beware that Mattoon swings and misses a lot to the player without much power output. To wit, his pass-out rate in 2022 was 35.4 percent, or well above the league average mark of 24.7 percent.
Sands, 26, appeared in three games last season with the big-league club. In 57 Triple-A games, he hit .309/.413/.428 with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. The Tigers have two other catchers, Eric Haas and Jake Rogers, on their 40-man roster, which suggests the Sands could open the year in the minors if the Tigers don’t make another trade or sustain an injury before the season begins.
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