Phillies acquire Gregory Soto from Tigers: What All-Star reliever brings to Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Phillies acquired All-Star left-hander Gregory Soto in a trade with the Detroit Tigers, the teams announced on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Soto earned his second straight All-Star nod last season, recording 30 saves with a 3.28 ERA over 60 1/3 innings pitched.
  • The Tigers will receive Nick Maton, Matt Vierling and Donny Sands from Philadelphia.
  • Detroit infielder Kody Clemens — son of Roger Clemens — will also be sent to the Phillies as part of the five-player deal.

The AthleticInstant analysis of:

Why the Phillies went after Soto

In Soto, the Phillies get their platonic ideal of a reliever. He has great clothes and questionable command. The Phillies have had success using a similar left-handed reliever — José Alvarado — and there are some lessons that could apply to Soto.

With Soto and Alvarado in the bullpen, the Phillies will have the two hardest-throwing left-handed relievers in the sport, according to Statcast measurements. Alvarado’s fastball averaged 99.6 mph in 2022 and Soto’s average was 98.4 mph. Dave Dombrowski has prioritized speed when building his bullpen since joining the Phillies. This trade reflects that. Now, Phillies manager Rob Thomson has as many as six interchangeable late-game relievers in Alvarado, Soto, Seranthony Domínguez, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Strahm and Connor Brogdon. It’s an interesting combination. — Gelb

What Phillies can expect from Soto, Clemens

Soto could profile well as a seventh or eighth inning reliever on a contending team. His stuff can be nasty, but his whiff rates have dropped to a level of concern for last season’s closer, ranking in the 53rd percentile of the MLB. The disappearance of Soto’s slider hampered him last season, and he used the pitch just 21.6 percent of the time compared to 37.6 percent in 2021. Inconsistency is a given with Soto, but when he is in command of the ball he can be dominant.

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Clemens is a 26-year-old utility player who has spent the most time at second base. The Tigers put him on the 40-man roster last season mostly for his bat. Clemens hit just .145 with five home runs in 117 MLB at-bats last season. — Stavenhagen

What the Tigers are getting in return

Vierling and Maton were two players on last season’s National League championship team, and while both have intriguing skill sets, the Phillies were willing to flip them for a more significant contributor. Vierling profiles as the fourth outfielder who is best deployed against lefties. He always hits the ball hard, but often on the ground. Maton can play all over the field and has shown flashes of some upside, but the Phillies have always been reluctant to overexpose him with regular playing time.

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Both young players have been sources of energy throughout the unexpected run, even when they haven’t played, and the Phillies sacrificed some real depth here to improve their bullpen. Sands, who spent the entire season on the 40-man roster and only a brief September stint in the majors, is considered the first bat catcher with concerns about his defensive game. — Gelb

The Tigers fill a number of their needs — right-handed outfielder, left-handed infield bat, and catcher — with this trade, but it’s unclear whether the players they received in return will become true MLB regulars. — Stavenhagen

Required reading

(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)


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