Phillies acquire Gregory Soto from Tigers: What All-Star bench brings to Philly

Philadelphia Phillies acquire All-Star left-hander Gregory Soto in trade with Detroit Tigers, team announcement Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Soto, a second-straight All-Star last season, recorded 30 saves with a 3.28 ERA in 60.5 innings pitched.
  • In return, the Tigers will get Nick Maton, Matt Vierling and Donny Sands from Philadelphia.
  • Detroit infielder Cody Clemens — the son of Roger Clemens — will also be sent to the Phillies as part of the five-player deal.

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Why the Phillies win after Soto

In Soto, the Phillies got their platonic ideal rescuer. He has first-rate stuff and dubious orders. The Phillies have successfully used a similar left-handed pitcher — Jose Alvarado — and they can apply some lessons to Soto.

With Soto and Alvarado in the bullpen, the Phillies will have two of the best left-handed pitchers in the sport, as measured by Statcast. Alvarado’s fastball will average 99.6 mph in 2022, while Soto’s 98.4 mph. Since joining the Phillies, Dave Dombrowski has made speed a priority when building his bullpen. The deal reflects that. Now, Phillies head coach Rob Thomson has as many as six interchangeable reserves at the end of the game in Alvarado, Soto, Cerantoni Dominguez, Craig Kimbrel , Matt Strahm and Connor Brogdon. It’s an interesting combination. — yellow

Phillies’ expectations for Soto, Clemens

Soto could do well as a seventh- or eighth-inning reliever on a contending team. His stuff may be nasty, but his smell rate dropped to worrying levels toward the end of last season, ranking 53rd in the MLB percentile. The disappearance of Soto’s slider hampered him last season, using just 21.6 percent of his time, compared to 37.6 percent in 2021. Inconsistency is in Soto’s nature, but when he has the ball, he can dominate.

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

what the tigers got in return

Vierling and Maton were two role players on last season’s National League Championship team, and while they both have intriguing skill sets, the Phillies are willing to trade them for more meaningful contributors. Vierling is the fourth best outfielder for lefties. He always hits the ball hard, but often hits the ground. Matton can play all over the floor and show some flashes, but the Phillies have always been reluctant to overexpose him in normal minutes.

Those two young players were a source of energy on surprise runs, and even when they weren’t playing, the Phillies sacrificed some real depth to improve their bullpen. Sands, who spent all season on the 40-man roster and only had a brief stint in the majors in September, is considered a hit-first receiver but has concerns about his defensive game. — yellow

The Tigers met their plethora of needs with the trade — a right-handed outfielder, a left-handed infield bat and a catcher — but it’s unclear whether the players they got in return will be real MLB regular. — Stavenhagen

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(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY)

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