The Phillies continued their aggressive offseason on Friday, acquiring two-time All-Star Gregory Soto from the Detroit Tigers. Infielder Nick Maton, outfielder Matt Vierling and catcher Donny Sands are headed back to the Motor City, with the Phillies also getting infielder Kody Clemens in the deal.
Soto is yet another major addition for Phillies President of Baseball Operations David Dombrowski, who has already reeled in Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, Craig Kimbrel and Matt Strahm this winter. Soto will slot in as a third reliable lefty option for the Phils, alongside Strahm and José Alvarado.
The 27-year-old made a name for himself over the past three years with the Tigers, riding a triple-digits fastball and wipeout slider to All-Star berths in both 2021 and 2022. Across 204.2 career innings pitched, Soto has a cumulative 4.13 ERA and 1.49 WHIP for a decent 104 OPS+. However, he’s been dominant over the past two seasons, posting a 3.34 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 124.0 innings for an outstanding 121 ERA+. Soto piles up strikeouts in droves, as evidenced by his 9.9 K/9 over the past two years, but also has struggled mightily with his command with a 5.4 B/9. Phillies fans are hopeful that Pitching Coach Caleb Cotham can work some of the same magic that he used with Alvarado to get the walks under control, and add yet another terrifying left arm to the bullpen.
As for the other piece coming to Philadelphia, Kody Clemens brings plenty of pedigree, but not much of a big league track record. The son of Roger Clemens, Kody made his major league debut this past May, and ultimately made his way into 56 contests with the Tigers. The utility infielder slashed .145/.197/.308 across 127 plate appearances for a brutal 45 OPS+. He’s hit much better in the minors however, posting OPS marks of .816, .708, .767 and .862 over his last four seasons. The 26-year-old will be controllable for six more seasons and has two minor league options remaining, and will likely serve as infield depth for a revamped Phillies team.
The return going back to the Tigers is somewhat significant, as the Phils sacrificed two useful bench pieces and some catching depth. Maton is the most notable name, as the 25-year-old utilityman has slashed a solid .254/.330/.434 in 216 plate appearances thus far in his career. Vierling got plenty of playing time last year prior to the Brandon Marsh trade, but struggled to a .246/.297/.351 line across 357 trips to the plate. Sands made his big league debut in September and made his way into only three games, going hitless in four plate appearances.
This one goes down as a classic Dombrowski trade, with the World Series hopeful Phillies trading away three young, controllable depth pieces to address an area of need. Seeing as Soto comes with three more years of team control, this isn’t a pure win-now move, but it is yet another attempt to upgrade a team that took home the National League pennant last year.