Gregory Soto trade: Phillies get left-handed pitcher from Tigers in five-player swap

The Philadelphia Phillies acquired left-hander Gregory Soto from the Detroit Tigers on Saturday as part of a five-man swap. The two teams announced the deal Saturday afternoon, with the Phillies trading Soto and infielder Cody Clemens for outfielder Matt Welling, utility player Nick Marton and catcher Donnie Sands.

Soto, who turns 28 next month, has spent most of the past two seasons as Detroit’s stopper. Overall, he’s amassed a 3.34 ERA (121 ERA+) and a 1.84 strikeout rate, a number that’s been weighed down by his wildness. In fact, Soto’s 2021-22 season ranks second among 22 pitchers with at least 30 saves in walks (13.7 percent); only Aroldis Chapman, currently a free agent, has a higher percentage of hitters .

Still, the Phillies find Soto intriguing, in part because of his combination of stuff and deception. Last season, his fastball averaged over 98 mph. He also throws from an unusual release point that sees him get a deep stretch from the lower arm slot. That combination certainly helps explain why he has struck out more than one hitter per inning in his career.

Soto remains under the team’s control throughout the 2025 season, making him a potential long-term fit as far as backup options go.

Soto is the third notable addition the Phillies have made to their bullpen this winter. Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld previously signed Matt Strahm and Craig Kimbrel. The latter’s arrival led Dombrowski to hint that the Phillies might be heading into the season closer to the committee.

“don’t say [Kimbrel] It’s not going to end the game or say that’s not going to happen, but it’s important to discuss it beforehand,” Dombrowski told “We feel like we have the makings of a really good bullpen. We’ve got a lot of guys who can throw late games with a one-run lead, and we think that’s really important. “

It’s unclear if the Phillies will change their philosophy with Soto’s arrival. Manager Rob Thomson seems more likely heading into the season with the intention of mixing and matching based on play and availability.

Clemens, 26, is best known as one of Roger’s sons. Last season, he made his major league debut, hitting .145/0.197/0.308 (45 OPS+) in 56 games, and he had 25 more strikeouts than walks. Clemens has shown good raw power on the left side of the minors, but his penchant for nitpicking limits his offensive ceiling. He thinks of the action as a backup bat.

The Tigers get three hitters in return, and they should be in the big leagues for the 2023 season.

Vierling, 26, is the most accomplished of the three. He’s hitting .260/.309/.374 (91 OPS+) in 151 major league appearances over the past two seasons while making most of his action in center field. The Tigers ostensibly view Vierling as an upside-down player based on how hard he hits the ball. He averaged in the 86th percentile and maxed out in the 82nd percentile for out-of-ball velocity last season, suggesting there’s more power in his bat than his slashes might suggest.

Marton, 25, played an impressive 34 games with the Phillies last season, improving his career slash line to .254/.330/.434 (109 OPS+) in 216 on-base attempts. Note that the Maton does swing, and misses out a lot for players without high power output. That said, his 2022 breather rate of 35.4 percent is well above the league average of 24.7 percent.

Sands, 26, played three games for the major league club last season. In 57 Triple-A games, he hit .309/.413/.428 and walked almost as many times as he struck out. The Tigers do have two other catchers on their 40-player roster, Eric Haas and Jake Rodgers, suggesting Sands could be in the minors if the Tigers don’t make another trade or get injured before the season starts. The Humans kicked off the year.

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