Phillies Add Parker, Assign Eflin to Ailing Bullpen
With approximately 24 hours until the Major League Baseball trade deadline, the Phillies were making moves. No, they were not in the form of a trade. Instead it was a demotion from the starting rotation and a free agent signing. With both moves, the Phillies added two new faces to their bullpen.
The first move came in a free agent signing. Reliever Blake Parker, who rejected a minor league outright assignment from the Minnesota Twins and declared free agency, signed a major league contract with the Phillies, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Matt Gelb. Parker was 1-2 with a 4.21 earned run average for the Twins in 2019.
In seven major league seasons, Parker has pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, and Twins. Parker walked way from a $1.8 million deal with Minnesota, so perhaps he will earn a comparable pro-rated amount with the Phillies.
The Phillies also announced that the newly-acquired Jason Vargas will start on Friday against the Chicago White Sox. That move will bump Zach Eflin out of the starting rotation and into the bullpen. Despite describing himself as feeling "heavy", Eflin will not hit the injured list, it would appear.
The Phillies will have to make a roster decision, too. After adding Vargas, the club designated for assignment the contract of pitcher Yacksel Rios. To add Parker the Phillies will need to clear a major league roster space and a 40-man roster space.
It's likely Edgar Garcia will be returned to Triple-A. After that, it will be an interesting decision. Relievers Hector Neris, Adam Morgan, Jose Alvarez, and Nick Pivetta appear entrenched in the bullpen.
The Phillies would have to cut Juan Nicasio or Mike Morin to open a roster spot there. Ranger Suarez has pitched well enough to stick around. However, a demotion to Triple-A for Suarez could make depth for when rosters expand in September. Or, Nicasio or Morin could exit the organization completely.
Third baseman Mitch Walding is a candidate to be outrighted off of the 40-man roster should the Phillies need a spot there.
The Phillies could replace one of those pitchers between now and the trade deadline, however.
Elfin got off to a very promising start in 2019, particularly in April and May. Eflin threw a complete game in each, the first time a Phillies starter had done so since Eflin himself in July of 2016. Eflin has a 12.64 earned run average in July. Prior to the All-Star Break, Eflin had a 3.84 earned run average.
This could be how the bullpen looks heading down the stretch. The news has not be discouraging for four of the primary Phillies relievers. David Robertson, once thought to re-join the Phillies in late July, is now looking like a September return, if at all. Pat Neshek will either return in late September if at all. Tommy Hunter recently underwent surgery. Seranthony Dominguez could be facing "Tommy John" surgery in a worst-case scenario.