Looking to add depth to a bullpen that’s been hit hard by injuries this season, the Phillies signed Aaron Heilman to a minor league contract on Thursday, CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury reports. He’ll step into a Triple-A Lehigh Valley relief corps that just lost Jason Grilli to the Pirates.
Heilman was cut by the Diamondbacks after amassing a 6.81 ERA in 35 1/3 innings this season. The stats, however, say he wasn’t nearly that bad. He had 33 strikeouts versus just 11 walks, but he was doomed by giving up eight homers, which is twice as many as one would have expected based on his career rate.
Heilman’s velocity is down a bit this year, but he’s continued to get plenty of swings and misses. He’s still a decent enough bet as a sixth- and seventh-inning guy, and the Phillies might want to go ahead and release Danys Baez to make room for him after he gets a few innings under his belt.
Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.
Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.
He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips used his veto rights to turn down a pair of trades this offseason, balking at deals that would have sent him to the Nationals and the Diamondbacks.
All of which means, despite the presence of second baseman of the future Jose Peraza, the Reds will continue to start Phillips at second base this season. Or as manager Bryan Price told C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer:
It looks like Brandon is with us. Brandon, for me, is a second baseman of tremendous value and talent, it’s hard to just assign someone else that job. If Brandon’s with us, I expect him to be playing second base.
Phillips is under control for 2016 and 2017, so something has to give at some point before then if the Reds truly believe Peraza is their long-term answer at second base.
Rosencrans notes that Phillips was actually willing to accept both trades proposed to him, but wanted more money to agree to join the Nationals or the Diamondbacks. And general manager Walt Jocketty says the chances of another Phillips trade happening are “remote” at this point.
Left-hander Jesse Biddle, a 2010 first-round draft pick who twice ranked among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, has been designated for assignment by the Phillies.
Biddle is coming off Tommy John elbow surgery in October, so it’s possible he’ll clear waivers and continue his rehab with the Phillies while missing most or all of the 2016 season.
Biddle posted big strikeouts numbers in the low minors, but poor control began to derail his career even before his elbow blew out. At age 24 he still has plenty of time to get back on track, but it’ll be as a reclamation project.
The Phillies announced this afternoon that they signed outfielder David Lough to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
With his ability to play all three outfield positions, Lough has been a useful bench piece in the past, but he batted just .201/.241/.313 with four home runs and 12 RBI over 144 plate appearances with the Orioles last season. The 30-year-old was non-tendered by Baltimore in December.
While there’s opportunity with the rebuilding Phillies, it could be a challenge for Lough to make the Opening Day roster. As things stand right now, Odubel Herrera, Peter Bourjos, Aaron Altherr, Cody Asche are ahead of him on the depth chart and the club could be compelled to keep Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel.