The Phillies made a pair of selections in this past winter’s Rule 5 draft. They took second baseman Odubel Herrera from the Rangers and converted him to a center fielder, and they took left-handed pitcher Andy Oliver from the Pirates. Oliver was competing for a spot in the Phillies’ bullpen and impressed early, but faltered late. Ultimately, he finished with a 3.55 ERA with a 22/11 K/BB ratio in 12 2/3 Grapefruit League innings.
Oliver was put on waivers, the first step in an attempt by the Phillies to fully acquire his rights from the Pirates. If he had passed through, the Phillies could have worked out a trade. Otherwise, Rule 5 picks must stay on the team’s 25-man roster for the duration of the season. After Oliver cleared waivers, the Phillies outrighted Oliver to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but he chose instead to elect free agency.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro still seems a bit salty about Oliver’s decision to leave. Via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki:
“We offered him a pretty good deal to come back,” Amaro said. “He just decided to go somewhere else. I think it was a very foolish move on his part, but that’s OK. He had a choice. He had that right.”
The Phillies recently designated southpaw Cesar Jimenez for assignment to make room for Sean O’Sullivan. Jimenez is now with Lehigh Valley, but won’t be eligible for a promotion for another week. With Mario Hollands injured and Elvis Araujo in the minors, Jake Diekman is currently the only left-handed pitcher in the Phillies’ bullpen.
The Rays signed Oliver to a minor league contract earlier this week, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reported. Oliver was a former top starting pitching prospect in the Tigers’ system but was converted to a reliever last season with the Pirates at Triple-A Indianapolis.