The Detroit Tigers have dealt Gregory Soto to the city of brotherly love
The Detroit Tigers have reportedly agreed to a trade that would send LHP Gregory Soto and INF Kody Clemens to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for OF Matt Vierling, INF Nick Maton, and C Donny Sands. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia first said the Phillies and Tigers were in discussions.
Soto, 27, with three years on team control left, has been acquired for three young and controllable bats that were depth pieces on a stacked Phillies team. These three players could get a chance to shine on a bad Tigers team in 2023.
There's a lot to unpack here. First, let's start with what the Phillies got. Soto is coming off back-to-back All-Star seasons. He regressed a bit last season as he struggled with his control and basically only had one pitch.
He's the perfect type of reliever for Phillies POBO Dave Dombrowski. He's a hard thrower that often has no idea where it's going. He hasn't changed at all from his days in Detroit. Meanwhile, Clemens was probably just a throw-in to complete the trade.
Now, let's dive in to what the Tigers got. We'll start with Vierling, a 26-year-old OF with an interesting set of skills. His Baseball Savant page suggests he should have had a better slash line of .246/.297.351 in 2022. He also runs very fast and has a strong arm in the outfield, something the Tigers don't really have outside of Riley Greene, who isn't even that fast.
Vierling is also right-handed, which gives Scott Harris that right-handed outfielder he's been searching for all offseason. I would imagine he slots straight into right field. Not a bad player, probably the highlight for the Tigers.
Maton is a 25-year-old left-handed hitting utlityman. He had a solid season in 85 plate appearances last year, with a 135 wRC+ and an .855 OPS. Sadly, the analytics say he was getting pretty lucky, He had a high BABIP, an expected batting average (xBA) of .217 compared to his actually BA of .250, and an xSLG of .357 compared to his actually slugging percentage of .514.
However, the profile is there. He walks a good amount, even if he has a tendency to swing and miss. He's still young as well, so there's upside.
Finally, Sands, 26, is the only prospect included in this deal. He's the 21st ranked Phillies prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He's hit well at every level of the minors. He gives the Tigere even more catching depth to go along with Marco Feliciano and Michael Papierski.
Phew. That was a lot. This is Scott Harris's first big trade since taking over as the team's president of baseball operations. So how did he do?
Well, the return may seem underwhelming on the surface. Not getting any top prospects for a reliever with three years of team control left may seem disappointing for some. But you've got to remember that this is just how Harris operates.
He likes to play the upside game. None of these names are flashy, but they all have high upside with the profiles that Harris likes. We saw that time and time again when he was in San Francisco. Guys like JD Davis, Mike Yastrzemski, and LaMonte Wade became everyday players for the Giants after being no-names for other teams. He's banking on the new coaching staff and player dev hires for the Tigers to makes these players better.
Scott Harris is not Al Avila. He has a plan. This trade is the first time we've really seen that plan in action. Hopefully we'll see more of that plan very soon.