Phillies Acquire Gregory Soto in Five-Player Trade With Tigers

Image credit: (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

A year after reaching the World Series, the Phillies are continuing to strengthen their roster for 2023. On Saturday they acquired lefthanded relief pitcher Gregory Soto and second baseman Koby Clemens from the Tigers in exchange for three players—outfielder Matt Vierling, infielder Nick Maton and catcher Donny Sands.

The trio of players heading to Detroit each debuted for the Phillies in recent years but have yet to establish themselves as regulars. With plenty of opportunities for the Tigers in 2023, Maton, Vierling and Sands should all see an uptick in playing time. The Phillies are attempting to fortify a bullpen that’s already added former all-star closer Craig Kimbrel and lefthander Matt Strahm.


Gregory Soto, LHP
Age: 27 

Signed by the Tigers out of the Dominican Republic back in 2012, Soto broke into the Tigers bullpen in 2019. Over the last two seasons, Soto has saved 49 games as the Tigers primary closer. A powerful lefthander, Soto sits 98-99 mph, touching triple-digits at peak while using both a four-seam and two-seam shape. A high-80s slider is Soto’s primary secondary, seeing around 20% of his pitch usage overall. While Soto does technically have a changeup and curveball, neither pitch is rarely thrown in games. Despite excellent stuff, Soto has struggled with command throughout his career, and he walked 12.9% of the batters he faced in 2022. 

Kody Clemens, 2B
Age: 26 

The son of multi-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens, the younger Clemens is a versatile defender who has flashed above-average power in the upper minors. Clemens played in 57 games for the Tigers in 2022 but hit just .145/.197/.308 in limited at-bats. He’s capable of filling in at first base, second base, third base and left field. While Clemens’ major league debut was certainly underwhelming, he’s been a productive hitter in Triple-A across the last two seasons, hitting .256/.316/.488 with 31 home runs over 160 games. 


Matt Vierling, OF
Age: 26 

The former fifth-rounder was a trendy breakout pick entering 2022. After a strong debut in 2021 that saw Vierling hit .324/.364/.479 over 24 games, the speedy Vierling struggled in 2022 as a part-time player, hitting just .246/.297/.351 over 117 games. He did, however, establish himself as a short-side platoon option, hitting .295/.333/.426 against lefthanders. He provides the Tigers with a potential platoon option for Austin Meadows, who is a career .237/.296/.401 hitter against southpaws. 

Nick Maton, SS 
Age: 25

No player in this trade likely benefits more from a change of scenery than Maton. After showing flashes of a power breakout in limited playing time in 2022, Maton finds himself flush with opportunities with the Tigers in 2023. Over 35 games with the Phillies, Maton slugged .514 with an 11.8% walk rate, both significant improvements from his 2021 debut. With experience at shortstop, third base, second base and center field, Maton could provide value for the Tigers on both sides of the ball. While his power uptick was a welcome development, his strikeout rate jumped to a frightening 34.1% in 2022. If Maton can continue to get on base and hit for power while managing his strikeouts he has a chance to see a playing time increase in 2023. 

Donny Sands, C 
Age: 26 

Acquired by the Phillies from the Yankees prior to the 2022 season, Sands made his major league debut with the Phillies in September following a strong season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Sands has a strong combination of skills on both sides of the ball that could make him an immediate backup catching option for the Tigers next season. An average hitter with a combination of contact and plate discipline, Sands should hit for a high average and on-base percentage. He’s a below-average power hitter but shows gap-to-gap power. Sands earns rave reviews for his leadership and ability to handle the pitching staff. He is a strong framer and receiver but is limited by a below-average throwing arm for the catching position. 

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