Image credit: Brandon Workman (Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty)
The Phillies made a minor move to bolster their MLB-worst bullpen Friday afternoon.
A few hours later, they made a much bigger move to fortify it even more.
The Phillies acquired relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from the Red Sox late Friday in exchange for righthanded starter Nick Pivetta and pitching prospect Connor Seabold. The Phillies also received $815,000 in cash to cover Workman and Hembree’s salaries plus a player to be named later or additional cash considerations.
The Phillies bullpen entered Friday with an 8.07 ERA, worst in the majors by nearly two runs. The Red Sox, meanwhile, acquired desperately-needed starting pitching for both the present and future.
Red Sox acquire:
Nick Pivetta, RHP
Pivetta’s lack of an effective fastball has prevented him from any sustained success in the majors. Though it averages 93-94 mph and looks good on paper, batters have hit .313, .279, 348 and .357 against his fastball in his four seasons, and overall he is 19-30, 5.50 in his career. The Phillies moved Pivetta to the bullpen midway through last season, but he has a starter’s pedigree and has a chance to return to the rotation with the Red Sox. His curveball and slider have both been effective pitches, and his changeup draws plus grades from scouts even though it has played well below that in the majors. If Pivetta can get his fastball to play better, he has the control and four-pitch mix to start. If not, the possibility of his fastball ticking up in the bullpen makes him a relief option.
Connor Seabold, RHP
A third-round pick of the Phillies in 2017 out of Cal State Fullerton, Seabold is a control-oriented righthander who pounds the strike zone and reached Double-A last season. He missed time last year with an oblique injury, but he returned with four strong outings in the Arizona Fall League and was selected for Team USA’s Olympic qualifying roster, although he ultimately did not participate. Seabold’s fastball sits 89-93 mph and plays up with his impeccable control. His above-average changeup helps neutralizes lefties, but his fringe-average breaking ball needs improvement. Seabold has a long track record of success and profiles as a back-of-the-rotation strikethrower. He should be ready for the majors soon.
Brandon Workman, RHP
Workman was a steady middle reliever for most of his career and began closing games last season for the first time, going 10-1, 1.88 with 16 saves. Workman struggles with walks at times, but he has swing-and-miss stuff and has performed in high-leverage situations. He is signed through this season and will be a free agent after the year.
Heath Hembree, RHP
Hembree had been a steady member of the Red Sox’s bullpen since 2015 and has ably handled middle and late relief roles throughout his career. He has struggled badly against lefties in a small sample size this season and on the whole has been much better against righthanded batters in his career. Hembree will be arbitration-eligible after this season and a free agent after 2021.