Phillies trade Matt Vierling, Nick Maton for Tigers closer Gregory Soto
Phillies trade Vierling and Maton for Tigers' closer originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Phillies have acquired left-handed reliever Gregory Soto from the Detroit Tigers, the latest in a series of additions to the back end of their bullpen.
The Phils will send utilityman Nick Maton, outfielder Matt Vierling and catcher Donny Sands to Detroit for Soto and utilityman Kody Clemens, Roger's son.
Soto is a hard-throwing, high-leverage lefty who has spent the last two seasons as the Tigers' closer. In 126 games over that time, he saved 48 games with a 3.34 ERA. He allowed plenty of baserunners both years, walking 74 in 124 innings with a 1.36 WHIP, but he also limited the longball, allowing just nine. Some of that was owed to the spacious dimensions of Comerica Park, a luxury he won't be afforded at Citizens Bank Park.
Soto turns 28 in February. This offseason is his first of three years of arbitration eligibility and he isn't set to become a free agent until after the 2025 season. He made $722,400 last season and is projected to see an increase to the $3 million range this year.
READ MORE: Dombrowski discusses how Soto trade came together
The Phillies are trading players who helped them win games last season in Vierling and Maton but they're also bringing back a talented reliever in the prime of his career and under club control. Their revamped bullpen now has two tough right-handers in Seranthony Dominguez and Craig Kimbrel and two hard-throwing lefties in Soto and Jose Alvarado. There's a lot of swing-and-miss and late-game experience in that group, though Kimbrel, Alvarado and Soto are all prone to occasional or sometimes more than occasional bouts of wildness.
The Phillies also have lefty Matt Strahm, their first bullpen addition of the offseason. He was signed to a two-year, $15 million contract. Dominguez, Kimbrel, Soto, Alvarado, Strahm and right-handers Connor Brogdon and Andrew Bellatti will likely claim seven of the bullpen's eight or nine spots, barring injury.
Others in the picture include lefty swingmen Bailey Falter and Cristopher Sanchez, long reliever Nick Nelson, Sam Coonrod and prospects Francisco Morales and Andrew Baker.
It is unclear who will close. Dominguez and Alvarado saved games for the Phillies last season, Kimbrel is a future Hall of Fame closer but lost his job with the Dodgers in September after an up-and-down six months, and Soto has been a closer the last season and a half. The Phillies have spent the majority of the last two seasons without a defined closer and could mix and match based on matchups and who is throwing well.
This has been an extremely busy offseason for president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies after the team lost in six games in the World Series to the Astros. The Phils have signed Trea Turner for $300 million, Taijuan Walker for $72 million, Strahm for $15 million, Kimbrel for $10 million and now added Soto to their bullpen mix.
The trade will put the Phillies' luxury tax payroll at approximately $254 million. The first luxury tax threshold for 2023 is $233 million. The Phillies exceeded it last year and would be subject to a 30 percent tax on all overages this year. If they exceed the tax by more than $20 million, there is a 12.5 percent surcharge. Teams' luxury tax bills are calculated at the end of the season.