The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired LHP Jose Alvarado from the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers sent 1B Dillon Paulson and a player to be named later to the Rays, while the Phillies sent LHP Garrett Cleavinger to the Dodgers.
The Phillies didn't just have the worst bullpen in baseball last year, they might have had the worst bullpen ever. With an ERA over 7.00, it's definitely an area that new President Dave Dombrowski and new GM Sam Fuld want to improve on. Alvarado is a four year veteran with a hard sinker that in 2019 averaged 98.1 mph. That dipped to 96.9 in nine appearances in 2020, but that's still potent. Also, his pitches move like this. Alvarado was lights out in 2018, with a 2.39 ERA and an 11.3 K/9 in 64 innings, but he's fallen off a little bit since then, with injuries playing a big role in that. He's young too, actually more than a year younger than the guy the Phillies gave up, Cleavinger. Even if he repeats his weak 2019, where he finished with a 4.80 ERA, it is still an improvement on what the pen gave the Phillies last year.
Alvarado, 25, had a 6.00 ERA with a 1.667 WHIP, 13 strikeouts and a 5.86 FIP in nine innings for the Rays in 2020. In his MLB career, all in Tampa Bay, Alvarado has a 3.46 ERA with a 1.319 WHIP, 161 strikeouts, 15 saves and a 3.01 FIP in 132.2 innings.
The Rays have too many good relievers that it's actually a problem. By the end of the postseason of this year, Alvarado's injuries and poor play made him expendable. The team loves to trade talent for prospects, and this move can make sense, unlike the Blake Snell trade from yesterday. Even in that deal, the Rays got Luis Patino, who could be the next star reliever for them in 2021. A 13th rounder by the Dodgers in 2018, Paulson hit well in his last year at the University of Southern California, with an .874 OPS. He's spent a year and a half in the minors, and has good offensive numbers.
Paulson, 23, hit 16 home runs with a .243 average and an OPS of .798 in 503 Plate Appearances in 2019 between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Single-A Great Lakes. In his minor league career, Paulson has hit 26 home runs with a .253 average and an OPS of .837 in 778 Plate Appearances.
This trade is least significant for the Dodgers, who make a prospect swap. While one of the outgoing prospects is TBD, they bring in Cleavinger, a 2015 3rd rounder by the Orioles who they traded to the Phillies with Hyun Soo Kim in 2017 for Jeremy Hellickson. When the Phillies were at the stage where they were watching whoever threw out the first pitch and scouting him or her for their bullpen, Cleavinger was one of the guys who got a call to the majors. He pitched in one game, striking Andres Gimenez, but allowing a home run to Robinson Cano in two thirds of an inning. In the minors in 2019, Cleavinger had nice numbers as a reliever, and while he isn't young, he could be a AAA or MLB bullpen option for the Dodgers.
Cleavinger, 26, had a 3.66 ERA with 83 strikeouts and a 1.277 WHIP in 51.2 innings for AA Reading in 2019. In his minor league career, Cleavinger has a 4.08 ERA with 294 strikeouts and a 1.389 WHIP in 220.1 innings.