Phillies Acquire RHP Clay Buchholz

Yesterday, the Phillies traded a minor league infielder to the Boston Red Sox for veteran RHP Clay Buchholz.  The Phillies will assume the final, $13.5M year of the pitcher’s contract.  To acquire Buchholz, the Phillies relquished former Florida third baseman, Josh Tobias.  To make room on their 40-man roster, they DFA-ed recent waiver claim 3B Richie Shaffer.

Buchholz pitched his way into Boston’s bullpen twice last season.  Although, he did finish strong in 4 of his final appearances, all starts.

Tobias was the Phillies #10 pick in the 2015 draft.  He hit well at Williamsport and Lakewood, but struggled a bit during his late call up to Clearwater last season.  A third baseman in college, Tobias was immediately transitioned to second base by the Phillies. Five of his starts last season came in left field.

Tobias had the misfortune of being in the same draft class as 2B Scott Kingery and would likely be blocked by Kingery for the duration of his time with the organization.

I hesitated posting a story about this article, but doubts linger.  I understand that acquiring pitching is a good thing, especially on cheap, short contracts.  And there is the possibility of a flip at the trade deadline.  And losing Tobias doesn’t hurt organization depth too much.

But, my first thought was are the SP who are recovering from injury not as close to returning for ST and the start of the season as we were led to believe?  Are the Phillies not as confident in the other SP who made their debuts last season as we are?  Are other SP prospects in the upper minors not as close as we hoped?  I discussed this ad infinitum via messaging with friends from ST yesterday.

A couple days ago, Matt Klentak said the Phillies were interested in but not openly looking at adding another hitter or reliever (likely a reserve outfielder so as not to take playing time away from their young outfielders).  Additionally Klentak stated,  “We continue to prioritize roster flexibility and payroll flexibility so players that are in position to sign shorter term contracts are going to be more appealing to us.”  Is Buchholz a starter or the reliever they wanted?  Or both?

And then today, friends from the Philadelphia area who are Red Sox fans posted on my FB page, “What do you think of the Phillies trade for Buchholz? Being a Red Sox fan, I love it that he’s finally gone.”

I don’t have a problem with the trade itself.  However, I look at the acquisition as getting a guy who will take 150 IP away from the younger prospect or prospects I would rather see pitch.


27 thoughts on “Phillies Acquire RHP Clay Buchholz

  1. I am with you on all fronts, and see Tobias’s ceiling as a Lenny Harris type player. A bat first guy who has no true position at the highest level. However I am not sure we can say that he will play 18 years in the big leagues like Harris did.

    On the Buchholz side of this deal here is what I could see happening. I think if he pitches average or above innings he will be moved at the deadline albeit a smaller prospect group coming back due to him being a FA at seasons end. But this is the catch. I think the Phils are putting something together to send to Colorado for Charlie Blackmon! Would a package of Quinn/Neris/one of the young starters be enough to land the Lefty OF stick the Phillies need and covet?? Time will tell. But adding a proven starter into the mix would relieve the gap of innings needed if the team makes a play for Blackmon.

    And for me personally, I would love to see the Phightins add that beared lumberjack upper tank homer dropping stud.

    1. Absolutely not enough. I know this a polite and respectful site, but your proposition is preposterous. Add possibly two more high level prospects, and, maybe, just maybe a deal gets done.

        1. Again many on here suggest a 6man rotation. YOU CAN’T DO THAT WITH A 25 man roster. You lose either a reliever or bench player by doing that. KAPEESH??

          1. But 8mark…the new CBA gave teams the opportunity to change the make-up of the roster construction …didn’t it with 26?
            Or was that tabled?

          2. 6 Man rotation could work if the next days starter is also available for long relief if the starter gets shelled early.

            A spare IF, A spare of, A spare catch, A spare IB/OF and a spare If/Of are all that’s needed. Teach you pitchers how to hit like a regular player. Their making enough money!

      1. VV and 2-3 of our top 15 prospects doesn’t get a deal done? Actually I am not asking you that because like you, me and everyone else on here we do not know. Preposterous is the Phillies sitting on their hands and hoping 5-7 of these guys end up above average big league regulars.

      2. Quinn, Neris, a top major league pitching prospect (maybe Jake or Zach?), and another top 10 position player would be the least to get Blackmon talks started. Remember it took the Rangers 5 prospects to land Hamels (the 6th player, Harrison, was a money wash). Cole was a more established commodity than Blackmon, however the latter is still an everyday impact position player. You wouldn’t have to surrender quite as much for JD Martinez. Just saying….

    2. I sure hope this doesn’t lead to a trade that for Blackmon. Why trade away 4 very good young players for a 30 year old outfielder with one good previous season? Way to much, Blackmon won’t be that helpful, don’t set back the rebuild and current team for traded many good players we have for Blackmon.

      1. Bob…I also look at it that way.
        He actually runs 31 a day after the cutoff day for age/season.
        And last season he was a 4.4WAR player …his best season so far.
        Not sure he can sustain that production beyond another 2/3 years.
        If I were inclined to trade for him I would start the negotiation on the low end from a Phillies vantage point.

  2. If the Phillies have a lot of healthy studs coming out of spring training, then they should go with a six man rotation. That will save the stress on the arms a little and give them looks at the younger pitchers.

    1. Steven,

      Okay, I’m going to say something totally crazy: Let’s go back to the four-man rotation.

      I’d rather have Steve Carlton pitch every fourth day than every fifth. And Certainly every fourth day than every sixth.

      We now have five-man rotations and innings limits and pitch counts and we don’t have any better starting pitching than we had before.

      Maybe, just maybe, all the mumbo-jumbo about five man rotations is just that, mumbo-jumbo.

      Are there any fewer pitcher injuries today? Are there any fewer Tommy John surgeries. Heck, TJ surgery has almost become a rite of passage.

      People talk about pitchers today throwing more off-season, etc. Okay, the solution is to throw less off-season.

      What we might have today isn’t so much physical science or sound baseball than player agents wielding their influence.

      Think about it: if pitching is at a premium, then why throw a weaker pitcher out their every fifth day and reduce the use of your best pitchers by 20 percent?

      I’m putting on my helmet to protect from the attacks to come.

      1. You have a good point about the off-season stuff. Athletes in general who make it to the top level of sports are generally more overworked from a younger age than they were 30 years ago.

  3. Great, great article about Clay from

    “Of course, a big part of why fans couldn’t stand Buchholz had less do with his actual performance and how grating his outings were. In the PITCHf/x era of 2008-present, there have been 1,642 starting pitcher seasons with at least 50 innings pitched. Of them, the two that rank as the slowest in terms of Pace — the time between pitches, which is one of the few things that a starting pitcher controls almost exclusively — are Josh Beckett in 2011 (26.9 seconds) and Clay Buchholz in 2011 (26.7).”

    Love the trade. You can never have enough pitching. And takes some of the pressure off the younger guys.


    Next up:

    Another step removed:

    Thompson pitched scared once he reached The Show last year–let him regain his confidence in AAA. And there’s no rush in getting Elfin or Lively up–let them ply their trade down below. Asher and Morgan are more spot starters / 6th men anyway.

    And all pitching staffs suffer injuries–maybe Nola doesn’t comeback 100%? Maybe VV’s arm acts up again? Heck, maybe Clay gets hurt–he’s seen the DL more than once.

    Also, though, this could open up a trade. VV is under team control for a few years, and had some lights-out games last year. Maybe we trade high on him, now that we have a full stable?

    And of course both Hell and Clay are eligible to be traded at the deadline, opening up a spot or two for our next batch of starters. Maybe even Pivetta, Appel or Leiter will be ready for the rotation by then.

    All in all, I think its a great trade for us.

      1. saw a couple articles from a couple seasons ago where Joaquin Benoit was timed at an average 30 seconds between pitches. A game featuring Buchholz and Benoit could take forever.

    1. Agree Fritz. Would add that every one of the young starters who will be ‘slighted’ out of spring training will inevitably see plenty of innings which the Phillies by season’s end, even if their first few starts of the year come at Lehigh Valley

    2. Maybe our new analytics department has found a competitive advantage in slower pitch to the plate times…hence the acquisitions of Buchholz and Benoit.

      1. Also, the Phillies have to try to ensure Buchholtz and Benoit avoid pitching in the last game of a series……they will piss off the umps, who want to catch the earliest plane out of town to their next destination.

  4. Jim, I’m with you that my first thought was that maybe the guys coming off injury aren’t ready for ST/opening day so this is a way to bridge that gap and eat up some early season innings until they are ready. Also a way to ease them back and limit innings.

    Once those guys are ready and if Buchholz is pitching well, then he’s a trade candidate. If he’s stinking up the place, then they can move him to the pen like the Sox did in 2016.

    Don’t know that I like the trade overall but it’s not a big deal one way or the other..

  5. A little optimism here….Clay did well in his final several starts supposedly because he altered his mechanics and pitches now from the stretch. Perhaps that could continue….It may take evaluations a while to figure out his role for the ’17 season. They surely are rolling the dice. mIF his new adjustments are working, he’ll have a good first half which should make him an attractive trade piece then. It might turn out that way…or he could be as bad as he’d been with the Sox before his last few starts. Watch and see if we rolled a “7.”

    1. Plenty. If the Phillies get the 2013 or 2015 version, he could be moved for a prospect rated higher than Tobias (who I liked) at next year’s deadline. Buchholz should also benefit from moving from the AL East to the NL East

  6. Adding—>the lead article here is worth our attention. He asks a lot of questions which will take some time to answer. The loss of innings by our young ‘uns IS a concern. The issues of Nolan’s arm and the rest of the bunch’s readiness to compete at the MLB level may be taken as unsettled….as I too would rather get them settled in which seems to be limited with Clay (& Hellboy) taking innings away with Hellboy’s necessary innings due to his contract acceptance of the QO. IF the plan is to take the team up to the trading deadline and then deal BOTH of the away, what kind of return could we expect then? We need for Clay to do well like his few final starts w the Sox….!! And Hellboy, also will be pitching for his free agency. After such june-July trades (hopefully) the doors will be open for the most worthy pitchers from Lehigh Valley. Let’s hope so.

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