Rule 5 Deadline: Phillies Select Three, Trade for Sanchez

The Phillies selected the contracts of pitchers Garrett Cleavinger, JoJo Romero, and Mauricio Llovera and added them to their 40-man roster.  they also traded infielder Curtis Mead to the Rays for LHP Christopher Sanchez.  The Phillies 40-man stands at 39 players.

Cleavinger is a left-handed reliever whom the Orioles drafted in the 3rd round in 2015.  The Phillies acquired him before the trading deadline in 2017 with Hyun Soo Kim as part of the Jeremy Hellickson deal.  The Orioles also received cash.  Cleavinger pitched for Reading in 2019 and compiled a 3-2 record with a 3.66 ERA in 51.2 innings pitched, with 34 walks (5.9 BB9), and 83 strike outs (14.5 K9).

Romero is a left-handed starter who is probably headed to the bullpen after his success with Scottsdale in the AFL.  He was drafted by the Phillies in the 4th round of the 2016 draft.  He competed as a starter in Reading and Lehigh Valley in 2019.  He compiled a combined 7-9 record with a 5.82 ERA in 24 starts, 111.1 innings pitched with 47 walks (3.8 BB9), and 92 strike outs (7.4 K9).

Mauricio Llovera is a right-handed starter signed by the Phillies as a 19-year-old international free agent in 2015 out of Venezuela.  He advanced steadily through the system and played in Reading in 2019.  He compiled a 3-4 record  with a 4.55 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts) and 65.1 innings with 28 walks (3.9 BB9) and 72 strike outs (9.9 K9).  His slider was touted as the best in the system prior to the 2018 season.  He has often been described as a future bullpen pitcher.  It may happen this season.  His 2019 season was shortened by 2 visits to the 7-day IL, the second was season-ending.

Christopher Sanchez was signed by the Rays as an international free agent in 2014 as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic.  He spent all but 2 appearances of his first 5 seasons in rookie ball (3 in the DSL, 2 in the Appalachian League).  He looked impressive in Australia in 2018 (1.76 ERA in 8 appearances for Perth).  He looked good in Advanced A and Full A in 2019 but not so good in his one appearance in AAA.  Even with his disastrous AAA appearance, he posted a combined 4-1, 2.26 in 75.2 innings with 26 walks (3.1 BB9), and 73 strike outs (8.7 K9).  He is currently struggling in winter ball.

Curtis Mead is an 18-year-old infielder the Phillies signed in 2017 as an international free agent out of Australia as a 16-year-old.  He played his first two professional seasons in the GCL and was coming off a .285/351/.462/.813 slash in 44 games, 175 plate appearances.  He hit 4 HR, 12 doubles, and had 19 RBI.  He walked 13 times (7.4%) and struck out 23 times 13.1%).  He played 2 seasons for Adelaide in the ABL, and is playing with Perth and his former Phillies team mates – Mitchell Edwards and Rixon Wingrove.

27 thoughts on “Rule 5 Deadline: Phillies Select Three, Trade for Sanchez

  1. Despite the bad season, JoJo and Llovera are legit major league bullpen arms. Cleavinger is a lefty throwing mid 90s, that’s enough to get you added to a 40.

  2. Didn’t notice this thread (sorry, Jim), and first posted this in the Open Discussion Thread. Sorry to re-post …

    What is Klentak thinking?
    He adds two fringe (and that’s being polite) LHRP prospects (Cleanenger and Sanchez), and ignores Rafael Marchan.
    You gotta’ remember MLB rosters expand to 26 next season. Hiding a prospect like Marchan on a tanking team’s roster won’t be too difficult.

    Maybe they’re projecting more from Sanchez, but (according to the attached video) he’s not a hard thrower. In addition, he’s only averaged 7.3 K/9 IP in six MiLB seasons.

    1. I’m surprised on the catchers being left unprotected. I can see them getting poached for sure. Rosters expand and catchering prospects can be hard to come by. Would seem like a worth while game
      To pluck marchan from us, hold him for the year, and send him to AAA if needed afterwards. Puzzling, I just don’t see the point in exposing him. He’s likely trade bait, they need that kind of second level prospects to get deals done.

    2. I don’t think Marchan is taken by anyone. I can’t remember the last time that a position player was taken who hadn’t even shown he can hit in A ball, let alone hadn’t homered yet as a professional.

      Even with the extra roster spot, it’s tough justifying keeping him. A team would face the choice of giving 150-200 god awful PAs to him as a backup or rostering him as a 3rd catcher. Then they’d have to keep him on the 40 man for an additional year or two while they hope he develops into something useful. I just don’t see it happening.

      1. Good take. Makes sense. I was a little nervous at first but 40 man roster spots are way too valuable (except in 2019 when we had SO much dreck).

      2. Otero it remains to be seen but I think with the 26th spot and the new age tanking that is going on you might see 100 loss teams trying to pluck guys like Marchan.

        We couldn’t believe the Rangers grabbed Tocci a few seasons back. Not that it hurt us.

        I agree with Hinkie better to leave a fringe BP arm unprotected than a catcher with Marchan’s upside.

        Correct me if I am wrong but even with the 26th man roster spot the # of pitchers on your roster is limited thus making it harder for teams to try and stash a pitcher as opposed to a position player.

        1. DMAR….what I read:
          Rule changes that will go into effect at the start of the 2020 season

          Beginning in 2020, the roster size from Opening Day through Aug. 31 (and during the postseason) will increase from 25 to 26, with the minimum number of players on the roster increasing from 24 to 25, and roster sizes for doubleheaders increasing from 26 to 27. The minimum number of days a player will need to remain in the Minors after being optioned will increase from 10 to 15, with the same exceptions in play.
          The 40-man active roster for September will be eliminated. From Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season, all clubs must carry 28 players.
          Furthermore, the number of pitchers a club can carry on the active roster will be capped (maximum number TBD).

          To adhere to that rule, clubs will have to designate each player as either a pitcher or a position player prior to each player’s first day on the active roster for a given season. That designation cannot change for the remainder of the season.

          Position players will not be allowed to pitch except in the following scenarios:
          • They are designated as a “Two-Way Player.” A player can only qualify for this designation if he accrues at least 20 Major League innings pitched and at least 20 Major League games started as a position player or designated hitter (with at least three plate appearances in each of those games) in the current or prior season.
          • A game goes into extra innings.
          • A player’s team is losing or winning by more than six runs when he enters as a pitcher.

          1. Romus, I learned this week at the Complex from one of the Phillies’ front office guys that the pitcher limit has already been agreed to at 13. (However, on Hot Stove today, a reference to the 26-man roster by Joel Sherman sounded like the 13 pitcher limit is still up in the air, or the decision hasn’t been released.)

            The discussion opined that a 13 pitcher limit gives most if not all teams an extra roster spot for a position player. Tanking teams would be more able to take a Marchan-like prospect and stash him for a season on the end of the bench.

            That said, although there is interest in Marchan, he hasn’t yet developed the bat skills to warrant a Rule 5 selection (IMO).

            The Phillies had a rash of injuries to their catching corps last season. I think this caused Marchan (and others) to be promoted ahead of schedule. They even activated Nerluis Martinez in Reading (he had become a “coach”) and signed Nick Hundley in August as depth at Lehigh Valley.

            Catcher injuries (and releases):
            4/4/2019 – LHV placed C Matt McBride on the 7-day IL
            4/22/2019 – Gregori Rivero released by Williamsport
            5/24/2019 – LWD placed C Abrahan Gutierrez on the 7-day IL
            5/23/2019 – CLW placed C Edgar Cabral on the 7-day IL
            5/2/2019 – LWD placed C Rafael Marchan on the 7-day IL
            6/13/2019 – CLW placed C Colby Fitch on the 7-day IL
            6/13/2019 – LHV placed C Matt McBride on the 7-day IL
            7/2/2019 – LHV placed C Deivy Grullon on the 7-day IL
            7/4/2019 – LWD placed C Jesse Wilkening on the 7-day IL
            7/3/2019 – LWD placed Abrahan Gutierrez on the 7-day IL
            7/12/19 – Phillies placed C J.T. Realmuto on the paternity list
            7/17/19 – CLW placed C Jack Conley on the 7-day IL
            7/26/19 – CLWr placed C Rodolfo Duran on the 7-day IL
            7/29/19 – Phillies trade C Austin Bossart to the Mets for Jason Vargas and $
            7/30/19 – Reading placed C Nerluis Martinez on the 7-day IL
            7/31/19 – GCL West released C Carlos Oropeza
            8/8/19 – LHV placed C Matt McBride on the 7-day IL
            8/19/19 – LHV placed C Matt McBride on the 7-day IL
            8/19/19 – CLW placed C Gabriel Ojeda on the 7-day IL
            8/30/19 – LHV released C Nick Hundley.
            8/28/19 – CLW placed C Willie Estrada on the 7-day IL

            Ojeda and Estrada were late NDFA signs, assigned to the Threshers roster but never played.

            1. Ok …thanks for that info Jim.
              That list of IL catchers from last season is pretty lengthy….though I wonder how much of a difference it is from previous years.
              Some teams may nurse their catching prospects along and utilize the IL to its max.

            2. The Phillies have become pretty adept at using the IL, too. However, Fitch, Duran, and Cabral suffered devastating season-ending injuries (2 legs and a TJ, I think). Gutierrez did his rehab at the Complex. Wilkening never left the Complex. And, I think I saw Marchan during his first rehab. I can’t speak toward McBride, Conley, or Grullion’s IL stints.

    3. I feel like it’s been awhile since Klentak’s love of AAAA relievers reared it’s ugly head. I don’t think Marchan gets taken but if he does it’s a huge misstep.

  3. Hinkie, I always rely on you. I read a story on Sanchez that had his FB at 97. If that is the case, he might be worth taking a gamble on.

    1. matt … I hadn’t seen anything like that (Sanchez at 97 MPH). The video I posted shows him at 87-91. I just have a hard time believing the Rays (who do a great job of scouting prospects) would let Sanchez go for Curtis Mead if Sanchez had that type of velo (although, I am speaking with very little knowledge of him).

      Another thing for those under the belief Marchan is in little danger of being selected in the rule 5 draft … it happens. There are a number of tanking teams whose only goal is to pocket prospects. The rule 5 draft is one of only a limited number of ways to do this (rule 4 draft, J2 signings, trading MLB players, and eating bad contracts are the others). Clubs have taken and stashed young (not ready for prime time) players when rosters were only allowed 25 players. It’ll be easier beginning next season when MLB rosters expand to 26.
      In 2016, the Padres picked and stashed 20 YO catcher Luis Torrens from the NYY’s. Torrens played just 40 games in the SAL before he was swiped by San Diego. The Padres kept the young catcher on their MLB roster in 2017 even though Torrens slashed a meager .163/.243/.203.
      And who can forget just two winters ago the Rangers took, and held on to (the way too under-developed) Carlos Tocci despite the fact that Tocci only managed to muster a .225/.271/.283 line in Texas in 2018.

      I’m not saying losing Marchan in the rule 5 draft is a slam dunk. I’m just saying I wouldn’t risk it for guys like Garret Cleavenger, Christopher Sanchez, and Robert Stock (not to mention Maikel Franco, who the team is not going to keep in 2020 anyway).

      1. A couple of things.

        Reports on Sanchez are he sits 92-94 T95, is skinny and long so their might be a bit more projection and velocity in there (not surprised there is a one time 97 in there). The Rays did not have 40 man room for him and he was 100% going to get taken in the Rule 5 draft. He is easily a top 30 prospect for the Phillies

        Teams have grabbed stash guys, but there has not been any of that have been successful. Also Torrens was a guy who was a top 100 level prospect who had an injury, Marchan is not of that caliber. Additionally, if you add Marchan now you start the options clock. Given his age, catcher development, and his own physical development. It is likely he burns through all 3 options before he is major league ready. Someone could take him, but no one took Tocci for 2 years in the same circumstances before Texas took him after he had reached AAA.

        1. I’m not making any guarantees that Marchan gets picked. I’m just saying prospects like him (young and highly ranked) are going to be stolen by teams (like the Orioles, Royals, Tigers, Pirates, Giants, Marlins, DBacks, Mariners, and Blue Jays) who are tanking/not trying too seriously to win games. The 26 man roster makes it a lot easier to carry these guys for an entire season.

          BTW … Luis Torrens (as far as I know) was not a top 100 prospect. had him as the NYY’s #12 prospect when he was poached by the Padres.

          I know I’ve read more than one story over the past six months indicating Marchan was a popular name brought up by other teams in trade talks with the Phillies this season.

  4. It was in the Jim Salisbury article on the acquisition. I never heard of him, so I just assumed it was a flyer on a lefty who could hit 97, and has control issues.

  5. Good explanation of the trade here

    “Tampa Bay originally signed Sanchez in 2013 out of the Dominican Republic. He’s never been able to crack the upper minors. The 6’5″ lefty is incredibly lean, listed at 165 pounds, and likely very close to that number.

    Sanchez worked primarily as a starter until this season. Once put into a bullpen/swingman role after a July promotion, Sanchez saw his stuff tick up, with his low-90s fastball working consistently in the mid-90s and his sharp slider working in the mid- to upper-80s. Both pitches play as above-average pitches on their raw velocity and movement.

    The time in the swingman role has really allowed Sanchez’s slow-slow-snap delivery to REALLY play up, as hitters get lulled to sleep a bit in his slow delivery, then surprised by his explosion to the plate. The improvement was notable enough that many figured Sanchez would go in the Rule 5 draft if left unprotected. Instead, he will likely open in Double-A in the Phillies system with a chance to impact the Philadelphia bullpen by the end of 2020 if he’s left in that role.”

    1. The kid sounds like what Girardi likes to have in the bullpen – multiple innings guys to keep SPs fresh when necessary.

      1. Sanchez is at least a full year away from the majors. He’s a high A guy who needs to start the year in Reading. Lots of arms are ahead of him

  6. FYI, Sanchez pitched against the Threshers on July 28th. In a 2-1 Threshers’ win behind Alejandro Requena, Austin Ross, and Tyler Carr,

    Sanchez threw three, one-hit (Stokes double), shutout innings in relief.

    He walked one (Miller),

    hit a batter (Brito), and

    struck out five (Maton, Matera, Muzziotti, Ortiz, and Maton again).

    He also picked a runner off first base (Brito).

  7. Another take of the trade from Fangraphs…

    “In part due to injuries, the Phillies were forced to run a bunch of soft-tossers out of the bullpen late last year. Sanchez is not that. A wispy 6-foot-5, Sanchez’s velo climbed from 88-93 to the 92-95 range, topping out at 98, and that was in multi-inning relief stints and starts lasting as long as five innings. His changeup progressed, and he’s now the hardest-throwing lefty on the Phillies 40-man and may compete for a spot in the bullpen during the spring.”

    1. It sounds like in a single inning he might be more 94-97 — since the 92-95 was in multi-inning stints — which makes Sanchez a very interesting piece.

  8. It is also not uncommon for velocity to kick in at age 22 or 23 independent of the relief switch. The Fangraphs take on our lack of velocity out of the bullpen is real. Plus Marchan is unlikely to stick with another team. Maybe 1 in 3 chance of being selected, but he really would need to stick as a team’s backup catcher because he is simply not good enough a hitter to take up a roster spot and not play much catcher (i.e. the 3 catcher scenario).

    Good moves. We had roster flexibility this year. Still a chance that we move Sanchez and Cleavinger off the 40 later this winter if we need spots (though Gamboa is probably the first guy off).

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