Reason Phillies claim Josh Fleming off w….

Phillies acquire Michael Mercado from Rays and claim Josh Fleming off waivers

CBS Philadelphia — The Philadelphia Phillies did not take long on Monday to expand their pitching staff as they separately acquired two pitchers from the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Phillies first claimed left-handed pitcher Josh Fleming off waivers and then acquired right-handed pitcher Michael Mercado in a trade shortly after.

The Phils also outrighted lefty Michael Plassmeyer and righty Erich Uelmen to Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Both Fleming and Mercado were added to the Phillies’ 40-man roster, which currently sits at 38.

Philadelphia also extended a one-year, $20.325 million qualifying offer to Aaron Nola but not to Rhys Hoskins and Michael Lorenzen. Craig Kimbrel also did not receive a qualifying offer, but since he received one before, he was ineligible to be qualified.

What does Fleming add?

The Rays placed Fleming on outright waivers over the weekend, leading to the Phillies scooping him up Monday. In 2017, Tampa selected the 27-year-old in the fifth round; at the time, Phillies assistant general manager Anirudh Kilambi was a member of the Rays organization.

Due to inflammation in his left elbow, Fleming was sidelined for slightly more than two months during the previous season. The lefty pitched 51 2/3 innings with a 5.66 FIP and 4.70 ERA in 12 appearances (three starts). He struck out 25 and walked 19.

Fleming’s primary pitches are a sinker, changeup, and curveball, with the occasional four-seam fastball thrown in, according to Baseball Savant.

Last year, he relied heavily on his sinker, throwing it 44.1% of the time, mixing in his change at 29% and curve at 22.1%. As a lefty, he produces a lot of ground balls with his arsenal—61.6% during the previous season and 60% overall.

Fleming is 19-13 with a 4.88 ERA in 55 career games with the Rays. With 22 career starts under his belt, including six scoreless innings against the Fightins in 2020, he could provide the Phillies with length as a long man out of the bullpen on occasion.

What about Mercado?

The Phillies traded Mercado to Tampa for right-hand pitcher Adam Leverett and cash considerations.

The 24-year-old Mercado was drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft by Tampa. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019, the right-hander was unable to resume professional pitching until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having torn his ulnar collateral ligament in late 2018.

After spending the 2023 season in Double A and Triple A, Mercado pitched in 52 games and 62 innings with a 4.79 ERA, striking out 35 percent of the batters he faced.

The 6-foot-4 Mercado was eligible for minor league free agency Monday had he not been added to Tampa’s 40-man roster. The Phils swooped in and acquired Mercado before he could hit the market.

Leverett, 25, pitched 64 innings in 35 appearances at Double A Reading in 2023, where he had a 3.94 ERA.

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