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

Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski talks at end-of-season conferences
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski talks at end-of-season conferences 42:45

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Philadelphia Phillies wasted little time Monday in adding pitching depth, acquiring two pitchers from the Tampa Bay Rays in separate moves. 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. The 27-year-old was a fifth-round pick by Tampa in 2017 -- Phillies assistant general manager Anirudh Kilambi was in the Rays' organization then.

Fleming spent time just over two months on the injured list last season with left elbow inflammation. In 12 appearances (three starts) the lefty had a 2-0 record with a 4.70 ERA and 5.66 FIP in 51 2/3 innings. He struck out 25 and walked 19.

According to Baseball Savant, Fleming primarily throws a sinker, changeup and curveball and mixes in a four-seam fastball occasionally. 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%. With his arsenal, he's a lefty who induces a lot of groundballs -- 61.6% last season and 60% over the course of his career.

Fleming is 19-13 with a 4.88 ERA in 55 career games with the Rays. He could give the Phils length as a long man out of the bullpen with the occasional spot start -- he has 22 career starts, including throwing six scoreless innings against the Fightins in 2020.

What about Mercado?

The Phillies acquired Mercado from Tampa for right-handed pitcher Adam Leverett and cash considerations.

The 24-year-old Mercado was drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft by Tampa. The righty tore his ulnar collateral ligament in late 2018, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, ended up not pitching professionally until 2021.

Mercado spent the 2023 season in Double A and Triple A, posting a 4.79 ERA across 52 games and 62 innings and striking out 35% of his batters 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, spent 2023 at Double A Reading, where he had a 3.94 ERA in 35 appearances and 64 innings.  

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