Phillies, Rays swap young prospects as 40-man roster comes together

The first trade of the Phillies offseason is official

With a deadline looming to finalize their 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 Draft, the Phillies protected several prospects and acquired a young pitcher from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that the Phillies have acquired 22-year-old pitcher Cristopher Sanchez from Tampa Bay for 19-year-old Australian infielder Curtis Mead.

Sanchez, a left-handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic, had a 2.41 ERA in 23 appearances for the Rays Single and Advanced-A clubs last season. He also made one relief appearance in Triple-A, allowing three runs in an inning and a third.

Sanchez was picked up as an international free agent in July 2013 and pitched three seasons in the Dominican Summer League as a teenager.

Mead played for the Phillies rookie team as a 17-year-old back in 2018, and is a career .280 hitter in 46 minor league games.

Philadelphia also protected three prospects from the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to the 40-man roster: RHP Garrett Cleavinger, RHP Mauricio Llovera, and LHP JoJo Romero.

Romero is the most notable prospect among the group, ranked 10th on the MLB Pipeline ranking of Phillies prospects. He’s one of their best left-handed pitching prospects and could make his major league debut in 2020.

Cleavinger came to the Phillies farm system in the Jeremy Hellickson trade with Baltimore. The lefty had a 3.66 ERA with Reading last season in 34 relief appearances.

Llovera is Philadelphia’s 15th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, striking out 72 batters in 14 games for Reading. He profiles as a swing starter who likely profiles better as a reliever.

Philadelphia has one spot remaining on their 40-man rosters, but could make room by moving players such as Cesar Hernandez, Nick Pivetta, and Maikel Franco this winter in either trades or by not tendering the arbitration-eligible players contracts.

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