Phillies lose to Tigers in bidding for pitcher Jose Urena

Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Phillies came close to replacing Jake Arrieta with Jose Urena in their starting rotation.

Among the several Philadelphia Phillies needs this offseason that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld will have to address include replacing veteran Jake Arrieta in the starting rotation.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Phillies nearly fulfilled the need by turning to longtime Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Urena, who was non-tendered by their division rival earlier this month. Ultimately, however, the Phillies were outbid by Dombrowski’s former organization in the Detroit Tigers, who signed the six-year veteran on Wednesday to a one-year deal worth $3.25 million.

It is not clear how many other teams in addition to the Phillies and Tigers were in the bidding for Urena. The Dombrowski-led organization not matching or exceeding Urena’s agreed upon 2021 salary — slightly north of just $3 million — is a sign as to how much it is willing (or not willing) to spend this offseason.

Spanning six seasons, 142 relief appearances, and 98 starts with the Marlins from 2015-20, Urena went 32-46 with a 4.60 ERA, 1.340 WHIP, and 406-208 strikeouts-to-walks ratio across 597 innings. The Dominican Republic native’s best season came in 2017, in which he went 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA through 34 appearances and 28 starts.

The 29-year-old made 18 appearances and 13 starts against the Phillies, going 3-6 with a 4.62 ERA. At Citizens Bank Park, Phillies hitters slashed .252/.317/.543 against him with four doubles, 11 home runs, 12 walks, and 29 strikeouts across 140 plate appearances.’s Jason Beck reports that the Tigers “see upside” in Urena, despite him going through back-to-back difficult seasons — including going 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in five 2020 starts. Urena made headlines particularly against the Phillies in 2020, when he was scratched from his start during the season-opening series in Philadelphia after reportedly testing positive for COVID-19.

Urena would have been a cheap option for the Phils to add depth to their starting rotation and complement Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, and potentially Spencer Howard. Now, they will have to look elsewhere to find their fifth starter, unless they once again turn to Vince Velasquez.

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