Edmundo Sosa trade puts Phillies in uncomfortable predicament

Jul 16, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Edmundo Sosa (63) safely steals second base against the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 16, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Edmundo Sosa (63) safely steals second base against the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports /
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Phillies acquire Edmundo Sosa from St. Louis Cardinals for JoJo Romero ahead of trade deadline

The Philadelphia Phillies shocked the baseball world on Saturday by announcing that they’d acquired Edmundo Sosa from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for JoJo Romero.

While Cardinals manager Oli Marmol had high praise for Sosa, noting his energy and the “excitement” he brought to their team, it’s a perplexing trade for the Phillies. Sosa is an infielder, the one category not explicitly on their trade deadline to-do list. They need outfield help, a starting pitcher, and ideally, another bullpen arm.

So, why did they give up a relief pitcher for an infielder when their infield has been crowded all year long?

How does the Edmundo Sosa trade impact the Phillies roster?

The Phillies started the season with Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Johan Camargo, Didi Gregorius, Bryson Stott, and Alec Bohm on the roster. After struggling in 2021, Bohm had to earn back his place, as did top prospect Stott, who proved himself in spring training but only played one full minor-league season after being the Phillies’ first-round pick in 2019. Many thought it would be Stott or Bohm, but both made the cut.

Unfortunately for Stott, the overcrowded infield roster made it impossible for him to get consistent playing time, and he struggled offensively as a result. Joe Girardi almost Scott Kingery-ed him by using him as a utility man.

Then the injuries started. Camargo and Gregorius both spent time on the Injured List. Segura fractured his finger and missed all of June and July. The Phillies called up Yairo Muñoz, while Hoskins, Stott, and Bohm held the infield together. Stott hit his first big-league home runs and proved to be a versatile defender; a natural shortstop, he’s actually started more games at second this year (38) and made two starts at third.

However, a key reason Stott spends so much time at second, aside from Segura’s injury, is Gregorius. The idea – or rather, the hope – was that when Dave Dombrowski told Stott to come to spring training with the goal of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster and he actually did it, it would spell the end of Gregorius’ struggles at shortstop. Instead, the Phillies opted for a ‘the more, the merrier’ approach with the roster, likely because they were unable to find a trade partner for the pricy veteran infielder. With his accrued service time, he’d also have to agree to be optioned to the minors.

But back to Sosa, who can play shortstop, second, and third base, but can be inconsistent at the plate. To make room for him on the roster ahead of Sunday’s series finale in Pittsburgh, the Phillies optioned Camargo to Triple-A, opting to keep Sosa’s former Cardinals teammate Muñoz in the infield with him. But they’ll have another decision to make regarding their infield this week; Segura is wrapping up a rehab stint and preparing to return to the lineup for the first time since May 31. He’ll need a roster spot and Sosa is one of several players who are out of minor-league options; Muñoz will likely get demoted.

Regardless, Sosa doesn’t check off the Phillies’ most pressing needs. Dombrowski said last week that they can’t wait around for Zach Eflin, so starting pitching is crucial. The outfield defense’s -6 Outs Above Average is the sixth-worst mark in the league. The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Gold Glove outfielder David Peralta on Saturday in exchange for a 19-year-old catcher; the Phillies absolutely could’ve matched that.

Surely, there’s some upside the Phillies saw in acquiring Sosa, but from the outside, it only looks like a distraction, like deciding to clean your bathroom when the oven is on fire in the kitchen. The Phillies need to prioritize.

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