Fans will hate that ex-Phillies starter Zach Eflin is on rival's trade deadline radar

Could the former Phillie come back to haunt Philadelphia by ending up with their division rival?
Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago White Sox
Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago White Sox / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

The July 30 MLB trade deadline is still months away, but a recent report has linked former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Zach Eflin with a rival NL East team.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale revealed the potentially shocking move that the Atlanta Braves may have in store for the trade deadline. Nightengale claims that the Braves are “keeping a close eye “ on former Phillies starter Zach Eflin in the event they decide to add a rotation piece at the deadline.

Fans will hate that ex-Phillies starter Zach Eflin is on rival's trade deadline radar

The Braves’ interest in acquiring the former Phillie will not sit well with Phillies fans. Since Philadelphia put in all the effort to help him grow and develop his game over the years, the last thing they want to see is Eflin pitching big games for their division rivals down the stretch and perhaps into the playoffs.

A former first-round pick in 2012, Eflin became a part of the Phillies organization as part of the trade package from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for long-time fan favorite Jimmy Rollins. Eflin played in parts of seven seasons with Philadelphia, mainly as a starter, posting a 36-45 record with a 4.49 ERA and 1.30 WHIP with 552 strikeouts in 659 1/3 innings pitched. 

However, at the end of 2022, Eflin declined his part of the mutual option. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer's Scott Lauber, Eflin claimed the Phillies never talked to his agent (subscription required) following their World Series exit. That didn’t sit well with Eflin, especially when he learned that the Phillies were going after a big-market starting pitcher in free agency.

As a result, he signed a three-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, and they allowed him to pitch full-time as a starter again.

With the newfound opportunity, Eflin put together a career year in his first season with his new club, posting a 16-8 record with a 3.50 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 31 starts. This year, anchoring the Rays rotation, those numbers have dropped a bit but remain respectable with a 3-4 record, 4.12 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 10 starts.

With the Rays struggling so far in the deep and highly competitive AL East, the 30-year-old could be made available at the trade deadline if they end up falling further back in the coming months.

However, per's Adam Berry, Eflin just landed on the IL due to lower back inflammation. Since the deadline is still months away, it shouldn’t affect the Braves’ ultimate plans if they do intend to pursue the right-hander.

There is one way to throw a wrench in the Braves’ plans, and that's for the Phillies to re-acquire Eflin for themselves. That would also be a great way to make amends with Eflin after how he left the organization — by giving him another chance to win with the club he called home for many years.