While most people were focused on the impending Super Bowl on Sunday afternoon, Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld were hard at work adding to the team's pitching ranks. In the latest in a series of depth moves, the front office reportedly agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with right-hander Spencer Turnbull.
The deal was first reported by Jon Heyman of the New York Post and has yet to be confirmed by the team. The agreement also includes performance incentives for which Turnbull could earn up to an additional $2 million.
The move comes as a reunion of sorts, as the now 31-year-old was originally a second-round draft pick by Dombrowski's Detroit Tigers front office in 2014. MLB Pipeline ranked Turnbull as high as No. 7 overall (No. 4 pitching prospect) in the Tigers system in 2015 and 2016.
Turnbull's promising career derailed by injuries
After a rough start to his MLB career at the end of 2018 and through the 2019 season, Turnbull started to figure it out in the shortened 2020 season. He pitched to a 4-4 record over 11 starts for the Tigers, with a 3.97 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP, and a 3.49 FIP.
He got even better in 2021, starting the year 4-2 in nine outings with a 2.88 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP, and threw the eighth no-hitter in Tigers history. But things went downhill from there, as he landed on the IL with forearm problems that eventually led to Tommy John surgery.
Turnbull missed the entire 2022 season, and his 2023 was derailed by other minor injuries, including neck problems and a cracked toenail. He threw only 31 innings last year and ran a 7.26 ERA and 1.68 WHIP.
The Tigers cut bait on the once promising pitcher early this offseason, non-tendering him on Nov. 17.
Turnbull adds to the Phillies' newly amassed pitching depth
The Phillies' rotation depth looks much deeper than a few weeks ago. With the recent additions of former first-round pick Kolby Allard, Max Castillo, and now Turnbull, to go along with Dylan Covey and Nick Nelson, there will be a battle in spring training for the long-relief and rotation backup role in the Opening Day bullpen. And that's not to mention the other relievers vying for an Opening Day bullpen job like Connor Brogdon and Yunior Marte.
Turnbull boasts a five-pitch mix with a four-seam fastball, a slider, a sinker, a changeup, and a curveball. In 2021, opposing hitters had a .197 batting average against his 93.8 mph fastball, which he used 38.6 percent of the time. In his small sample size from last season, his fastball was down almost a full mph to 92.9, and hitters managed a .268 batting average with a .295 xBA against the pitch.
The Phillies haven't officially announced the move, so the 40-man roster currently stands at 41 players with Turnbull. With spring training right around the corner, we'll have to wait and see who gets bumped in the corresponding roster move.