Phillies begin building up pitching depth, acquire two pitchers from Rays

The Phillies' offseason buildup begins with a pair of pitchers from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Apr 14, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Josh Fleming (19) throws a
Apr 14, 2022; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Josh Fleming (19) throws a / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason transactions have begun for the Philadelphia Phillies. Monday marked the opening of MLB's free agency, and while there haven't been any big splashes yet, the Phillies made a few interesting moves to begin the build-up of pitching depth.

The biggest news of the day in Philly was obviously Aaron Nola's qualifying offer, which he'll turn down to test the free agent waters.

But general manager Sam Fuld and company made a couple of other moves to bring in a pair of new arms from the pitching factory that is the Tampa Bay Rays.

Their first move was to claim Josh Fleming off waivers. The left-hander showed the ability to pitch in the big leagues in a small sample in his 2020 debut season but has struggled to gain a foothold over the last few years. Now 27, Fleming is out of options and is arbitration-eligible for the next three seasons.

The other under-the-radar move from the Phillies front office was a swap of minor league arms. Per, Todd Zolecki of, they acquired right-handed pitcher Michael Mercado for righty Adam Leverett and cash considerations.

Mercado, 24, was the Rays second-round pick (40th overall) in the 2017 MLB Draft and spent 2023 pitching in Double- and Triple-A. He threw 62 innings between the two levels with a 4.79 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. The most eye-popping number in his stat line is the 95 strikeouts he picked up for a 13.8 K/9. He is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter, but for now, the Phillies have added him to the 40-man roster.

Leverett, a 15th-round pick in 2019, spent all of 2023 in Double-A Reading, where he posted a 3.94 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.

These initial moves are just the beginning of the Phillies offseason roster shuffling that takes place every winter, with many more small transactions and big signings to be made.

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