Phillies officially win another under-the-radar trade

Edmundo Sosa has been everything the Phillies had hoped for and more.
Texas Rangers v Philadelphia Phillies
Texas Rangers v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Dave Dombrowski doesn't have a perfect track record as a baseball executive, but he knows a shrewd move when he sees it, and he has made a career out of it.

Case in point: On July 30, 2022, the Philadelphia Phillies acquired utility infielder Edmundo Sosa from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for young left-handed reliever JoJo Romero. It wasn't an easy move to make, considering what the Phils had invested in Romero since selecting him in the fourth round of the 2016 Draft and then developing him for several years.

Romero had even achieved instant cult status thanks to his can-crushing abilities. But the Phillies' front office saw an opportunity to improve their infield defense and bench depth, and they took it.

The Cardinals had valued Sosa for years, but they sacrificed what he brought to the table in order to roll the dice on a potential bullpen upgrade. And, to their credit, Romero has worked out fairly well. He was decent in 15 games for them to finish 2022, split time between MLB and Triple-A in 2023, and has now firmly established himself as a big league option in 2024 through the first two months of this campaign.

But he's simply not having the kind of impact on games that Sosa has been having for the Phillies.

Phillies officially win another under-the-radar trade

Over the final two months of 2022, Sosa chipped in a .315 batting average in sporadic playing time, earning himself a $950,000 contract in arbitration for the following season. In 2023, he popped 10 home runs in 104 games (300 plate appearances) and provided the Phillies with the kind of positional flexibility they needed in the wake of Rhys Hoskins' season-ending injury and Bryce Harper's limitations coming off of Tommy John surgery.

Sosa was quite the unsung hero, the kind of "glue guy" that kept the team together while the stars got the attention, and he got a pay hike for 2024 as a result.

This is probably exactly what the Cardinals were afraid of, as Sosa had held the same kind of value for them. To make matters even worse for St. Louis, they had deemed Sosa expendable largely because of the circumstances surrounding Paul DeJong.

After hitting 30 home runs in 2019, DeJong seemed firmly entrenched as the Cardinals' everyday shortstop for years to come. But his numbers dipped in 2020, his average cratered to .197 in 2021, and he endured an awful start to 2022 before being demoted for two months.

When late July rolled around, the Cardinals deemed DeJong sufficiently "fixed" and shipped Sosa out to clear a spot for his return. Nearly two years later, Sosa is a useful cog for the Phillies while DeJong is on his third different team since St. Louis sent him to Toronto in a salary dump trade in exchange for a minor leaguer. That's gotta hurt.

And while Romero has performed well enough for the Cardinals, the Phillies are not mourning his loss at all, thanks to developments like the resurrection of Jeff Hoffman's career and the surprise emergence of Orion Kerkering. A southpaw like Romero will always have some value, but he's now 27 and doesn't seem likely to develop into a regret for the Phillies at any point.

Meanwhile, Sosa continues to chug along for the Phillies, including his recent roll. In his last 13 games heading into Tuesday’s contest, he’s batting .350 with a pair of home runs and 11 RBI. He has shown to be a viable antidote for the lack-of-Trea-Turner-itis that the Phillies have suffered from over the past month, and he continues to provide solid fundamental baseball whenever he's in the lineup.

Sosa doesn't figure to maintain an OPS over 1.000 for the whole season, but when the dust settles on the 250 or so plate appearances he'll garner, it will be viewed as a successful campaign that plugged holes during injuries and gave some in-season rest to the team's best players.

Lastly, you can't ignore the team aspect. The Phillies are sporting the best record in baseball and are laser-focused on the World Series. St. Louis, despite a recent surge, still resides under .500 and is several games back in the subpar NL Central. Those things don't exactly flip if you exchange Sosa for Romero, but it just goes to show how the Phillies have set themselves up to benefit from what Sosa brings without having to weaken themselves elsewhere.

Add up all these factors, and you have to score this a win for Dave Dombrowski (and I suppose Sam Fuld and whoever else participates in the decision-making for the Phillies). These are the kinds of moves that ultimately accumulate and pay off in parades.