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Looking back on the Gregory Soto trade 1 year later

Exactly one year ago, the Phillies and Tigers agreed on a trade that sent 2x All-Star relief pitcher Gregory Soto and Kody Clemens to the Phillies for outfielder Matt Vierling, infielder Nick Maton, and catcher Donny Sands.

The trade received mixed reviews from fans when it was first announced. Now that it has been one year since the trade, we can now look back to see if the trade worked out for the Phillies or if the team made a giant mistake.

2023 marked Soto's 5th MLB season and first with the Phillies. He pitched in a career high 69 games for the Phillies, but only recorded 3 saves. Even though there was a giant drop off in saves for Soto from 2022 (30) to 2023 (3), he went from the primary closer in Detroit to the 7th/8th inning guy in Philadelphia. When comparing his stats from his last two seasons in Detroit (2021-22) and his first season in Philadelphia (2023), there are no drastic results from year to year.

The two big changes are strikeout to walk ratio and total walks. His strikeout to walk ratio went from 1.8 to 3.0 between Detroit and Philadelphia. That helps since he walked 34 batters in 2022 and only 22 in 2023. With the exceptions of the walks, some stats went up and some stats went down. Overall, the player the Phillies acquired played exactly how he played in Detroit. The addition of Soto did provide significant depth to a bullpen that battled with injuries all year.

Soto pitched in 5 games during the 2023 postseason. He closed out the wild card series against the Marlins. He did struggle in Game 4 against of the NLCS, but 4/5 outings were all very productive. His role was to get the team into the next inning unharmed, and in 4 out of 5 situations, he did.

Kody Clemens is the son of Roger Clemens and was a little bit of an unknown in this trade. In 2022 he appeared in 56 games for the Tigers. In 2023 in Philadelphia Clemens only appeared in 48 games. He started the season in AAA, but after injuries to Rhys Hoskins and Darick Hall, Clemens found himself on the big-league roster as the primary 1st baseman. Once Bryce Harper returned and was able to play 1B every day, Clemens was optioned down to AAA where he finished the remainder of the 2023 season.

Even though Clemens appeared in less games in Philadelphia he did see a lot of improvement. In 2022 with the Tigers, Clemens had 117 at bats, 13 runs, 17 hits, and 17 RBI's. In 2023 in Philadelphia, he had 139 at bats, 15 runs, 32 hits, and 13 RBI's. Clemens was not putting up hall of fame numbers like his father did as a pitcher, but Clemens was able to contribute to this team both offensively and defensively better than the Phillies 4th option at 1B.

I love this defensive play by Clemens. Even though he loses the ball in the wind multiple times. His ability to stick with the ball and make the play is phenomenal. I don't see Rhys Hoskins or Darick Hall making this play.

The biggest surprise from this entire deal was how smoothly Clemens transitioned into this team. Being the unknown variable of this trade, he turned out to be the best part of the trade.

When the trade was 1st announced, many fans were upset that the Phillies gave up to much to acquire Soto.

Maton was tasked with being the everyday third baseman with the Tigers. In 93 games, he had an average of .173 with 73 strikeouts while only getting 43 hits. In late June, Maton was optioned down to AAA, but returned to the club a few weeks later. In 53 games as the Tigers third baseman, Maton recorded 8 errors. To put this into perspective, he appeared in 86 games in Philadelphia and only committed 4 errors.

Matt Vierling did see significant increases in his stats from his time in Philadelphia to Detroit. He appeared in 134 games, while he also saw increases in hits, runs, RBI's, and batting average. Vierling became one of the Tigers better hitters as an everyday player. Even though he was one of the better Tigers players, Vierling would have ranked 6th in hits, 9th in homeruns, and 9th in RBI's if he were on the Phillies. He improved and played well for the Tigers but if he were on the Phillies he would be exactly what he would have been in 2022, a depth piece.

Donny Sands split his time in AA and AAA and hit .230/.318/.360 with six home runs and 40 RBIs and remains in AAA.

Looking back on this trade, it is hard to pinpoint a winner. The Phillies gave up 2 depth pieces for two players that both played fairly well. Even though fans were upset to trade away both Maton and Vierling, both would not have had much success in Philadelphia in 2023. Clemens is the part of the deal that was the biggest surprise. Even though he spent most of his time in AAA, his ability to fill the gap at 1B until Bryce Harper could return was one of the most underrated parts of the Phillies season.

Even though Phillies fans were upset to see Vierling and Maton go, they both showed they would have been just depth pieces on the Phillies. The argument that the Phillies lost a lot of depth pieces by trading away Vierling and Maton, one could argue that Clemens does provide significant depth both offensively and defensively. One could also argue that Clemens is both a better depth piece than both Vierling and Maton. It is still too early to tell who won this trade, but from the eye test right now, the edge has to be the Phillies as they received the better players in the deal.


-Adam Mack (@adammackMLB)


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