The Detroit Tigers parted ways with their closest.
Left-hander Gregory Soto, who served as the Tigers’ guard for the past two seasons, and utility player Kody Clemens were traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.
In return, the Tigers received three positional players: Nick Maton, Matt Vierling and Donny Sands. All three players have MLB experience.
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Soto, who turns 28 in February, went 2-11 with a 3.28 ERA, 34 walks and 60 strikeouts in 60⅓ innings in 64 appearances last season, scoring 30 saves in 33 situations.
Over the last two seasons, he had a 3.34 ERA and recorded 48 saves on 52 occasions, for an elite save rate of 92.3%. He is a two-time All-Star – but has two fatal flaws: 5.4 walks in nine innings and 14 losses in the 2021-22 season.
His slider in particular slackened last season, going from a 43% swing-and-miss rate in 2021 to a 36.2% gust rate in 2022. He also throws a sinker at 98.1 mph and a 98.7 four-stitch fastball , often reaching triple digits on the radar. Opponents hit .195 with 28 strikeouts against his four-pointer last season.
Soto becomes a free agent after the 2025 season.
The Tigers bought Soto from the Dominican Republic on the international market in December 2012. He has a 4.13 ERA with a 13.1% walk rate and 23% strike rate in 186 games (seven starts) in parts of four MLB seasons.
Clemens, a 2018 third-round draft pick and son of Roger Clemens, made his MLB debut last season and played 56 games. He batted .145 with five home runs, eight walks, and 33 strikeouts. The 26-year-old fared better in Triple-A Toledo, hitting .274 with 13 homers, 20 walks and 71 strikeouts in 60 games.
Return of the Tigers
Maton, who turns 26 in February, has played 86 games for the Phillies over the past two seasons, hitting .254 with seven home runs, 20 walks (9.3% walk rate) and 68 strikeouts (31.5% strikeout rate). A left-handed batter may serve second base, left field, right field, third base, and shortstop.
The 26-year-old Vierling has played 151 games over the last two seasons, hitting .260 with eight homers, 27 walks (6.2% walk rate) and 90 strikes (20.7% strike rate). He bats with his right hand and is versatile defensively, with a significant amount of reps at center field, right field, left field, third and second base plus two innings at first base.
Sands, 26, is the least experienced MLB player in the group, having played just three games in the 2022 season. He batted .309 with five home runs, 38 walks (15.7% walk rate) and 44 strikes (18.2% strike rate) in 57 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. Sands, a right-handed hitter, plays primarily as a catcher. According to the MLB Pipeline, he is the Phillies No. 21 prospect.