The Phillies announced that they have outrighted veteran catcher Koyie Hill off the 40-man roster and designated center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. for assignment. The team also announced that Cesar Hernandez has been optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The series of roster moves creates space for Cliff Lee, Wil Nieves and Reid Brignac to be activated from the disabled list.
The 35-year-old Hill appeared in 10 games and collected 22 plate appearances this season with Nieves on the disabled list. He hit .238/.273/.286 in that brief sample. As a player who has been outrighted in the past, he will have the ability to reject the assignment in favor of free agency, though Hill is no stranger to playing at the Triple-A level, so he may simply accept.
The 31-year-old Gwynn batted .163/.284/.204 in 119 plate appearances and played his typical brand of solid defense in center field (a few misplays in left field appear to have created some negative defensive marks for his brief, 33-inning sample there). It’s been a rough few weeks for Gwynn, who tragically lost his father — Hall of Famer and Padres legend Tony Gwynn Sr. — to cancer last month.
Lee will come off the disabled list to start tonight’s contest, meaning that he should be able to make at least two starts in the trade deadline (his third start would currently project to fall on the day of the trade deadline, though he could make one earlier than that if he pitches on short rest). The Philadelphia ace last pitched on May 18 and has been sidelined by a left elbow strain. He’s posted a 3.18 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and a career-best 49.1 percent ground-ball rate in 68 innings this season. If you subtract a disastrous Opening Day outing, he’s been even better this year, pitching to a 2.29 ERA in 63 innings (nine starts). Though Lee can block trades to 20 teams, some reports have indicated that he’d be open to waiving his no-trade rights in order to move to a contending team. His name figures to be heavily discussed in the coming 10 days, though he could also be an August trade candidate.