The Phillies announced that they have claimed left-handed reliever Bobby LaFromboise off waivers from the Angels and designated former top prospect Jesse Biddle for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. While Biddle’s DFA may come as a surprise to those who recognize his name, Biddle underwent Tommy John surgery back in October and is expected to miss the entirety of the 2016 season as a result.
LaFromboise, 29, had a very nice year with Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pirates organization last year, working to a 2.98 ERA with 8.6 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings. He also recorded eight innings at the big league level, during which he yielded just one run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts. LaFromboise has a generally strong track record at the Triple-A level and has also had a fairly reasonable degree of success in his brief Major League time, having pitched to a 4.03 ERA with a 23-to-5 K/BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings. This past season, he held lefties to a .218/.255/.366 batting line with a 36-to-5 K/BB ratio between the Majors and minors.
Because they finished the season with the worst record in the Majors, the Phillies have first crack at claiming any player that is placed on waivers, meaning LaFromboise was snatched up by the first team to which he was made available. He’ll compete for a spot in the bullpen along with lefties Elvis Araujo, Mario Hollands (who is recovering from his own Tommy John surgery), Daniel Stumpf and non-roster invitee James Russell in Philadelphia.
As for Biddle, the former 24-year-old will sit out the 2016 campaign and hope to get his once-promising career back on track in 2017. The Philadelphia native was drafted by the Phillies with the 27th overall pick in 2010 and quickly found himself as a universal entrant in top 100 prospect rankings, appearing on such lists from publications like Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com. By the time he was 21, Biddle had a full season of work at the Double-A level under his belt, and while he battled some control issues there, he worked to a 3.64 ERA and averaged 10 strikeouts per nine across 138 1/3 innings despite being nearly four years younger than the average age in the league. However, he struggled in repeating the league, and while he moved up to Triple-A in 2015, Biddle posted a 6.25 ERA in 44 1/3 innings there late in the year before news of his surgery was reported shortly after the conclusion of the regular season.