The Phillies announced this morning that they’ve signed right-hander Drew Hutchison to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
Hutchison, 27, once looked like a potential long-term rotation cog for the Blue Jays. After missing the entire 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery, Hutchison returned in 2014 to make 32 starts in Toronto, pitching to a 4.48 ERA with more impressive 9.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 3.85 FIP and 3.59 SIERA marks. That solid performance came at just 23 years of age.
However, Hutchison endured some significant struggles in an uneven 2015 season and finished out the year with an unsightly 5.57 ERA in 150 1/3 innings. While fielding-independent metrics felt there was some misfortune at play (he did sport a lofty .343 BABIP and an uncharacteristically low 64.5 percent strand rate), Hutchison saw his strikeout, swinging-strike and home run rates all trend in the wrong direction during that ugly 2015 season.
Hutchison appeared sparingly in the Majors in 2016 and was ultimately traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh in the Francisco Liriano salary dump. While Hutchison seemed a reasonable buy-low piece for the Pirates in that swap, though, he never received much of an opportunity in the Majors despite posting quality numbers in Triple-A. Over the past two seasons at that level, Hutchison has tossed 297 1/3 innings of 3.57 ERA ball with 7.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9.
With the Phillies, he’ll compete for a rotation spot behind staff leader Aaron Nola. Others in the rotation mix for the Phils include Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin and Mark Leiter Jr. — each of whom saw some time in the Major Leagues last season. Eickhoff and Velasquez are probably penciled in for rotation spots, health permitting, though neither turned in an especially impressive showing in 2017.
Should Hutchison reestablish himself as a big league arm, the Phillies will have the added bonus of controlling him for up to three years via the arbitration process, as he’s currently sitting on three years, 165 days of Major League service time.