The Brewers have acquired right-hander Jake Thompson from the Phillies in exchange for cash, the Phillies announced Tuesday. Right-hander Alec Asher has been designated for assignment to open roster space, and the Brewers have optioned Thompson to Triple-A, per an announcement of their own.
Thompson, 24, was once considered to be among the game’s best pitching prospects, entering both the 2015 and 2016 season as a consensus Top 100 prospect. Originally a draft pick of the Tigers, he was traded to the Rangers alongside Corey Knebel in exchange for Joakim Soria and then traded from Texas to Philadelphia in the Cole Hamels blockbuster. In somewhat amusing and ironic fashion, the Brewers now hold all three pieces of that 2014 Tigers/Rangers swap in Knebel, Soria and Thompson.
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Of course, Thompson hasn’t exactly delivered on his considerable prospect status. He’s tallied 116 1/3 innings at the Major League level across the past three seasons, all with the Phillies, and pitched to a lackluster 4.87 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 4.7 BB/9, 1.55 HR/9 and a 46.1 percent ground-ball rate. The Phillies had been using Thompson primarily in a relief role with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, so he could conceivably give Milwaukee some depth either in the rotation or in the bullpen. Thompson has one option year remaining after 2018, so the Brewers will have some flexibility with him in 2019 as well, if he sticks on the 40-man roster for that long.
As if the sequence connecting Knebel, Soria and Thompson wasn’t strange enough, the Brewers are opening room on the roster by designating one of the players alongside whom Thompson was traded from Texas to Philadelphia in that Hamels blockbuster. Both Thompson and Asher went from Texas to Philadelphia in that deal, and Thompson’s addition to the Brewers’ roster will come at the expense of his former teammate.
Asher, 26, has tossed three scoreless innings for the Brewers this season but owns an ugly 5.42 ERA with a 39-to-32 K/BB ratio through 88 innings of Triple-A work between the affiliates for Milwaukee and the Dodgers. That 5.42 mark is a dead match for his career ERA through 119 2/3 Major League innings, the majority of which have come as a member of the Phillies. Milwaukee has a week to trade Asher or try to run him through outright waivers in hopes of retaining him as a non-roster player.