9:15am: Smyly could make a start for the Phillies as soon as this weekend, tweets Matt Gelb of The Athletic. That’d certainly suggest that his agreement with Philadelphia is of the Major League variety.
6:56am: The Phillies have agreed to a contract with left-hander Drew Smyly, reports Jon Heyman of the MLB Network (via Twitter). Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported last night that Smyly, who opted out of a minor league deal with the Brewers yesterday, was drawing interest from the Phils.
Smyly opened the season with the Rangers, who acquired him at the beginning of the 2018-19 offseason when the Cubs needed to shed his salary in order to exercise their option on Cole Hamels. Smyly had signed a two-year, $10MM contract with Chicago, knowing that his first season would be spent rehabbing from 2017 Tommy John surgery.
At the time, the deal looked like a potential high-reward pickup for Texas. Smyly had solid career numbers prior to his surgery — 3.74 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 — and had shown a penchant for missing bats while limiting walks. A return to that form would’ve given the Rangers at least a solid trade chip and at best could’ve fueled a surprise postseason push.
Instead, the Rangers received a worst-case scenario. In his first MLB work since that Tommy John operation, Smyly was hammered for an 8.42 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 6.0 BB/9 and an eye-popping 3.33 HR/9 mark. Home runs have always been a bit of an issue for Smyly, an extreme fly-ball pitcher, but the league-wide home run boom has proven particularly problematic for the southpaw. Texas ultimately released him last month, and Milwaukee picked him up on a minor league deal on July 1.
His time with the Brewers was brief but a bit more encouraging. Smyly made three starts with Milwaukee’s top affiliate in San Antonio, where he allowed seven runs on 10 hits (two homers) and three walks with 18 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings of work.
Philadelphia currently has an all-right-handed rotation, and they’ve received particularly shaky work from fourth and fifth starters Nick Pivetta (5.74 ERA in 69 innings) and Vince Velasquez (4.97 ERA in 50 2/3 innings). The Phillies have also gotten 10 starts out of Jerad Eickhoff (5.40 ERA) and three from Cole Irvin (5.60 ERA) with little success to show for it. While Smyly himself is somewhat of a shot in the dark at this point, there’s little harm in taking a look to see if he can help the big league club. The Rangers are on the hook for Smyly’s salary, so the Phillies need only pay him the prorated league minimum for any time spent on the active roster.