The Phillies announced this afternoon that they’ve claimed righty Deolis Guerra off outright waivers from the Brewers and designated fellow right-hander J.D. Hammer for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster. Philadelphia also announced that right-hander Trevor Kelley, who was designated for assignment late last week, cleared waivers and has been sent outright to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Guerra, 30, was dominant in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in 2019, logging 66 2/3 innings with a 1.89 ERA, 11.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9 and a 42.9 percent ground-ball rate for Milwaukee’s top affiliate. He pitched just two-thirds of an inning in the big leagues and only has a total of 95 2/3 MLB frames under his belt in all, but Guerra ranked in the 80th percentile in fastball spin rate during his last full MLB season with the Angels in 2017.
Milwaukee signed Guerra to a big league deal earlier this winter but opted to designate him for assignment last week after agreeing to a one-year deal with righty David Phelps. Guerra is out of minor league options, so he becomes a strong possibility to break camp with the Phillies, so long as he pitches reasonably well in Spring Training.
Hammer, 25, posted a 3.79 ERA in his big league debut in 2019, allowing eight runs on just 15 hits in 19 innings of work. However, he also issued 12 walks against just 13 strikeouts in that time, continuing some troublesome control issues that surfaced in Triple-A (15 walks in 15 2/3 innings there). Injuries have combined to limit Hammer to just 170 total innings between the big leagues and the minors since he was selected by the Rockies in the 24th round of the 2016 draft. That, paired with his recent control issues, apparently made him expendable to the Phillies, who now have a week to trade Hammer, release him or try to pass him through outright waivers.
The 26-year-old Kelley was also a waiver claim by the Phillies, coming over from the Red Sox organization in early December. He struggled in his MLB debut this past season (eight runs in 8 1/3 innings) but posted impressive minor league numbers in 2019 (1.79 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 in 65 2/3 innings).