2:46pm: MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the two sides have also discussed right-hander Heath Hembree. Unlike Workman, the 31-year-old Hembree is controlled through 2021, so he’d give the Phils an option for this year and next. Hembree has yielded six runs through 9 2/3 innings in 2020, but he carries a solid 3.65 ERA with 10.1 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 through 222 innings dating back to 2016.
2:06pm: The Phillies and Red Sox are actively discussing a deal involving “multiple players,” including Workman, tweets Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The Phils just picked up David Hale in a small deal with the Yankees, and it’d hardly be a surprise to see them aggressively target additional bullpen arms. Philadelphia’s offense, fueled by monster seasons from Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, has been among the best in the game.
The rotation, led by huge efforts from Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, has pitched to a combined 4.10 ERA, although the unit beyond that top duo has been rather shaky. Jake Arrieta’s past two starts were rough, and top prospect Spencer Howard has yet to complete five frames. Righty Zach Eflin has missed bats at a surprising rate but has also yielded eight earned runs in his 14 innings.
Phillies relievers, on the other hand, have been the worst collective unit in baseball. The Philadelphia bullpen has produced an astonishing 8.07 ERA — nearly two runs worse than the 29th-ranked Reds — and also ranks 27th in FIP and 20th in xFIP. No Phillies reliever has even thrown 10 innings, and the only sub-4.00 ERAs among pitchers with at least three appearances belong to veteran Blake Parker, who was only recently added to the big league roster, and lefty Jose Alvarez, who was carted off the field in yesterday’s game.
As an impending free agent on the 8-18 Red Sox, Workman is among the likeliest players in MLB to change hands before the Aug. 31 trade deadline. He’s pitched to a 4.05 ERA in his tiny sample of 6 2/3 frames this year, but the 32-year-old also logged a 1.88 ERA with 13.1 K/9 and 16 saves for the Red Sox in 2019. He averaged 5.7 walks per nine frames last year, which is obviously unpalatable, but his control prior to that season was generally sharp.
In all, since moving to the Red Sox’ bullpen on a full-time basis in 2017, Workman has compiled 159 1/3 frames with a 2.65 ERA, 10.5 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 0.79 HR/9 and a 46.4 percent ground-ball rate.
If a deal involving Workman does ultimately come together, it’ll be telling to see what type of return the righty brings. Boston won’t be making a qualifying offer regardless, so the Sox are better off moving him than holding. But the Phillies (or any other team) would only be acquiring about a month of regular-season innings from Workman. The general expectation has been that rental players like Workman will yield relatively minimal returns due to that fact. To this point, however, we’ve not yet seen any such deals come together, so the first couple deals that come to fruition could conceivably serve as a barometer for other potential rental swaps.