The Phillies have acquired right-hander Nick Nelson and catcher Donny Sands from the Yankees in exchange for minor league first baseman T.J. Rumfield and minor league lefty Joel Valdez, per announcements from both clubs.
Nelson, 26 next month, has seen action in parts of two big league seasons with the Yankees, pitching to a combined 6.43 ERA in a small sample of 35 innings. The former fourth-rounder has whiffed 23.8% of his career opponents against a problematic 16.1% walk rate in that time. It hasn’t been an illustrious start to his career, but Nelson has averaged 96.6 mph on his heater with a solid 12.5% swinging-strike rate — and he carries a solid track record in the upper minors as well.
Outside of a brief run in Rookie ball back in 2016, Nelson has posted at least a 26.2% strikeout rate at every level, topping out with a 4.07 ERA in 73 Triple-A frames to this point in his still relatively young career. The righty has also kept the ball on the ground at a 48% clip in the Majors while averaging just 1.03 HR/9. With a pair of minor league options remaining and extensive work both as a starter and a multi-inning reliever, Nelson can be a useful depth piece for the Phils for the next couple seasons at least — even if he doesn’t cement himself as a regular on the big league roster.
The 25-year-old Sands spent the 2021 season in Double-A and Triple-A with the Yankees, logging a combined .261/.326/.466 with 18 homers and 16 doubles. Sands also has corner infield experience — albeit mostly coming in the low minors — and he has the potential to step up as an immediate backup option to J.T. Realmuto now that Andrew Knapp is no longer with the Phils.
Rumfield, 21, was the Phillies’ 12th-round pick just this past summer, meaning he only just became eligible to be traded following the season. He was assigned to the Phils’ Class-A affiliate out of the draft, where he hit .250/.426/.263 with a double, 21 walks and 11 strikeouts in his first 107 pro plate appearances. Given his status as a recent 12th-round pick, he’s obviously not regarded among the Phillies’ best farmhands, but he’ll give the Yankees a lefty bat with some obvious plate discipline to plug into the low levels of their minor league system.
Valdez, meanwhile, has yet to advance beyond the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. He’s posted a 2.62 ERA with a 70-to-32 K/BB ratio in 75 2/3 professional frames, albeit against considerably younger competition. Valdez pitched this last season at 21 — more than two full years older than the average competition in the DSL.
At the end of the day, the move for the Yankees boils down to parting with some depth options to open a pair of 40-man roster spots and backfilling at the low levels of the system. Both Nelson and Sands give the Phillies some present-day depth options at positions where their own organization was thinner than the Yankees.