Right-hander Jeff Hoffman exercised the opt-out clause in his minor league contract with the Phillies on Monday, reports Matt Gelb of The Athletic. That gave the Phillies a 48-hour window to add him to the big league roster or release him. Forty-eight hours have since elapsed without an announcement from the team either way; it’s possible the two parties agreed that his contract would be selected in the coming days, but barring that Hoffman would become a free agent in short order.
The 30-year-old Hoffman spent spring training with the Twins but opted out of that deal upon being informed he had not made the roster. He signed with the Phillies shortly thereafter and has spent the first month of the season with their Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley, where he’s yielded seven runs in nine innings of relief. Hoffman has only surrendered five hits, but he’s also issued a free pass to seven of his 39 opponents (17.9%). Those red flags notwithstanding, he’s also punched out a whopping 16 of those 39 hitters (41%), and Gelb notes that his fastball has touched 99 mph with the IronPigs.
Command issues aren’t exactly a new phenomenon for Hoffman, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 draft. He’s pitched 348 1/3 innings across parts of seven big league seasons with the Rockies and Reds, walking 11.1% of his opponents against a 20.3% strikeout rate en route to a lackluster 5.68 ERA. The increased velocity and uptick in missed bats, however, figure to pique the interest of other teams, just as they did for the Phillies and Twins. In addition to his gaudy strikeout numbers in Lehigh Valley, Hoffman whiffed eight of the 19 hitters he faced in spring training with Minnesota (42.1%).
Hoffman entered the 2023 season with four years, 105 days of Major League service time, so if he does land with another club and prove capable of sticking in the Majors, he’d reach five years of service this season (assuming 67 days in the bigs) and be controllable for another year via arbitration.
You throw 99 for crying out loud. Stop nibbling and throw the ball over the plate and take your chances.
This one belongs to the Reds
He’s a nibbler all right.
Problem is when he throws it over the plate, his command is such that he serves up the long ball. Hence the inflated Ernie.
Maybe he’ll get lucky and they’ll select him and designate James McArthur.
Wasn’t Hoffman the guy they flew in to pitch simulated games to Harper while he was rehabbing from TJ surgery?