The Phillies designated right-hander Kaleb Ort for assignment this morning, according to Matt Gelb of The Athletic. The move clears space on the club’s 40-man roster for second baseman Whit Merrifield, whose signing was reported last week.
Ort, 32, has posted huge numbers in the minors but struggled to replicate those results at the major league level. But since he still has one option year remaining, that makes him appealing as a depth arm who is potentially on the verge of a breakout. That has made him just enticing enough for plenty of teams to want to take a shot on him, but his hold on a roster spot has been tenuous. He finished the 2023 season with the Red Sox but that club put him on waivers in October. He has since gone to the Mariners, Marlins and Phillies via waiver claims but has now lost his roster spot yet again.
Over the past three years, he has tossed 51 2/3 innings in the big leagues, allowing 6.27 earned runs per nine. He struck out 20.9% of batters faced while issuing walks at a 10.2% clip. Those numbers aren’t especially impressive but he averaged around 96 miles per hour on his fastball and had success on the farm. In the same three-year stretch, he has 97 2/3 innings of Triple-A work with a 2.76 ERA and 31.1% strikeout rate. The 10.9% walk rate was still high but the overall body of work has clearly been better at that level.
The Phils will have a week to trade Ort or try to pass him through waivers. Given the way his offseason has gone, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he were changing teams yet again in the next week. If he were to pass through unclaimed, he would stick with the Phils as non-roster depth.