Reports swirled late Wednesday night that the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros were close to agreeing on a trade that would ultimately land right-handed setup man Wilton Lopez in Philadelphia. It would appear, however, that by midday Thursday the two sides had failed to finalize which players would be sent to Houston in the deal and the Phillies had “put the brakes on discussions” altogether, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, likely eliminating any chance something would be finalized.
Lopez has developed into a reliable late-inning reliever over the past three seasons in Houston. He’s pitched 60+ innings each season with an ERA below 3.00, going largely unnoticed thanks to the struggles of the entire Astros franchise during that time. However, he’d of been the perfect compliment to Philadelphia’s bullpen, installing him into an 8th inning role ahead of closer Jonathan Papelbon. This past year he posted a 6-3 record and 2.17 ERA in 64 appearances, adding 7.3 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 over 66.1 innings of work. He’d even pickup 10 saves on the year, following the team’s mid-season trade that sent Brett Myers to Chicago and the unexpected implosion of Francisco Cordero after his arrival from Toronto. Lopez is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter and is projected to earn roughly $1.4 Million for the 2013 season.
By a number of accounts, Lopez had travelled to Philadelphia in order to take a routine physical prior to the deal’s completion on Wednesday. Lopez had suffered from some minor elbow discomfort early last summer, though he never needed to land on the disabled list for the injury. It is unclear if something was found during that exam which prompted the deal to fall apart or if there were other reasons involved. It would appear a trade involving Lopez may still be possible, as other teams have expressed serious interest, though the Phillies are not expected to be involved.
Rumblings surfaced throughout the day Thursday regarding the players who may have been heading to Houston in the trade, with multiple reports suggesting it was a two-for-one swap. Right-hander Tyler Cloyd is one name that may have been involved. Cloyd, 25, made his MLB Debut for the Phillies this past season, making six starts down the stretch. He’d go 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA in 33.0 innings of work after posting phenomenal numbers in the minor leagues. Between Double-A and Triple-A on the year Cloyd was a combined 15-1 with a 2.26 ERA and 1.006 WHIP across 167.0 innings (27 starts).
Speculation has linked the other part of this deal to one of Philadelphia’s young catching prospects, namely Sebastian Valle. The 22 year old batted a combined .253/.271/.428 with 17 HR and 58 RBI on the year across 411 plate appearances, splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A. Given how highly he’s thought of within the Phillies organization and the value young catchers have across baseball, it’s possible that the Phillies merely backed out of the deal because they felt that a Cloyd/Valle package was simply too much to part with for Lopez.