The Phillies invested $4.5 million last winter in Roberto Hernandez to be their fifth starter. He pitched in 23 games (20 starts) with a 3.87 ERA, and did his job. That made him attractive enough to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who placed a waiver claim, and acquired the 33-year-old righthander Thursday.
Hernandez, a free agent at season's end, was traded for two players to be named later or cash considerations. The Phillies have several weeks to choose from a pool of players from the low minors, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. The Dodgers assumed the remaining $1.5 million on Hernandez's contract.
"We got to the point where we got some names together we thought would make the deal reasonable and we went for it," Amaro said.
"When you think about what Roberto is at the end of this year and the fact we weren't going to be offering him an qualifying offer or anything like that, we felt like it was a move to help give us some talent in our system."
The Phillies selected Sean O'Sullivan's contract from triple-A Lehigh Valley to fill Hernandez's roster spot. O'Sullivan will start Thursday if he can make it to Citizens Bank Park on time. He was with the IronPigs in Toledo, Ohio. Cesar Jimenez will start if O'Sullivan is late.
Hernandez is an example of a strategy the Phillies could employ this winter. They have numerous rotation holes to fill. They bought low on Hernandez, who they deemed a bounce-back candidate, and received suitable production. Then they flipped him for some minor-league depth rather than letting him walk in October.
"That was actually something we were cognizant of," Amaro said. "We've seen other clubs do it, have some levels of success with it. Roberto served us well. He pitched well for us and did a nice job for us. But if we can convert him into what we think will be some talent in our system, then so be it."
Aaron Nola, the team's first pick in June's draft, pitched five solid innings Wednesday for double-A Reading. He is not a candidate for a September call-up to augment the rotation. The Phillies will soon cap his innings.
"I think the innings may very well hurt him __ and experience," Amaro said. "Listen, he's one of those guys who doesn't get rattled all that much. As far as his makeup is concerned, I don't think it would be an issue. I just don't know if that's the right thing to do for the player, health-wise.
"He's never really pitched in a summer. Our history on him is such that when he finishes his college season, he shuts it down. Which is great, as far as we're concerned. We have to be cognizant of that and not put him on a load that he's not prepared to handle. Is it possible? I guess it's improbable."