The White Sox shipped the most frequently used arm in their bullpen out of town Wednesday.
The team traded Luis Avilan to the Philadelphia Phillies, acquiring minor league pitcher Felix Paulino in exchange for the veteran reliever.
Avilan was acquired in the same multi-player offseason trade that brought Joakim Soria to the South Side. Soria was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers before the non-waiver trade deadline, bringing the White Sox minor league pitcher Kodi Medeiros in return. The front office was able to, though on a smaller scale, use a similar strategy as last season, when it traded away much of its veteran bullpen in exchange for rebuilding-bolstering pieces.
Avilan heads to Philadelphia, where the Phillies are in a playoff chase. Heading into action Wednesday, they were two games out of first place in the National League East and just a half game out of the second wild card spot in the NL.
“It’s fun to play on a contender. An experience to get an opportunity to go to the playoffs is always exciting, and it’s an exciting moment,” Avilan said Wednesday. “That’s always fun to go to the playoffs again and have the opportunity to at least have a chance to play in the World Series, it’s always fun. That’s what you play for, you know? Now I’m going to have the opportunity. It’s really great.”
Avilan was the pitcher most often called on through the first four and a half months of the season, used a team-high 58 times. He wrapped his stint with the White Sox with a 3.86 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 39.2 innings of work.
“He meant a lot throughout the year, coming in. He’s been in that situation before, a veteran guy who’s able to come in and get lefties and righties, and we leaned on him quite a bit and he did an amazing job for us,” said White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing, filling in for manager Rick Renteria on Wednesday. “We’re thankful that he was able to bridge a lot of gaps to get to other individuals. We wish him nothing but much success.”
“It was great. Phenomenal,” Avilan said about his time with the White Sox. “I just finished talking to Joe about how great they are, the coaching staff, my teammates that we have here. The chemistry is really fun here. I loved playing here.”
Paulino doesn’t pop up on MLB Pipeline's list of the Phillies’ top prospects, though last year’s August trade that sent Miguel Gonzalez to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Ti’Quan Forbes showed that one of these less-heralded deals can still net an interesting return package.
Paulino has a 3.91 ERA this season between Class A and Double-A. He’s been pitching at the Double-A level for a month and has a 5.46 ERA in six starts there. Though used almost exclusively as a reliever at Class A earlier this season, he’s been a starter since getting called up to Double-A.