Phillies trade for 2 Red Sox relievers, make big bullpen upgrade

Getty Images

After watching their bullpen implode twice in Thursday's doubleheader loss to Toronto, the Phillies made two trades Friday that they hope will improve that battered unit.

The team acquired right-handed reliever David Hale from the New York Yankees for minor-league reliever Addison Russ.

Later Friday night, the Phils acquired relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from the Boston Red Sox for pitchers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.

The Phillies also received cash in the deal with Boston. That should help keep the Phillies under the luxury-tax threshold. The Phillies will also acquire a player to be named later or additional cash.

The Phillies are hoping that Hale, Workman and Hembree can help a beleaguered bullpen that entered Friday night's game in Atlanta with a majors-worst 8.07 ERA.

It's not clear how manager Joe Girardi will employ his three new relievers, but they will all see important innings.

Workman, 32, will pitch near the end of the game. Using him at closer would allow Girardi to slide Hector Neris into a setup role.

Workman had 16 saves for the Red Sox last season and struck out 13.1 batters per nine innings while going 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 73 games. He has a 4.05 ERA in seven games this season. He faced the Phillies earlier this week and pitched a scoreless inning.

Workman was initially selected out of high school in the third round of the 2007 draft by the Phillies. He opted to attend the University of Texas instead. He will be a free agent at season's end.


Hembree, a 31-year-old, power-armed right-hander, has been a workhorse the last four seasons in Boston's bullpen. He had a 3.86 ERA in 45 games last season. He allowed six runs in 9⅔ innings this season. Four of those runs came in one outing, coincidentally against the Phillies on Tuesday.

Hembree is under control for next season, his final year of salary arbitration.

The rebuilding Red Sox are buried in the American League East standings. The Phillies are hopeful that a return to contention will bring out the best in both Workman and Hembree.

Hale, who turns 33 in September, was designated for assignment by the Yankees earlier this week. The right-hander had pitched six innings and allowed seven hits, two runs and three walks. He struck out seven.

Hale, a Princeton man, has pitched for four teams over seven big-league seasons.

Pivetta's departure is notable because it comes after he opened the 2019 season as the Phillies' No. 2 starter. The hard-throwing right-hander, acquired from Washington for Jonathan Papelbon in the summer of 2015, could never put it together in Philadelphia. He gets the change of scenery he probably needed.