Luis Garcia

Phillies acquire relief pitcher José Alvarez from Angels in exchange for Luis Garcia

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Phillies acquire relief pitcher José Alvarez from Angels in exchange for Luis Garcia

The Phillies are wheelin’ and dealin’!

OK, stand down. The Phils swapped relievers with the Angels Thursday night, trading Luis Garcia to L.A. for left-hander José Alvarez. 

Alvarez was with the Angels nearly as long as Garcia was with the Phillies. Alvarez has averaged 67 appearances per season since 2015, posting a 3.36 ERA. Lefties hit .206 against him this season, and last year struck out 26 times with one walk. 

It’s a logical move for a Phillies bullpen that could use a lefty more than a righty. They non-tendered veteran lefty Luis Avilan last week, then acquired southpaw James Pazos in the Jean Segura trade. Adam Morgan is still in the picture as well. 

Garcia heads out West after six years with the Phillies. This organization always liked his stuff, but he never put it all together. His ERA was over 6.00 in 2018, 2016 and 2014. In 2017, he had a 2.65 ERA. The fastball routinely sat 96-99 mph, but bouts of wildness prevented Garcia from becoming a consistent option in the seventh or eighth innings. 

Alvarez is projected to make between $1.5 million and $2 million through the arbitration process this offseason, the same projection as Garcia. 

This acquisition does not impact the Phils’ interest in the elite free-agent lefty relievers like Zach Britton and Andrew Miller. It just gives them more options in the ‘pen.

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Phillies face 11 roster decisions by Friday night, with 1 player a near-lock to be let go

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Phillies face 11 roster decisions by Friday night, with 1 player a near-lock to be let go

The next roster checkpoint of baseball’s offseason arrives at 8 p.m. Friday. That’s the deadline for offering contracts to players who are eligible for salary arbitration. Any player not tendered a contract will become a free agent.

The Phillies have 11 players on their 40-man roster who are eligible for salary arbitration.

Of the group, one player — first baseman Justin Bour — is a virtual certainty to be non-tendered. The Phillies tipped their hand on this when they ran Bour through waivers two weeks ago. The Phillies have a crowd at first base with Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana and they don’t have room for Bour, who was acquired from Miami in an August trade. Santana could end up being traded in the coming weeks, opening the first-base position full time for Hoskins.

It’s likely that the Phillies tried to trade Bour, but rival clubs were reluctant to part with value because of the possibility that he would soon be available as a free agent. Bour has pop in his left-handed bat and won’t have trouble finding work in a platoon situation.

Left-handed reliever Luis Avilan, another late-season trade acquisition by the Phils in 2018, is also a candidate to be non-tendered. The Phils hope to add a top lefty reliever such as Zach Britton through free agency.

There has been some speculation that right-hander Luis Garcia will be non-tendered. The hunch here is that Garcia will be offered a contract. Team officials have always liked his power arm and overall stuff. The website MLBTradeRumors.com projects Garcia’s 2018 salary at an affordable $1.7 million.

Pitchers Aaron Nola (projected to make $6.6 million), Jerad Eickhoff ($1.7 million), Vince Velasquez ($2.6 million), Hector Neris ($2 million) and Adam Morgan ($1.1 million) will all be offered contracts as will outfielder Aaron Altherr ($1.6 million) and infielders Cesar Hernandez ($8.9 million) and Maikel Franco ($5.1 million).

Several of these players could still be traded as the front office constructs its 2019 roster. Franco and Hernandez are the two most likely trade candidates, depending on what the team does in the infield. It’s possible that Velasquez and Altherr could also be moved as the roster evolves. The team is in pursuit of top free-agent starting pitchers such as Patrick Corbin, hitters such as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper and relievers such as Britton.

The Phillies' 40-man roster currently stands at 38.

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Meet the other Luis Garcia, the Phillies prospect to keep an eye on

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Meet the other Luis Garcia, the Phillies prospect to keep an eye on

Back in July 2017, the Phillies signed a 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic named Luis Garcia.

They liked him so much that they gave him a $2.5 million bonus.

“Keep an eye on this guy,” a team official said at the time.

Garcia, who turned 18 on Oct. 1, has proven to be worth the attention. He won the Gulf Coast League batting title (.369) and finished third (.433) in on-base percentage this summer. He was named to the league's postseason All-Star team.

Now comes more recognition for the 5-foot-11, 170-pound switch-hitter.

In its latest issue, Baseball America names Garcia as the top prospect — No. 1 — in the Gulf Coast League. The publication describes Garcia as “a smooth, graceful defender with quick feet, great hands and a plus arm.” It goes on to say he “makes smart decisions and plays under control.” At the plate, Garcia shows “a mature hitting approach from both sides, staying within the strike zone and spraying line drives around the field with gap power.”

Though Garcia has always been a shortstop, the Phillies played him a little bit at second base this fall in the Florida Instructional League. Garcia could be ready for Single A Lakewood in April.

Obviously, Garcia has many miles to go in the development process, but there's a lot to like and it's always fun to watch a talented kid progress.

If Garcia makes it to Philadelphia — as many believe he will — he will become the second Luis Garcia to play for the Phillies. Reliever Luis Garcia, also a native of the Dominican Republic, has been with the club since 2013.

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