PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies' plan this offseason has been to improve their roster incrementally with veterans on one-year contracts, giving them the roster and financial flexibility to build for the future.The Phils continued those efforts Tuesday, when they acquired right-hander Clay Buchholz in a trade with the Red Sox for second-base prospect Josh Tobias. Buchholz, 32, went 8-10 with a 4.78 ERA last season.
He posted a 6.35 ERA in his first 10 starts before moving to Boston's bullpen. He eventually finished the season in the rotation, going 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA in five September starts.
Buchholz, who made the American League All-Star team in 2010 and '13, is entering the final season of his contract. He will make $13.5 million before becoming a free agent. The Phillies would not mind if Buchholz has a bounceback season, which would give them the opportunity to trade him before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.The same can be said for right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who also could be traded before the Deadline. Hellickson and Charlie Morton were the two veterans in last season's rotation.Having Hellickson and Buchholz in the Phillies' rotation in 2017 means Philly will have a serious competition for the No. 5 job. Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez are safe bets for two rotation jobs, with Aaron Nola, Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, Zach Eflin and Adam Morgan competing for the final job.Nola missed much of last season because of an injured right elbow. If he is healthy and returns to form, he is the favorite for that spot.The one-year contracts provide the Phillies the flexibility to promote and play their own prospects as well as trade those veterans to contending teams next summer. The other recently acquired veterans on one-year deals are left fielder Howie Kendrick, right-hander Joaquin Benoit and right-hander Pat Neshek.The Phils selected Tobias, 24, in the 10th round of the 2015 Draft. He hit a combined .291 with 31 doubles, nine home runs, 69 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 127 games with Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater.
To make room for Buchholz on the 40-man roster, the Phillies designated third baseman Richie Shaffer for assignment.
Todd Zolecki /MLB.com