Rule 5 pick Noah Song DFA'd by Phillies

July 29th, 2023

PITTSBURGH -- Rule 5 Draft pick 's journey with the Phillies has likely come to an end.

The Phillies announced on Saturday that they recalled Song from his rehabilitation assignment, reinstated him from the 60-day injured list and designated him for assignment. Philadelphia has until Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline to attempt to trade Song. If he isn’t traded, the Phillies can ask for waivers on Wednesday. Those waivers would clear on Friday.

If Song clears waivers, he would be offered back to the Red Sox for $50,000. In the unlikely event he clears waivers and Boston decides not to bring him back, the Phils could keep him.

“We just felt at this point it would be very difficult for us, trying to get into the postseason, to carry him on the back end as the 13th pitcher on our roster,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “We just thought that would be difficult for us to do and to force our hands a little more, the manager in that case. We felt that spot … is going to be valuable for us down the stretch.”

Song, 26, had been one of the Phillies’ most interesting stories this season. The Phillies selected him from Boston in the Rule 5 Draft in December, knowing he had not pitched competitively since 2019 because of an indefinite commitment with the Navy. But the Phillies took a flier on him because he had a 1.06 ERA in 17 innings with Class A Short-Season Lowell in 2019. Evaluators then believed he could be a top-of-the-rotation starter.

Song had been stationed early this year with the Fleet Replacement Squadron in Jacksonville, Fla., where he trained on a P-8 Poseidon aircraft as a naval flight officer. He had his service transferred from active duty to select reserves in February, allowing him to resume his baseball career.

“As every year passed, a Major League experience probably got further and further from reality,” Song said in March. “I’m trying to manage expectations. I don’t really necessarily know what my future or ceiling might be. [I'm] just trying to figure out what the new one is.”

The Phillies placed Song on the 15-day IL in March with what they called lower back tightness. They later moved him to the 60-day IL. Song posted a 7.36 ERA in eight rehab appearances over three levels in the Phillies’ Minor League system this month. He struck out 16 and walked 11 in 11 innings. His fastball averaged 92.2 mph. It touched 96.1 mph.

He threw in the upper 90s in 2019.

Song showed flashes of his potential this month, but he was too unpolished to join a postseason contender. It was simply too unrealistic to think he could be used only in low-leverage, mop-up situations. At some point, he probably would have been needed to get big outs in big games. And every game matters for the Phillies.

Song also would have needed to be on the 26-man roster for at least 90 days to remain with the Phillies. Those 90 days would have carried into the beginning of the 2024 season, further complicating matters.

“Really, when you think about what he’s accomplished after being out of baseball for an extended period, it’s really quite amazing he’s thrown the ball as well as he has at times,” Dombrowski said. “But it’s a long buildup. I wish we had the ability to go ahead and just send him to the Minor Leagues and answer that question ourselves by letting him go out and start on a consistent basis every five days, but you don’t have luxury in our situation.”

The Phillies had cursory discussions with non-contending teams about a trade, but none came close to fruition.

Perhaps that changes before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline. If not, a non-contender could claim him on waivers. It would be easier for a rebuilding team to stash Song in the back of the bullpen for 90 days.

Asked if he would be surprised if Song both clears waivers and the Red Sox do not take him back, Dombrowski said, “I wouldn’t anticipate that scene that you just painted taking place, but you just never know what happens.”