Phils deal for defensive whiz Pache from A's
ARLINGTON -- The Phillies' 2023 roster got a last-minute addition on Wednesday, when the club acquired outfielder Cristian Pache from the Athletics in exchange for right-handed reliever Billy Sullivan.
The 24-year-old Pache, who is out of Minor League options, was added to Philadelphia's 40-man roster. To make room, the club placed Rhys Hoskins (torn left ACL) on the 60-day injured list. Pache was not on the club's Opening Day roster, but he will join the club in Arlington following Thursday's season opener and he is expected to be added to the active roster ahead of Saturday afternoon's game.
Pache was considered the top prospect in the Braves' organization -- and the No. 12 overall prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline -- entering the 2021 season. While he has showcased the speed and defensive tools that made him a highly touted prospect, Pache has struggled to hit at the big league level.
Pache made a brief MLB debut in 2020, playing in just two games for the Braves -- both of which came against the Phillies. He had a slightly longer stint in '21, but he went just 8-for-67 (.119) in 24 games with Atlanta over those two seasons.
Prior to the 2022 season, Pache was traded to the A's as part of the package the Braves used to acquire Matt Olson. Pache's offensive struggles continued with Oakland, as he hit .166 (40-for-241) with a .459 OPS. He also amassed 70 strikeouts in 260 plate appearances over 91 games last season.
"He has struggled a lot offensively at the big league level, but I know he's a hard worker from all indications," said Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "He has tools -- he has bat speed, he's got power -- so we're hopeful. But we think that [hitting coach Kevin Long] can help him."
Despite those hitting woes, Pache figures to provide value off the Phillies' bench as a potential late-game defensive replacement. He could play center field and slide Brandon Marsh to one of the corner spots in favor of either Kyle Schwarber in left or Nick Castellanos in right. Castellanos and Schwarber ranked 120th and 123rd, respectively, out of 125 qualified outfielders when it came to outs above average last season.
The Phils also figure to have either Jake Cave or Dalton Guthrie as another outfield option. Those two seemed like locks to make the roster after a flurry of moves on Monday, but the addition of Pache will likely knock one of them off the 26-man roster.
Though most of Pache's playing time should come in a reserve role, he does bring the added bonus of being a right-handed hitter. While the Phillies are pleased with the progress the left-handed-hitting Marsh has made against left-handed pitchers, it is a perk to add a righty hitter who could slot into the lineup against southpaws and -- at the very least -- play elite defense.
"Even if he doesn't hit a lot, we just think he's a help for us because of the defense that he plays," Dombrowski said. "It's a situation where the defense is so good, and hopefully, we can help the offense."
Along with Pache, Cave and Guthrie, the Phillies have considered using the versatile Edmundo Sosa in the outfield. The club also has utility players Scott Kingery and Kody Clemens in the Minors after optioning the pair on Monday.