Phillies acquire RHP Clay Buchholz from Red Sox for 2B Josh Tobias

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Phillies acquire RHP Clay Buchholz from Red Sox for 2B Josh Tobias

The Phillies made another buy-low trade on Tuesday, acquiring right-handed starting pitcher Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox in exchange for minor-league 2B Josh Tobias.

Buchholz, 32, spent 10 seasons with Boston and made the AL All-Star team in 2010 and 2013. He's had some dominant years — 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in '10; 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in an injury-shortened '13 — but he's never been the same pitcher from one season to the next.

Buchholz makes $13.5 million in 2017, the final season of his contract.

"Clay had a very productive tenure with the Red Sox, and we look forward to seeing what he can do in a Phillies uniform," GM Matt Klentak said in a statement. "He is a welcome addition to our young starting rotation."

To make room on the 40-man roster for Buchholz, the Phillies designated third baseman Richie Shaffer for assignment.

The Buchholz trade is similar to last year's acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson. Both were once highly-touted young right-handers, both started their careers fast and both experienced growing pains.

As with Hellickson, the Phillies are buying low on Buchholz. He went 8-10 with a 4.78 ERA last season, pitching some of his games in relief for the first time since 2008. The Red Sox's rotation was crowded even before Chris Sale arrived and Buchholz was the odd man out. Buchholz did finish strong though, allowing just three runs in 19 innings in his last three starts.

It's hard to imagine the Phillies paying Buchholz $13.5 million to do anything but start, so their projected rotation (barring injury) would include Hellickson, Buchholz, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez. Aaron Nola is coming off an elbow injury and will have to show he's healthy enough to crack the opening day staff. Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin are also candidates.

The Phillies are gambling that the Buchholz they'll get is closer to the 2015 version. Just two seasons ago, he had a 3.26 ERA with 107 strikeouts and 23 walks in 113 1/3 innings before his year was cut short by an elbow injury.

Injuries have been common throughout Buchholz's career. In an eight-season span from 2008-15, he made seven trips to the disabled list for a right fingernail tear, a left hamstring strain, a stress fracture in his lower back, esophagitis, right shoulder bursits, a left knee hyperextension and the aforementioned elbow injury.

Buchholz's fastball has averaged about 92 mph since 2012, two ticks below where he was in 2010, his best year. He's changed his approach through the years to incorporate more cutters and fewer fastballs.

At his peak, Buchholz generated ground balls at better than a 50 percent rate. But his ground ball rate last season was just 41.2 percent, nearly seven percent below his career average.

With the Phils, Buchholz will get a chance to reestablish his value, a la Hellickson, as he heads into free agency. If he pitches well, perhaps he sticks.

If he fails, all it'll cost the Phillies is money they had available to spend and a minor leaguer at a position of depth.

Tobias was the Phillies' 10th-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Florida. He's hit .301 with an .801 OPS in two minor-league seasons, but his batting average dropped by 50 points as he made the jump from Single A Lakewood to High A Clearwater. 

The Phillies are not hurting for middle infielders. They have Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis at the major-league level, top prospect J.P. Crawford at Triple A, and second basemen Scott Kingery and Jesmuel Valentin rising through their system.

Hurts so good: Phillies win third straight with a wacky walkoff

Hurts so good: Phillies win third straight with a wacky walkoff

BOX SCORE

Brock Stassi's toe hurt.
 
Maikel Franco's ribs and head hurt.
 
Pain never felt so good.
 
The Phillies pulled off their most dramatic win of the young season when they rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-3, at chilly Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night (see Instant Replay).
 
Franco completed a three-RBI night when he smacked a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single to right to give the Phillies the walk-off win. It was the Phillies' third straight win and fifth in the last seven games as they improved to 8-9 with a chance to sweep a series and even their record at .500 on Sunday afternoon.
 
Franco will be in the lineup.
 
But he might need a couple of Advil to get going.
 
After his game-winning hit, Franco was hilariously chased into right field by his euphoric teammates. The Phillies third baseman absorbed a beat down with Andres Blanco delivering a blow to the top of Franco's head.
 
"You see that -- boom!" Blanco said in the happy clubhouse after that game.  
 
Franco did more than see it.

He felt it.
 
"Whitey got me," he said, laughing and pointing to his head and ribs. "My body is screaming right now."
 
Across the clubhouse, Stassi was feeling Franco's pain. His foot got stepped on during the happy scrum.
 
"My toe is killing me," he said with a laugh.
 
Stassi, too, might need an Advil before Sunday's game. He has a good chance to be in the lineup at first base because Tommy Joseph seems like a candidate for a day off after a tough night. Joseph made a costly throwing error in the top of the 10th inning that helped the Braves take a 3-2 lead.
 
Stassi helped rescue the Phillies from that deficit. His 10th inning single was the first of three one-out hits that the Phils collected against Braves' closer Jim Johnson. With the bases loaded, Johnson made Odubel Herrera look bad with a swinging strikeout for the second out. That brought up Franco. New hitting coach Matt Stairs is constantly encouraging Franco to use the whole field and that's just what the cleanup man did in lacing a liner to the warning track in right.

"To right field! How 'bout that," manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
It was Franco's second single of the night. He would have been awarded a game-winning double if he had reached second base. But, alas, he was chased into right field.
 
In the clubhouse after the game, Franco was told by a club official that he could have had a double had he touched second.
 
Franco's eyes widened in disbelief.
 
"Ah, Mikey!" he said, scolding himself.
 
Then he laughed.
 
Across the clubhouse, Joseph could laugh about the miscue that saw him throw to an empty third base after a sacrifice bunt in the 10th. With everything moving fast, he mistook shortstop Freddy Galvis for a baserunner as Galvis streaked to cover third.
 
Joseph's error put a man on third and the Braves scored the go-ahead run on an infield hit.
 
The ironic part about Joseph's error was the Phillies played excellent defense -- Herrera and Aaron Altherr made great catches in the outfield and Galvis was Galvis at short -- until the 10th.
 
They pitched well, too, from starter Jerad Eickhoff's five innings of one-run ball to the stingy relief work of Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia and Pat Neshek. They teamed on three shutout innings.
 
With his top late-game tandem of Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris in need of a night off, Mackanin asked Edubray Ramos to close it out. Ramos struck out the first two batters in the ninth and was one out away from his first big-league save when Brandon Phillips unloaded on a hanging slider to tie the game at 2-2.
 
Ramos rebounded and got the final out of the inning. As he walked off the field, he covered his mouth with his glove and shouted. Best guess: He said a naughty word. But ultimately his teammates got him off the hook. Parts of it were pretty. Parts of it were ugly. But when the night was over, the Phillies had a win.
 
"It was really a wacky game," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We played well overall, then there was a flurry of activity at the end."
 
Mackanin reached for a bottle of water.
 
"I'm going to drink more of this Smart Water," he said. "It's a happy day."

Best of MLB: Gonzalez, Nationals beat Mets 3-1 for 6th straight win

Best of MLB: Gonzalez, Nationals beat Mets 3-1 for 6th straight win

NEW YORK -- Gio Gonzalez mentioned the tasty Latin food served in the visitors' clubhouse. And the airplanes that fly overhead. And the pretty features of the ballpark.

But if there's a real reason why the Washington lefty is so successful at Citi Field, he isn't saying.

"Any secrets?" he offered. "No."

Gonzalez pitched no-hit ball into the sixth inning to win again at the Mets' stadium, and the Nationals beat New York 3-1 on a drizzly Saturday for their sixth straight victory (see full recap).

Contreras' slam powers Arrieta, Cubs to 12-8 win over Reds
CINCINNATI -- After a sputtering start, the Cubs' offense is finally rolling. And it's no surprise that they're breaking out at Great American Ball Park, a place that's just their style.

Wilson Contreras hit his first career grand slam and Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward added three-run shots on Saturday, powering Chicago to a 12-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Jake Arrieta (3-0) returned to the mound where he threw his second career no-hitter last April 21 and struggled mightily at the outset, giving up two homers in the first inning. Chicago's offense pulled him through with another homer-filled game at Great American Ball Park. Arrieta helped with an RBI triple (see full recap).

Homers by Mancini, Schoop carry Orioles past Red Sox 4-2
BALTIMORE -- Just when it appeared Steven Wright had finally gained command of his fluttering knuckleball, the Baltimore Orioles found their groove.

The result: Another early exit for the 2016 All-Star in Boston's 4-2 loss Saturday night.

Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop homered in succession off Wright, Jayson Aquino won his first big league start and the Orioles used one big inning to secure their fourth straight victory (see full recap).

Simmons belts grand slam to lead Angels past Blue Jays 5-4
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Andrelton Simmons hit a tiebreaking grand slam, Tyler Skaggs pitched into the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Angels held off the slumping Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 Saturday night.

Simmons cleared the bases in the third inning off Casey Lawrence (0-2) for his second career grand slam, helping the Angels snap a three-game losing streak and win for the second time in 11 games.

Skaggs (1-1) gave up a run in the first but settled down to hold the Blue Jays to five hits over the next six innings, getting the Blue Jays to hit into three double plays along the way. He was lifted after Ryan Goins doubled to lead off the eighth (see full recap).