Legend tells us that relievers can only be traded by teams in the dark of night, the exchange made solely by the light of a winter moon.
That legend became real on Thursday evening, when the Phillies sent reliever Luis Garcia to the Angels in exchange for 29-year-old southpaw Jose Alvarez.
After developing in various arms of the Red Sox and Marlins systems, Alvarez debuted for the Tigers in 2013 and has spent part of the last five seasons in Anaheim. Last season was unarguably his best, during which he posted a 2.71 ERA, 59 SO, 22 BB, and 1.3 WAR (more than double his career high) in 63 IP. He started the year white-hot, allowing only a single earned run in 13 innings of work, with ten hits and 15 SO, good enough for a 0.69 ERA in the season’s first month—the sole run coming from a save-blowing solo shot off the bat of that pesky Brian McCann, who just returned to the NL East. Things balanced out from there as he put up average numbers for two months, and in July he saw less work, only seven innings, but putting up a strong August (1.42 ERA) and finishing the season tying his career high in strikeouts (59). He and Blake Parker became the most trusted arms in Mike Scioscia’s bullpen.
Why the Angels would be willing to give him up for Garcia, a beleaguered member of the Phillies worn down bullpen, is yet to be determined. It’s been six—six—seasons of Garcia and in three of them he’s finished with an era over 6.00 and negative WAR. He was out of options with the Phillies, as is Adam Morgan, a lefty whom this trade could impact as well.
The 31-year-old Garcia got absolutely demolished at Citizens Bank Park this past year, giving up 21 earned runs, three home runs, two hit batsmen, and three wild pitches (He had seven on the year, second highest for a Phillies reliever not named Seranthony Dominguez), leading to a 7.88 ERA at home. He’s a hard thrower, and he can get you a K, but his control needs to be re-calibrated and it’s tough not to be flummoxed by his appeal for the Angels. Relievers are always remaking themselves. Maybe the sun will be good for him. Cheers, Luis.
Luis is beloved in the clubhouse, and for good reason. He will be missed. Excited to welcome Jose into our group. https://t.co/otPXSZ2Iol— gabe kapler (@gabekapler) December 7, 2018
Perhaps this one will make more sense in daylight, but for now, we can only assume that making the team better through deals with the Angels is the Phillies’ long-term plan to acquiring Mike Trout.