LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Jake Arrieta’s big day was Tommy Joseph’s bad day.
Arrieta passed his physical exam in Philadelphia on Monday and his three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies became official (see story). In need of a 40-man roster spot for Arrieta, the Phillies designated Joseph for assignment. Within the next week, Joseph will either be traded or claimed by another club on waivers. If he clears waivers, he could be sent to Triple A Lehigh Valley.
“We would like it to break that he’s still with us going forward,” manager Gabe Kapler said.
Joseph, 26, joined the Phillies organization in the summer of 2012 in the trade that sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco. At the time, Joseph was a catcher. A series of concussions nearly ended his career, but he converted to first base and forged his way to the majors in May 2016. He hit 43 home runs the last two seasons, but did not reach base enough to satisfy a front office that wants to build a lineup around players with that skill. The emergence of Rhys Hoskins last season and the signing of free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana this winter made Joseph expendable and efforts to trade him were fruitless.
During his time in the majors, Joseph emerged as one of the most likeable and respected players in the Phillies clubhouse. His courageous journey from nearly being out of baseball to the major leagues is chronicled here.
In just a short time together, Kapler grew to appreciate Joseph’s maturity and team-first attitude.
“Everyone here has an incredible amount of respect for Tommy,” Kapler said. “It’s a loss in the clubhouse.”
Kapler informed Joseph of the news before the Phillies played the Braves at Disney.
“He took it like a professional,” Kapler said. “Every conversation I’ve had with Tommy has been the same – professional, thoughtful. He’s been a joy.”
• The Phillies rallied to beat the Braves, 3-0, on the strength of Mitch Walding’s three-run homer against Arodys Vizcaino in the top of the eighth inning. The Phillies had been no-hit through seven innings. J.P. Crawford opened the eighth with a bloop double. Those were the Phils’ only two hits.
Zach Eflin was impressive with five innings of one-hit ball. He struck out two and walked none. Eflin is a candidate for a job in the back half of the rotation, but the addition of Arrieta could mean he opens at Triple A.
• Arrieta will report to Clearwater on Tuesday morning and be introduced in a news conference. Kapler said team officials would gauge Arrieta’s readiness to pitch when he arrives. Arrieta has been working out and throwing so he should not be far behind. Nonetheless, Kapler said he will stick with Aaron Nola as opening day starter.
“He has earned that right,” Kapler said.