The Phillies lost Nick Williams on Saturday afternoon when the outfielder was claimed off waivers by the Reds, giving Williams an opportunity with a new team after his chances with the Phillies seemed to dry up over the last few seasons.
Williams started just 15 games last season and spent the majority of the summer in triple A. His playing time was cut when the Phillies signed Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper before the season, but McCutchen’s injury last June did not create any more chances for Williams.
The Reds assigned Williams to their alternate training site.
The Phillies tried to use him as a pinch-hitter, but he struggled in that role and hit .128 last season in 41 pinch-hit plate appearances. Williams hit .288 in 2017 with an .811 OPS in 343 plate appearances, but he started the 2018 season on the bench for new manager Gabe Kapler. He hit .234 with a .686 OPS over the last two seasons in 560 plate appearances and started this season at the team’s training site in Allentown.
Williams turns 27 next month, is a tremendous athlete, and has had some success in the majors. A new team -- and perhaps some regular playing time -- might help him tap into that.
“I think it can because sometimes it creates more opportunity,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think Nick’s a good player. ... But I think it can create opportunities for a lot of people. I’ve seen it happen in the past where there were good players who were blocked because there were really, really good players in front of them. ... I loved my time with Nick. He was a guy who was always prepared and ready to play.”
Williams was the last player remaining whom the Phillies received in the July 2015 trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas. Jerad Eickhoff is with the Padres, Alec Asher is with the Twins, Jake Thompson is with the Angels, Jorge Alfaro is with the Marlins, and Matt Harrison retired as he was included in the trade as a salary dump.
Alfaro helped the Phillies land J.T. Realmuto, who is the last thread of a trade that the Phillies hoped would kick-start their rebuilding. Instead, none of the four prospects acquired became key pieces. Eickhoff found the most success in Philadelphia with a 3.65 ERA over 33 starts in 2016 before nerve damage limited him to just 15 games in 2018 and 2019.
Over the span of eight months, the Phillies traded Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley, moving three of the biggest stars in franchise history. The only player remaining from those three trades is Zach Eflin, who was acquired from the Dodgers for Rollins in December 2014.