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Phillies acquire lefthander Jose Alvarado from Tampa Bay in three-team trade

Dave Dombrowski made his first trade since joining the Phillies and he gave the team's beleaguered bullpen a much-needed velocity upgrade.

Jose Alvarado, whose best pitch is a biting sinker, joins the Phillies with a 3.46 ERA over the last four seasons.
Jose Alvarado, whose best pitch is a biting sinker, joins the Phillies with a 3.46 ERA over the last four seasons.Read moreDirk Shadd / MCT

The Phillies acquired lefthanded reliever Jose Alvarado on Tuesday afternoon from Tampa Bay as Dave Dombrowski executed his first trade since being appointed as the team’s president of baseball operations.

Alvarado has a power arm but was limited last season to just nine appearances after being placed on the injured list in August with left shoulder inflammation. The 25-year-old has a 3.46 ERA over the last four seasons while averaging 10.9 strikeouts and 4.8 walks per nine innings.

The trade was a three-team deal between the Phillies, Dodgers, and Rays. The Phillies sent lefthander Garrett Cleavinger to the Dodgers and the Rays received infielder Dillon Paulson from the Dodgers along with a player to be named later.

Dombrowski is working this winter to reconfigure a bullpen that finished last season with a 7.06 ERA, baseball’s worst mark in 90 years. Alvarado and righthander Ian Hamilton, claimed off waivers earlier this month from Seattle, give the Phillies two new arms to try this spring. Dombrowski will add more before camp is scheduled to begin in February.

Among all active pitchers with at least 130.0 innings pitched since 2017, Alvarado’s .302 opponents’ slugging percentage is the eighth-best mark in the majors. Alvarado’s best season was in 2018 when he appeared in 70 games, posted a 2.39 ERA and held batters he faced to a .183 average.

Alvarado relies heavily on a biting sinker, which averaged 97.24 mph last season. The Phillies bullpen had just three relievers last season — JoJo Romero, Connor Brogdon, and Ramon Rosso — who threw harder than 97 mph. Alvarado could provide some much-needed velocity.

Cleavinger, 26, made his major-league debut last September by pitching in one game. The Phillies acquired him in July 2017 from Baltimore for Jeremy Hellickson. Cleavinger had a 3.66 ERA in 2019 with 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings over 34 appearances with double-A Reading.