THE RED SOX reportedly reached a pact with A.J. Pierzynski in the morning, the Marlins with Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the afternoon and the Yankees appeared to score the greatest coup of the winter in the evening, stealing Jacoby Ellsbury from their rival Red Sox with a lucrative free-agent deal in the evening.

On one of the busiest offseason days in recent memory - with several deals widely reported but not yet official - the Phillies joined yesterday's baseball hot-stove party with a smaller trade they're hoping improves their paltry pitching depth.

The Phillies acquired righthander Brad Lincoln last night in exchange for catcher Erik Kratz and lefthanded pitcher Rob Rasmussen.

Lincoln, 28, split the 2013 season between Toronto and Triple A Buffalo.

Lincoln went 1-2 with a 3.98 ERA in 22 games (all relief appearances) with Toronto. He struck out 25 and walked 22 in 31 2/3 innings.

At Buffalo, Lincoln was 3-2 with five saves and a 2.05 ERA in 23 games (all relief). He struck out 29 and walked 8 in 26 1/3 innings.

Lincoln will join a Phillies bullpen in need of veteran help.

Relying heavily on rookies and others with little big-league experience, the Phils' relief corps had a 4.19 ERA in 2013, the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball. Only Houston's relievers had a higher WHIP than the Phillies' bullpen (1.47).

Lincoln began his big-league career with Pittsburgh.

He was drafted by the Pirates out of the University of Houston with the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft. Pittsburgh selected Lincoln ahead of three pitchers who have combined for five Cy Young awards: Clayton Kershaw (seventh overall), Tim Lincecum (10th) and Max Scherzer (11th).

Lincoln is 9-11 with a 4.66 ERA in 97 major league games between Pittsburgh and Toronto. He was in the midst of his best season in 2012 when the Pirates dealt him to the Blue Jays prior to the trade deadline in exchange for Travis Snider.

Lincoln was 3-0 with a 2.80 ERA in 47 relief appearances with the Pirates in 2012, striking out 68 while walking 18 in 64 1/3 innings.

In acquiring Lincoln, the Phillies have parted ways with a pitcher they acquired just over 3 months ago and a catcher who spent the majority of the last two seasons as the backup behind Carlos Ruiz.

Kratz, 33, and a graduate of Christopher Dock High in Lansdale, hit .228 with a .291 OBP and 18 home runs in 118 games with the Phillies in the last two seasons. Kratz underwent left knee surgery in June; he hit .175 (10-for-57) in 25 games after returning from the disabled list.

With Kratz gone, the Phillies will need a new backup behind Ruiz, who signed a 3-year, $26 million contract last month. According to Jon Heyman, of cbssports.com, the Phillies already have found that catcher: He reported the team had come to an agreement with 36-year-old veteran Wil Nieves.

Nieves, who hit .297 in 71 games with Arizona last season, is a .242 hitter in 10 big-league seasons with the Padres, Yankees, Nationals, Brewers, Rockies and Diamondbacks.

Rasmussen, 24, was recently added to the 40-man roster. The 5-9 lefthander was acquired in August in the trade that sent Michael Young to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Rasmussen was 3-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 28 games (24 starts) between Double A Chattanooga and Triple A Albuquerque in 2013.

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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