Even after an extremely disappointing 2019 season, the league still remains intrigued by Philadelphia Phillies righty Nick Pivetta.
In fact, Matt Gelb of The Athletic says that “teams have called often to inquire” about the 26-year-old. ESPN‘s Jeff Passan reported before the 2019 season that Pivetta was “one of the most-asked-for players on the trade market this winter,” so this shouldn’t be especially surprising.
Pivetta went 7-14 with a 4.77 ERA in 164.0 innings in 2018. However, a 3.80 FIP and 3.42 xFIP were among the numbers that led some to believe that Pivetta was poised for a breakout in 2019.
That didn’t happen.
Across 93.2 innings in 2019, Pivetta posted a 5.38 ERA and 5.47 FIP. He went 4-4 with a 5.74 ERA in 13 starts. He had a 4.38 ERA in 17 relief appearances.
2019 wasn’t without a few flashes from Pivetta, though. He pitched a complete game against the Cincinnati Reds on June 8. He struck out five in 3.2 innings of relief in a 15-inning win in Detroit on July 23.
Those positive moments were few and far between in what turned out to be a disastrous 2019 season for Pivetta, though. Gabe Kapler, who would ultimately be dismissed as manager after the 2019 season, said in August after Pivetta was sent to Triple-A for the second time that “Nick is a developing young man and, specifically, I think he’s still really learning 100 percent accountability.”
Are there arguments for trying things one last time with Pivetta in 2020? Sure. Joe Girardi landed highly-coveted pitching coach Bryan Price, perhaps he could help tap into Pivetta’s raw talent. Whether it’s as a starter or a reliever, the Phillies could certainly stand to have cheap, controllable talent produce at a high level to supplement their expensive stars. Pivetta won’t even become arbitration-elgible until 2021, and can’t become a free agent until after the 2023 season.
However, his raw talent and distance from free agency also work as arguments for why the Phillies may be best served moving Pivetta this offseason. Let’s say the Diamondbacks had interest in Pivetta in potential discussions for Robbie Ray, as Jayson Stark of The Athletic said earlier this offseason that the Snakes would seek controllable pitching for Ray. Never mind the luxury tax implications right now, would the 2020 Phillies not be a better team with Ray than with Pivetta and whatever lower level pieces it could cost to obtain him?
The Phillies initially acquired Pivetta from the Washington Nationals in July of 2015, when they traded a disgruntled Jonathan Papelbon to a situation where he could contend. Now, for entirely different reasons, it feels like Pivetta could benefit from a change of scenery.
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