As rumors swirled ahead of Friday’s Major League Baseball trade deadline, a Philadelphia Phillies prospect and potential trade chip was sent down a minor-league level on Tuesday.
The Phillies demoted catcher Rafael Marchan to Double-A from Triple-A in a bevy of roster moves within the organization, which included his fellow catcher Rodolfo Durán moving up a level to Triple-A. Instead of traveling with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to Rochester for their series against the Red Wings, Marchan was assigned to play in Reading for the Fightin Phils’ series opener against the Somerset Patriots.
The move came just hours after reports emerged that Marchan’s name was in trade discussions. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported in the early afternoon that the Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates had talked about the catcher in a potential trade for reliever Richard Rodríguez. Alex Stumpf of DK Pittsburgh Sports later reported that the Phillies would likely not want to trade Marchan in that deal.
The Phillies and Pirates reportedly came to an agreement on a separate trade that would send starting pitcher Tyler Anderson to Philadelphia for two other prospects, per Jon Heyman of Audacy Sports — which ultimately fell through — but nothing involving Marchan materialized.
Later Tuesday evening, Marchan joined the Fightins and played in the first Double-A game of his career. He started at catcher and batted second in the lineup in Reading’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings, going 1-for-5 with a double and a run scored.
“He looked great,” Reading manager Shawn Williams said. “Got the double and did an outstanding job behind the plate. I thought he called a really good game and blocked really well — just everything. He had great leadership out there and did an outstanding job behind the plate.”
Williams said he was unsure how long Marchan’s stay in Reading will last. The 22-year-old had spent the 2021 season in Lehigh Valley, save for eight games in three separate stints in the majors. Marchan was hitting just .200/.285/.215 with two doubles and no home runs in Triple-A.
Of course, the catcher’s time as a Fightin could be extremely short-lived if the right trade for the Phillies presents itself in the coming days. Marchan is an obvious trade candidate, as catcher J.T. Realmuto is under contract in Philadelphia through 2025. Despite his offensive struggles, Marchan is young and remains an advanced defender.
Marchan has major-league experience, filling in at times in 2020 and 2021 as one of three catchers on the Phillies 40-man roster. That might be a factor that could attract another team looking to trade for him, showing he’s handled the majors in his limited experience. But for Marchan, it serves as a motivator at this point in his career.
“He’s still only 22 years old. He’s hungry,” Williams said. “He’s wanting to get back. … He’s done a very good job when he’s been up there, and I know he’s hungry to get back there. He’s looking forward to playing really well and hopefully getting back there soon.”
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