Two hours after Jon Heyman reported that journeyman backup catcher Wil Nieves was "headed to the Phillies," the team announced a trade with the Blue Jays.
The Phils acquired reliever Brad Lincoln from Toronto for catcher Erik Kratz and minor-league lefty Rob Rasmussen (acquired from the Dodgers in August for Michael Young).
Lincoln, 28, is a right-hander with four years of major-league experience with the Pirates and Jays. He was sent to Toronto at the 2012 trade deadline for outfielder Travis Snider.
Lincoln has a 3.76 ERA in 74 appearances (five starts) the last two seasons. Over that time he's struck out 8.5 batters per nine while walking 3.5. He struggled a bit with control this past season, walking 22 batters in 31 innings. But in the three prior seasons his BB/9 was 2.6.
Opponents hit .233 of Lincoln in 2013, and in 2012 he limited lefties to a .212 batting average. He throws a mid-90s fastball, a curveball in the low-80s and a mid-80s splitter.
Lincoln gives the Phils some versatility, Ruben Amaro Jr.'s favorite buzz-word. Of his 97 career appearances, 22 have been starts. He could fill a role as a spot starter, but also be a late-inning reliever for the Phils. It sure doesn't sound like Mike Adams will be ready for the start of the season, so the Phils will need a few setup types to fill the void. This makes more sense than giving Edward Mujica three years.
Lincoln was the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft, a spot after Evan Longoria and three before Clayton Kershaw. It's a zero-risk, potentially high-reward move for the Phillies. Shouldn't be much to complain about with this one.
The Nieves signing isn't official yet, but it makes sense in light of this trade. He'll replace Kratz as the backup to Carlos Ruiz.
Nieves, 36, hit .297/.320/.369 in 206 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks last season. It was the second time in his career he topped 200 PAs, and the first since 2009 with the Nationals.
In 10 big-league seasons Nieves has manned the plate for the Padres, Yankees, Nationals, Brewers, Rockies and Diamondbacks.
Nieves made $800,000 last season and it's likely his deal for 2014 is right in that range.
It's been a pretty ridiculous day in baseball. The Yankees landed Jacoby Ellsbury, the Astros got Dexter Fowler, Joe Nathan went to the Tigers, A.J. Pierzynski to the Red Sox, Ryan Hanigan went to the Rays, Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson and Craig Gentry are now A's, Seth Smith went to the Padres and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the Marlins.