Four days ahead of the 2020 trade deadline, the Tampa Bay Rays acquired outfielder Brett Phillips on Thursday from the Kansas City Royals. Infield farmhand Lucius Fox will head to Kansas City in return. Both players are on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move is not necessary. The acquisition signals that the Rays could be seeking to bolster the outfield ranks in case of an injury.
From a defensive point of view, Phillips is a plus defender who has spent time at all three outfield positions. The Seminole High product — big ups to Pinellas County Schools — also boasts elite arm strength and speed, ranking in the 95th percentile.
However, the Rays have some work to do if they are going to wheedle anything out of Phillips from an offensive standpoint. Across 358 big league plate appearances, Phillips is a .205 BA/.282 OBP/.344 SLG/.626 OPS hitter with nine home runs in 136 games. His bloated career 35.2% strikeout rate also isn’t brag-worthy. He has faired better at the plate this season though, albeit over an incredibly small 34 PA sample size (across 18 games and eight starts), slashing .226 BA/.294 OBP/.387 SLG/.681 OPS with one home run, three stolen bases, and a somewhat more respectable 23.5% strikeout rate.
The outfielder is controllable through 2024, but he’s out of minor-league options, so Tampa Bay will have to keep him on the big league roster.