Phillies trade for reliever as they face uncertainty in season-opening bullpen


CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies on Wednesday traded for a relief pitcher who could end up in their season-opening bullpen.

Right-hander James Norwood, 28, was acquired from San Diego for Kervin Pichardo, a 20-year-old infielder who played in the low minors with the Phillies last year.

Norwood was out of options and had been designated for assignment by the Padres. He goes on the Phillies’ 40-man roster and will either stick with the big club for next week’s opener or be designated for assignment.

Nine days before the season opener, the makeup of the Phillies’ bullpen is uncertain.

Corey Knebel, Brad Hand, Jeurys Familia, Seranthony Dominguez and Bailey Falter are locks and Cristopher Sanchez and Nick Nelson seem set. That leaves three spots as Major League Baseball will likely allow teams to carry 10 relievers out of the gate.

One of the remaining three spots could be filled by Norwood. Jose Alvarado and Connor Brogdon could fill the final two spots if they are ready. Alvarado had a recent bout of neck/shoulder tightness. He was able to throw in the bullpen on Wednesday. Brogdon has been slow to build velocity and that's something the team is watching.

Sam Coonrod (shoulder) will open on the injured list. If Alvarado has to join him or Brogdon needs extra time to build velocity, the Phils could fill the remaining spots with Damon Jones, Ryan Sherriff, Francisco Morales or a nonroster reliever such as Braeden Ogle.

Morales, a 22-year-old right-hander, is a homegrown prospect who has worked as a starter throughout his time in the minor leagues. He recently began working as a reliever in minor-league camp. He has a strikeout stuff and a plus slider. The role change could facilitate a rise to the majors and maybe soon depending on the Phillies’ needs. Morales is on the 40-man roster.

Norwood has put up good strikeout totals in the minor leagues. He has pitched parts of the last four seasons in the majors with the Cubs and Padres. In 27 big-league innings, he has a 3.67 ERA. He has walked 5.7 batters per nine innings and struck out 8 per nine.

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