Have you ever heard the expression “If you love something, let it go, and if it comes back it was meant to be?”
Sometimes with sports, that logic fits. Nick Foles was let go by the Eagles in a trade. Years later he would hoist a Lombardi trophy for the Birds, bringing the organization their first Super Bowl.
The Phillies have had several players leave and return to the franchise. Cliff Lee was traded away by the Phillies in 2010 and signed back with the team in the 2011 off-season. Others that fit that mold include Larry Andersen, Plácido Polanco, and Milt Thompson.
A player that I believe the Phillies should target is one that they traded just over a year ago. That player is Matt Vierling, a right-handed outfield bat, that could fill a need for the 2024 Phillies roster.
In just two seasons with the Phillies, Matt Vierling put together quite a resume. A founding member of the Phillies daycare, Vierling was a solid player during his tenure with the team.
His home run off Josh Hader in Milwaukee could arguably be the difference in the Phillies qualifying for the 2022 post-season.
He had a 5 for 5 game against the Blue Jays that included a walk-off single late in that season, helping push the Phillies closer to ending their playoff drought. Also, who could forget those iconic Car Shield commercials Matt starred in?
Matt Vierling was traded to Detroit last off-season in the Gregory Soto trade, and he played a big role for the Tigers last off-season. The trade for Soto was a move the team felt could help them in their quest to return to the World Series. After trading for Brandon Marsh at the 2022 Trade Deadline, Vierling was an asset the team could afford to lose.
Vierling hit .261 with a .717 OPS, 10 home runs, and 21 doubles in 2023 for the Tigers. A solid campaign in an expanded role than the one he played in Philadelphia. Vierling has seemingly lost a starting role thanks to off-season moves and the promotion of top prospects in Detroit. He will likely be a bench player in 2024, but the question is what team he should come off the bench for.
Should the Phillies Get Matt Back?
One of the roles that the Phillies need to fill would be a right-handed hitting outfielder.
This spot is currently held by Cristian Pache, but between Pache and projected starter Johan Rojas, there is a lot left to be desired in terms of offensive production. Both of those players are behind Vierling in terms of their hitting skill set.
If the Phillies want to roll out an outfield of Brandon Marsh, Johan Rojas, and Nick Castellanos, it would be one of the better units in baseball. Their backup options of Pache, Jake Cave, and Weston Wilson does not share that same ranking.
I believe Matt Vierling is a better player than all of the players listed above. While I do not believe the Tigers are looking to move Matt, I do think that they would consider a move.
If the Phillies parted with a young prospect, one not too highly ranked, but one that flashes a couple of tools, it would benefit both clubs. Detroit is in a rebuild and the Phillies are in a World Series or bust window.
What Are The Odds?
This idea is more of a fun trade concept than anything that is currently rumored.
With just a couple of weeks to go before Spring, I highly doubt we see any trades of this caliber. Maybe at the Trade Deadline, there is a path for this return to occur, but assessing the landscape of the Phillies 6 months in advance is a lot to project.
Either way, rooting for Matt Vierling is something that all sides could agree to. If he is playing well, you never know what Dave Dombrowski might try and accomplish.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)