The Philadelphia Phillies acquired pitchers Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy, bolstering their staff in a deadline trade Friday in which they got the Texas Rangers' top starter and closer in exchange for rookie right-hander Spencer Howard and two other pitching prospects.
Texas also sent pitching prospect Hans Crouse, a second-round draft pick four years ago, and cash to the Phillies. Howard (0-2, 5.72 ERA), who was Philadelphia's second-round pick in 2017, is going to Texas with right-handers Kevin Gowdy and Josh Gessner.
Gibson (6-3, 2.87 ERA in 19 starts) was a first-time All-Star this season, but the 33-year-old right-hander lost his last three starts for Texas. Kennedy had 16 saves in 17 opportunities for the last-place Rangers, and the 36-year-old right-hander hasn't issued a walk in his last 11 appearances, a span of 45 batters dating to June 4.
"We feel like we made ourselves better and we're in position where we have another starting pitcher in our rotation for next year. We've also made our bullpen better," said Dave Dombrowski, Philadelphia's president of baseball operations.
Philadelphia went into Friday night's game at Pittsburgh with a 51-51 record. The Phillies were second in the NL East, 3 1/2 games behind the New York Mets.
Gibson is still owed about $3.6 million of his $10 million salary for this season, and is signed for $7 million in 2022.
"Looking at our team in the division (race) this year, he's going to help us, and he is also locked in for next year. I think he makes us better," Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. "He's a guy who can give you innings. He's obviously been good this year, he's an All-Star. He's a guy who has been on our radar for a while."
Gibson could make his Phillies debut as soon as Sunday in the series finale against the Pirates. Dombrowski said Gibson improves the rotation by adding another established starter to go with Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.
Girardi said Kennedy would obviously pitch late innings, but said the Phillies were still talking over whether he would be the closer.
There is about $762,000 remaining on Kennedy's $2.2 million salary, and the former big league starter will be a free agent at the end of this season, his 15th in the majors.
Since his debut with Minnesota in 2013, Gibson has a 75-77 career record with a 4.42 ERA in 224 games (219 starts). He has allowed 16 runs (15 earned) with 13 strikeouts and 12 walks over 17 1/3 innings in his last three starts.
His career-high eight walks last Saturday in Houston were the most by a Rangers pitcher since 2003, but he still got credit for a quality start by allowing only three runs (two earned) over six innings in the 4-1 loss. His 13 quality starts were only one less than New York Yankees ace Gerritt Cole and Toronto's Robbie Ray, who have the most among AL pitchers.
Kennedy has a 97-105 record with a 4.10 ERA in 401 career games (290 starts). He went 21-4 and led the National League in wins for Arizona in 2011, and followed that up with a 15-win season for the Diamondbacks. His last season in a rotation was 2017, when he went 5-13 in 30 starts for Kansas City before transitioning to the bullpen his last two years there. He was a Royals teammate of Chris Young, now the Rangers' first-year general manager.
The final appearance for Kennedy in Texas was a perfect ninth inning to save a 5-4 win at home over Arizona on Tuesday. That was the same night All-Star slugger Joey Gallo hit the go-ahead homer and had two outfield assists in what also was his last game for them before getting traded to the New York Yankees along with reliever Joely Rodriguez.
Texas is in a rebuilding mode and on pace for its first 100-loss season since 1973. President of baseball operations Jon Daniels said the Rangers were able to add seven intriguing young players this week; they also got four prospects from the Yankees.
"I think this really moves us forward in terms of what we've been trying to do in a rebuild and accumulating talent that we think is going to help us win championships," Daniels said.