The Phillies made a move on Thursday, when they acquired infielder John McDonald from the Cleveland Indians, according to CSN Philly.
McDonald, a 28-year-old infielder who has seen time with Cleveland, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Arizona, has a .242 OPS in 38 at-bats this season. For his career, the veteran has 27 homers to go along with a .601 OPS over 15 seasons.
This move is peculiar because, at face value, he doesn't seem to have any real utility for the Phillies right now. He's a glove-first infielder that can't hit a lick (his career high OPS was .727 in 2010), and it's not as if they have a shortage of infielders at the moment. Between Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis, the Phillies possess five infielders of various degrees of competency at the Major League level. It's not as if they have an issue with depth, but even then, there are a number of infield options they can turn to in the minors, including Pete Orr and Cesar Hernandez.
Under normal circumstances, this move might make some sense. After all, shoring up the bench with a solid defender isn't a bad idea, especially if you have the luxury of wasting a roster spot on someone who has made the Mendoza Line his place of residence as of late. But, as we all know, these are not normal circumstances for the Phillies. They aren't a contender unless something crazy happens to the Atlanta Braves or Washington Nationals, and McDonald isn't the kind of guy who would put a contending team over the top.
To boot, the Phillies are potentially going to burn a warm body on an infielder who is knocking on the door of 40, which seems like a tremendous waste for a team that needs to be doing all it can to stockpile their farm system.
Unless, of course, this move was made because the Phillies might be preparing to unload two of their infielders, namely Michael Young and Chase Utley. If that's the case, then this move makes a bit more sense, because the Phillies would then need someone like McDonald to shore up the infield for the rest of the season along with Frandsen and Galvis.
That might seem like a bit of a reach, but there is no good reason for the Phillies to have made a move like this when there the benefit is not immediately present. Unlike mid-season trades of the past, he's not an impact starter (Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt), reliever (Scott Eyre), or hitter (Hunter Pence). For all intents and purposes, McDonald is just a guy who is nearing the end of his career who can play a little bit of defense.
The Phillies will have to remove someone from their roster on Friday to make room for McDonald. That move still remains a mystery, but I wouldn't be surprised if McDonald's arrival is a precursor to something much bigger.