- The Phillies had until Saturday to activate Song from his minor-league rehab assignment and, as a Rule 5 draft pick, either add him to their active roster or trade him.
- Song, 26, has been attempting to reach the majors after four years without baseball while he served in the Navy.
- The Phillies recently sent Song to Triple-A Lehigh Valley despite two so-so appearances in Double A to see him face more experienced hitters.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
How Song fared with the Phillies
Song’s story captured so much attention because what he was trying to do is unprecedented in modern baseball. The Phillies were not sure what to expect as they deliberately pushed him into pitching shape. Song suffered what the team described as a “lower back strain” during spring training and did not appear in a minor-league game until June 28.
His third outing, July 4 at Low-A Clearwater, generated excitement. He struck out four batters and reached 96 mph with his fastball. The Phillies were optimistic that Song’s stuff could keep ticking upward with time.
But that did not happen. Once Song pitched at Double A and Triple A, his fastball routinely sat in the low 90s. He had trouble throwing strikes. There was enough to like, but the Phillies are a contending team and they determined the short-term risk of sticking Song in their bullpen outweighed the potential long-term upside. — Gelb
What happens next?
Regardless of how Song didn’t fit into the Phillies’ current plans, it’s noteworthy how much progress he showed just in 30 days of game action. Maybe another club, more equipped to carry Song on their active big-league roster, takes a chance on him. The Phillies paid Song more than $450,000 while he accrued service time on the injured list. That, plus the fee paid to Boston to acquire his rights, showed a real investment in Song’s development.
The Phillies, according to major-league sources, had told teams in recent days that Song was available. If there is no meaningful trade interest, the Phillies will place Song on waivers. Should another team claim him, he must be added to their active big-league roster. Song must spend 90 days on an active roster to satisfy the Rule 5 requirements; this means he must begin the 2024 season in the majors if a team claims him.
That’s a high bar for any club, even a rebuilding one, so it’s quite possible this ends with Song back in the Boston organization. If Song clears waivers, the Phillies must offer him back to the Red Sox. And, if Boston accepts, they will pay the Phillies $50,000. — Gelb
Did the gamble pay off for the Red Sox?
Maybe. Because of the trade deadline, a lot of non-contenders are about to open roster spots, and Song could fit into one of them. That said, it’s hard for any team to carry a player like Song after he’s missed so much time. It’s the reason the Red Sox left him exposed in the first place. It was just too hard to imagine him being remotely ready to pitch on a major-league roster, and now the Phillies — after investing time and money into his return to professional baseball — have basically decided it’s not even worth trying.
If Song clears waivers, his return would be a boost for the Red Sox, who always have seen his time with the Phillies as awkward and unusual. He would instantly become a high-upside prospect, and the Red Sox would have to think twice before leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 draft again this winter. — Jennings
Before he served his country, Song was considered one of the finest collegiate pitchers in the nation. He fell to the fourth round of the 2019 MLB amateur draft — where the Red Sox selected him — because teams were concerned about his potential service commitments. That year, the Department of Defense denied Song’s waiver request to delay his service requirements.
Even if they have to wait for him, Red Sox saw too much they liked in Navy’s Noah Song
Boston left Song unprotected before the Rule 5 draft in 2022 because there was never a thought that anyone would select a player whose status was a complete unknown. Then, former Boston executive Dave Dombrowski surprised everyone by taking Song for a $100,000 fee, and the Phillies subsequently placed him on the military list.
In February, Song was approved to move from active duty to the select reserves. He immediately joined the Phillies at spring training in Clearwater, Fla., and he’s spent time with the club’s Single A, Double A and Triple A affiliates this season.
Song last pitched Wednesday night for Lehigh Valley and could not complete two innings — something the Phillies wanted to see because he’d serve as a long man in the majors. He allowed a home run to the first batter he faced and walked three others. His fastball averaged 92 mph and topped at 93 mph. He was charged with five runs.
Song has a 7.36 ERA after appearing in eight minor-league games this season.
(Photo: Chris Carlson / AP Images)