PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Harrison joined the Phillies in one of the biggest trades in franchise history.
But he never threw a single pitch because of a chronic back injury, and Tuesday the team announced it had released him. Harrison will make $15 million next year, which includes a $13 million salary and a $2 million buyout on a 2018 club option. The Phillies will not be responsible for the entirety of it. There are rumblings they had reached an undisclosed settlement with the insurance company that held the policy on Harrison's contract, which means the Phillies will have some salary relief.
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More importantly, Harrison's release opened up a coveted spot on the club's 40-man roster.
The Phils need as many spots as possible because Friday is the deadline to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies have eight openings on the 40-man, but a group of eligible prospects that includes Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens, Mark Appel, Andrew Knapp, Ricardo Pinto, Nick Pivetta, Elniery Garcia, Malquin Canelo, Carlos Tocci, Ben Lively, Jose Pujols, Alberto Tirado, Andrew Pullin, Jesmuel Valentin and more.
Harrison, 31, joined the Phillies in the July 2015 trade that sent Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman and cash to the Rangers for Harrison, Williams, Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson, Jorge Alfaro and Alec Asher. Harrison joined the Phillies as salary relief to help Texas assume the remainder of Hamels' contract.
Williams (No. 48) and Alfaro (No. 58) are among the top 100 prospects in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. Thompson had ranked in the top 100 before his promotion to the big leagues in August. Eickhoff could be the Phils' Opening Day starter. He went 11-14 with a 3.65 ERA in 33 starts and 197 1/3 innings. Asher went 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA in five starts late this season.
Harrison went 50-35 with a 4.21 ERA in 135 games (103 starts) in his eight-year career with the Rangers. He made the American League All-Star team in 2012.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.