The Trade Deadline & The Phillies
7/23/18 --- Originally published 1-26-04
The trade deadline is just over a week away and the Phillies missed out on the deadline prize, Manny Machado. Machado, one of the top five players in the game, was a rarity. How often does one of the top players in the game become available at the deadline?
Having made it pretty clear there would be no in season extension, any team trading for Machado would be giving up their prospects for just over two months of his services. For a team who needs one piece to become a World Series contender, it’s a good tradeoff.
But what about a team that shouldn’t be there in the first place and is on an upward climb towards the top? Is it smart giving up potentially key prospects for a shot one year early? That’s the true dilema the Phillies were faced with.
The bad news, they did not get him. The good news, assuming the Dodgers don’t re-sign Machado, he is a free agent who will require no draft pick compensation due to be traded mid-season. At this moment, I would put the Phillies firmly in the driver’s seat. Unlike the Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers, the Phillies are nowhere near hitting the luxury tax as their payroll is small. All three of the above mentioned teams would have to make other deals in order to stay under the tax, which they have all stated they wanted to do.
That’s all well and good for 2019 and beyond, but what about 2018? The Phillies are currently the first place team in a bad division. The Braves are young and upcoming, but arrived too soon (much like the Phillies.) The Nationals, as usual, are playing under their abilities. There is no doubt who the best team in the division is (The Nationals) and which team will choke year in and year out. (The Nationals.)
With their roster today, are the Phillies good enough to win the division? Yes. Are they good enough to advance far in the playoffs? No. Their flaws will be exposed over a short series with a superior team. I have no doubt about this. So what can they do?
There are multiple 3rd basemen out there that could appeal to them. Both Mike Moustakas and future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre are out there and will be free agents at the end of the season. It will likely cost them little to acquire either.
Beltre has been a premium defender his entire career but it seems his defense has finally caught up to his age. At this moment, I don’t know if he’s a big enough upgrade over Maikel Franco to give up prospects to get him. I would pass on Beltre unless the Rangers gave him up for next to nothing. The Phillies are in a position to pick up his entire contract, so a Single A lottery ticket for him? Sure.
I realize I’m still living in the past, but maybe Beltre and the return of Cole Hamels for a couple of low level guys that aren’t going to be missed and the Phillies pick up their full contracts? I think Hamels could replace Nick Pivetta and provide another veteran influence to go with Jake Arrieta. Maybe it’s wishful thinking that Hamels will find the fountain of youth for two months and lead the team back to the World Series, but he does have the pedigree. Still, I wouldn’t give up much for either.
The other 3rd base option to consider is Mike Moustakas of the Royals. A free agent in the 2017 offseason, Moustakas wasn’t very popular was forced to swallow his pride and accept a small contract to return to the Royals. Right now, I’m certain the Royals would be more than happy to move him in the right deal. Again, a lot depends on how you feel about Franco. He has a negative dWar and his oWar is less than 1.0. He’s had another slow season although the last few weeks have been a bit better for him.
Are you sold on Franco? If the answer is no, the team has to pull the trigger. If they’re looking for a miracle, maybe Josh Donaldson will find his swing. He’d be a cheap acquisition from the Blue Jays. I might go in that direction as I don’t think it would cost much to get him and if it doesn’t work out, they’ll only lose a few bucks.
The other rumor going around involves the bullpen. Right now, the bullpen is solid. The addition of Pat Neshak from the disabled list only makes it better. But can you ever have enough relief pitching? Zach Britton of the Orioles was one of the best relievers in the game from 2014-2016. These past two seasons, not so much. I’m going with, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” with Britton. Adding a question mark due to his performance two years ago isn’t a good idea in my book.
What else could they do? A bat off the bench would be a good idea. The pinch hitting is an embarrassment right now. Maybe a veteran like Donaldson could help in that situation. An out of the box solution could be Cameron Maybin of the Marlins. He’s a free agent at the end of the season, he’s not part of the Marlins’ future, and shoudn’t cost much. With Aaron Altherr finally being sent down to AAA with his sub .200 batting average, a veteran outfielder could be a good addition to the team.
One last thought is White Sox infielder Leury Garcia. Although he’s not a high OBP guy, Garcia has pop, speed and could be a bat off the bench. I can’t imagine the White Sox wanting much for him. You never know, if the Phillies decide to upgrade the bullpen, they could try to get closer Joakim Soria along with Garcia.
At the end of the day, the Phillies are in a peculiar position. They don’t want to give up too many prospects as this may not be their time, but what if it is? What if the Phillies are ready to win the World Series? The weak division to go along with a weak National League in general might just lead to a surprise result. Is the roster as it stands good enough for that? I don’t think so. The addition of Machado could have put them close. It’ll be interesting to see what GM Matt Klentak does leading up to the deadline.
Either way, the 2018 season has been a pleasant surprise in the City of Brotherly Love!