Overall Thoughts on the Phillies at the Deadline
With potentially six players on the move, the Phillies ended up dealing only two today prior to the 4 PM deadline: Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants. In return for Victorino, the Dodgers sent to Philadelphia reliever Josh Lindblom, pitching prospect Ethan Martin, and a player to be named later or cash. The Giants sent outfielder Nate Schierholtz, catching prospect Tommy Joseph, and another pitching prospect Seth Rosin. Also as a response to losing Pence, the Phillies have recalled former top prospect Domonic Brown from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
There are two things to keep in mind when analyzing the Pence trade: one fewer year under team control with the Giants than the Phillies did when they acquired him from the Astros. Not only that, but the Giants will have Pence’s most expensive and final year of arbitration, when he is projected to earn around $14 million. Second, clearing Pence’s projected salary from the ledger is the biggest net benefit for the Phillies, not the players the Giants sent over. The Phillies have close to $130 million committed to just seven players going into 2013. That the Phillies got a decent, projectable prospect in return is icing on the cake.
Joseph is a good get for the Phillies with the downfall of catching prospect Sebastian Valle. Scouts have soured on him as he hasn’t made any strides in his first year at Double-A Reading. In 325 plate appearances, Valle has a .281 on-base percentage backed by an 83-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which is just abysmal. While Joseph isn’t worlds ahead, his on-base issues are tied more to his low batting average and made up for with his prodigious power — he hit 22 home runs last year as a 19-year-old with Single-A San Jose.
The Victorino deal was to be expected, especially since the Phillies had been hot on Lindblom’s trail for a few days. He has, like so many Phillies relievers this year, had trouble limiting home runs, but otherwise, he has an above-average ability to miss bats and he has time on his side as he is only 25 years old. He’ll be under team control for a while, giving the Phillies a lot of cost certainty at the back end of their bullpen.
As for Martin, he still has an opportunity to blossom, but as a 23-year-old in Double-A, he is running out of time to harness his control issues. In 118 innings with Chattanooga this year, he has averaged just under five walks per nine innings. Although he has been used exclusively as a starter this year, it seems like he would profile best as a reliever should he ever make it to the Majors.
Now onto the moves the Phillies didn’t make… Joe Blanton, Juan Pierre, and Ty Wigginton stayed put despite reported interest in all three players. Blanton seemed like the best bet to be moved, but the Phillies were hung up on paying a certain percentage of his remaining salary. The Baltimore Orioles were very interested in acquiring him and the two teams nearly made a deal, but it never went through. As a result, Blanton will be put on waivers in August, or will otherwise leave the Phillies via free agency after the season. The Phillies don’t have a lot of leverage in negotiations involving Blanton anymore, but if they get nothing for him before he becomes a free agent, it will be considered a failure.
Interest on Pierre and Wigginton was more faint, but the Phillies should have jumped at any opportunity to ship them out of town. Pierre has had a great season, but he doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plans and will become a free agent after the season. Perhaps GM Ruben Amaro sees Pierre accepting a one-year Major League deal to stick around for 2013, but otherwise, the Phillies passed on several opportunities to move him. Likewise, the Phillies ignored interest in Wigginton, particularly from the Yankees, who were looking for a third baseman to replace Alex Rodriguez. The only reason not to move Wigginton is if Amaro is considering picking up his $4 million option for 2013, but we should all hope that isn’t the case.
Overall, this trading season for the Phillies went about as well as they could have reasonably hoped. It would have been great to move Blanton, Pierre, and Wigginton, but there will still be time for that in August. Otherwise, the Phillies were able to clear some money off the books and lightly restock their mediocre Minor League system. The 2013 squad will need a new center fielder and a new third baseman and neither issue was addressed with their deadline deals, so it seems as if Amaro will address those via waivers in August, or via free agency and trades in the off-season. We saw the Phillies play the role of sellers for the first time since 2006 and it was certainly a weird experience, but they came out of it all right.