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.

Related links:

  • I talked about the Phillies at the deadline on the Getting Blanked podcast [Link]
  • I answered a few questions for Sound of Philly [Link]

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  1. Nik

    July 31, 2012 05:57 PM

    I’m not worried about CF next season. I’d be ok even if we got a guy like Pagan on a 2 year deal. 3rd base is a problem. I’d keep prodding SD for Headley until they just get tired and give him up 🙂

  2. Steve

    July 31, 2012 06:05 PM

    AND they didn’t do anything really stupid like trade/sell incredibly low on Cliff Lee.

  3. Mcneildon

    July 31, 2012 07:56 PM

    Bill, how much will Ruiz’s option count towards the luxury tax? Will it be $5 million or will it be the average value of the option and the previous three years of the contract?

  4. Ken

    July 31, 2012 08:27 PM

    The 2013 squad will need more than just help at CF and 3B. Barring Brown, who is a crapshoot at best, every OF position will need to be addressed as there are no long term solutions on the roster – only badly flawed platoon combinations. I don’t think anyone sees a mix of Mayberry, Nix, or Schierholtz as being truly effective long-term options for a contender.

  5. Frank Reynolds

    July 31, 2012 09:25 PM

    Thanks for more info Bill. I am dissappointed Blanton and Wigginton were not moved. It would have been nice to move Juan too but I really like the guy and I was not sure what his value was. I think it was foolish for teams not to want the guy. He could help a team like the reds or pirates. Good to see that Dom is going to get a chance too.

  6. Cutter McCool

    July 31, 2012 10:22 PM

    Moving Victorino and Blanton should have been enough to get them under the cap for this year. What’s the odds they moved Pence to clear salary space to make a serious run at Josh Hamilton in the offseason?

    The Past-Primers–Utley, Howard & Rollins–are not going to get it done offensively next season, even if the three aces return to form. Management has to know they need a powerhouse outfielder or else their ticket sales will suffer a severe decline.

    Whatever youth they might inject–Brown, et al–while renewing some fan interest, will not be enough to make this team better than the Nationals or Braves next season.

    Did they convince Hamels to stay with a promise to bring in Hamilton?

  7. Cutter McCool

    July 31, 2012 11:00 PM

    LMFAO! Sorry that wasnt at the clip. (The Office? Really?) Problem with that is, the phils aren’t getting McCutchen or Kemp. And they’re not getting any younger– they can’t afford to waste a season rebuilding after this years debacle. What other options do they have–Melky Cabrera? LMFAO!

  8. Frank Reynolds

    July 31, 2012 11:19 PM

    My thoughts as well about Hamilton.

  9. NavyJoe

    August 01, 2012 12:47 AM

    How much do you think Hamilton is worth? How much do you think he will get in free agency?

    Assuming he is at least a 4-5 WAR guy for the next 3 years, that would put his value around $20MM/year right?

  10. hk

    August 01, 2012 05:35 AM


    The problem is that, once the bidding begins, he’ll probably get an AAV of $20M+ for 5+ years. With Hamilton, Bourn, Upton and Victorino (and maybe others) on the market, I hope RAJ doesn’t rush into free agency and set the CF market by overpaying (in $ and/or years) like he did with Moyer, Ibanez and Papelbon.

  11. James Kerti

    August 01, 2012 08:57 AM

    What frustrates me most is that we watched Amaro give Lee a huge contract to bring him back, offer Howard that outrageous extension, bring in Papelbon with that absurd deal, overpay guys like Kendrick and Blanton, and surrender our best prospects for Pence with the knowledge that he’d probably be due about $12-14M in 2013.

    Now, they suddenly have to shed salary quickly and get whatever little they can, and we’re supposed to excuse Amaro for having his hands tied.

    Uh, hello?

  12. bill

    August 01, 2012 09:51 AM

    I think guys like Blanton/Pierre/Wigginton can still be moved though, clearing waivers shouldn’t be particularly difficult, right?

  13. DS

    August 01, 2012 09:59 AM

    Hamilton is older and more injury prone than Victorino. How does that qualify as getting younger?

  14. Phillie697

    August 01, 2012 10:06 AM

    I hope you’re reading this MB, but I feel like I need to whack Cutter McCool in the face with a monkfish for the Josh Hamilton suggestion.

  15. Phillie697

    August 01, 2012 10:11 AM

    @James Kerti,

    I feel your need to vent about RAJ, but most of us here have already vented long ago, so we don’t feel that emotionally necessary to go postal on the man for these okay trades. But don’t worry, he’ll do something really stupid in due time.

  16. EricL

    August 01, 2012 11:33 AM

    James, part of the reason they had to sell to clear salary was because the team just wasn’t very good. If this team was within spitting distance of first place you can be sure that they wouldn’t have been in salary-dumping mode at the deadline.

    Ruben’s team failed, and you can blame him for that, but that failure created a need to clear salary, particularly for guys who aren’t going to be here next season, so selling was the right move at this juncture.

  17. James Kerti

    August 01, 2012 12:09 PM

    Selling guys like Victorino and Blanton makes sense if they’re not coming back next year. Dumping Pence a year after trading the farm for him pisses me off.

  18. hk

    August 01, 2012 12:55 PM

    James Kerti,

    If you’re pissed off now that they only got back 50 cents (?) on the dollar and some payroll flexibility yesterday for Pence, imagine how pissed off you might be in 14 months if they had kept him here for the remainder of this season and again next year for ~$14.5M.

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