Report: Phillies Looking to Sell High on Domonic Brown
Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports:
Sources: Phillies actively shopping OF Domonic Brown. Looking for controllable starting pitching in return. Idea is to sell high on him.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2013
At first blush, this doesn’t seem to make much sense. Domonic Brown is still not yet eligible for arbitration and won’t become a free agent until after the 2017 season. He’s coming off of an All-Star season in which he bashed 27 home runs and was the team’s most productive offensive player.
But the Phillies, as Michael Baumann illustrated in his latest post, aren’t going to be very competitive in 2014. It’s even likely that they’re not competitive in 2015 as well, in his first year of arbitration eligibility. That’s why the Phillies should be actively shopping Brown. He’ll mean little to the team when he’s cheapest and the most when he’s at his most expensive.
Despite Brown’s impressive showing last season, many still question his true talent level given that a bulk of his offensive contributions occurred in May and his walk rate, at only 7.2 percent, was markedly lower than many anticipated. He doesn’t add any value on the bases, and he subtracts value with subpar defense in either corner of the outfield. Ultimate Zone Rating, found at FanGraphs, graded his defense as abysmal, while Baseball Reference’s Total Zone merely had him below average. If 2013 was the height of what Brown can achieve, then 2.5 WAR (per B-R) or 1.6 WAR (per FG) is his ceiling. And if that’s true, then right now, perception of Brown’s value greatly exceeds his actual value. Thus, the Phillies would be right to try and capitalize on that.
As much as the Marlon Byrd signing might suggest otherwise, the team’s best chance to compete is not in 2014 or ’15, but in 2016 and beyond. If Jesse Biddle can contribute out of the rotation, if Maikel Franco lives up to the hype, if Cole Hamels is still effective several years from now, if Ben Revere has evolved into a table-setter, if a few of the young arms in the bullpen have become reliable late-inning options… then the Phillies could be a force in the NL East once again. The Phillies can further supplement that goal by trading Brown (and Jonathan Papelbon, for that matter) for prospects close to reaching the Majors (the heir to Jimmy Rollins, perhaps?) and serviceable pre-arb players.
That said, the Phillies don’t have to pull the trigger on a deal now. But it behooves them to take the initiative themselves because Brown is one injury or one bad half of the season from torpedoing his value.