The Phillies Should Explore Trading Cody Asche

Third baseman Cody Asche hit a pair of solo home runs in Tuesday night’s 6-2 win against the Miami Marlins. It’s the first multi-homer game of his three-year career. Surprisingly, it was also his first multi-hit game since August 14.

Asche currently holds a subpar .303 weighted on-base average. The National League average for third basemen is .323 and the average for left fielders is .320. He would rank ahead of only Pablo Sandoval (.288) among qualified third basemen and ahead of only Michael Taylor (.280) and Ichiro Suzuki (.259) among left fielders with 400-plus plate appearances.

The Phillies moved Asche to left field to create room at third base for Maikel Franco, but he moved back to his previous position once the prospect hit the shelf with a wrist injury. He’s been abysmal defensively at both positions according to both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. As a result, he’s been worth -1.5 WAR per BR and -1.0 per FanGraphs. Asche is tied with Ryan Howard in BR WAR and only Danny Santana, Rene Rivera, Angel Pagan, Victor Martinez, and Wilin Rosario have been less valuable to their respective teams than Asche has been to the Phillies.

Asche, 25, won’t become eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2016 season. He doesn’t have a position on the Phillies as Franco will man third base after healing up during the off-season, and the corner outfield spots will be spoken for by younger, better players like Aaron Altherr. As a result, he’ll head into spring training as a bench bat. Asche will be cheap, earning not much more than this season’s $517,500 salary, but money won’t be an object for the Phillies as they currently have only $64 million committed, not including their 10 potential arbitration cases.

Asche’s low salary and remaining four years of team control don’t hold much value to the Phillies, but they might to another team. Given how ubiquitous analytics have become in baseball, the Phillies won’t fool any team into thinking Asche is a commodity, but a team like the Marlins (if they unload Martin Prado) or the Milwaukee Brewers could value his ability to play two positions at a cheap cost without much in the way of salary commitment.

With every passing season, Asche’s trade value — whatever small amount of it exists now — will erode as he gets older, more expensive, and creeps closer to free agency. The Phillies won’t get a top prospect for Asche, but they could finagle a potentially useful player to toss into the lower level of the minor leagues and see what happens. The Phillies aren’t lacking in immediate depth, and they won’t miss him.

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25 comments

  1. Romus

    September 23, 2015 07:55 AM

    Alone in a trade, Asche probably will not bring back valued assets, but in a package he could be a good filler.
    Also, if the Phillies wanted to try to trade him for another team’s CompBal Round B pick (approx. 70th thru a 77th pick in the Rule 4) or trade him to a team already under the penalty restriction phase for international signings….for additional allocation monies for July 2nd signing period.

    • Romus

      September 23, 2015 09:25 AM

      These are the six teams selecting in Round B….maybe one of them would be willing to trade the pick for Asche:
      Round B (selections occur after second round)…1. Padres (67th)… 2. Indians….3. Twins…. 4. Brewers…. 5. Orioles…. 6. Rays(72nd)

  2. Paul

    September 23, 2015 09:30 AM

    Love this idea! But what could they get for Asche? Using your example, is there any player or prospect on the Marlins or Brewers that you like?

    • That's Life

      September 24, 2015 01:07 PM

      You get back a player just like Asche, but with a different name – LoL. aka he has zero trade value.

  3. Carmine

    September 23, 2015 11:49 AM

    Good thought but why just contemplate moving him to another bottom feeding team? The numbers won’t show it , but Asche could have value as a bench bat and utility guy to a smaller market contender that would appreciate his affordability. Maybe we could get a lower level pitcher that could one day bolster the bullpen.

  4. 100Bucks

    September 23, 2015 02:39 PM

    The crazy thing about Asche is how consistent his numbers are. When you look at his 2014 and 2015 batting stats they are very similar. This isn’t a guy having a better or worse season, he is having an “Asche” season.
    That makes it easy to determine whether he is valuable to this team, at this time. I agree, trade him if you can.

    • Slim

      September 26, 2015 10:09 AM

      that’s true for the year. But Asche’s 2nd half (.248/.316/.466) looked very different from his first half this year, esp. in terms of power. Why not see if he can sustain that next spring – he could be a more valuable trade piece. And he’s not blocking anyone just yet.

      • Steve (Tampa)

        September 27, 2015 11:07 AM

        I agree. Take away a dismal month of May and Asche’s season was merely not good as opposed to poor. Still, he’s finishing the season with two consecutive solid months. I think he’s a guy you need to give a good deal of ABs to the first few months of 2016. If he’s posting a .600 OPS at that point, hopefully N.Williams is ready to push him to the bench. On the other hand, if he could OPS .750 for two months he becomes considerably more valuable in the trade market

  5. Matthew

    September 23, 2015 03:22 PM

    It’s about time everyone is coming around to the idea of Asche being little more than a bench player. I never understood why when talking about filling positions for the future, Asche would always come up as someone who HAD to be given a position somewhere.

    He just doesn’t do anything well. He has very little power, no speed, doesn’t walk much, low batting average, poor defense. What value does he provide even if he was able to get his batting average up to around .280 or so? His on base % would still be around a meager .300 and he gives you nothing else.

    I don’t care if they trade him or not. He won’t bring any value back. Just make sure he isn’t starting on a nightly basis next year.

  6. R. Paul

    September 23, 2015 04:22 PM

    “He’s been abysmal defensively at both positions” is an exaggeration. He’s no gold glover, but in watching him all season, I saw an improving outfielder and a slightly less than average third baseman. Hardly abysmal. He works hard and will develop into, I believe, an average left-fielder and third baseman. You may be right about considering a trade for him, however, he could become a valuable bench player and pinch-hitter with some pop in his bat.

  7. fRAnk

    September 24, 2015 12:48 PM

    How can you critique his defensive performance in LF so stridently?

    On quick reflection, its in keeping with the trajectory of your contributions over the course of this season.

  8. That's Life

    September 24, 2015 01:06 PM

    Graduated with an Econ degree carrying a GPA over 3.4. He most likely has close to $1Million stashed away from his 2ish seasons of MLB ball. He’s going to be just fine, he’s just not a MLB player, like the rest of us.

    • Romus

      September 24, 2015 01:22 PM

      And do not forget, also a Cornhusker.

    • Eddie

      September 24, 2015 05:31 PM

      He’s made ~$1,200,000 in his MLB career; after taxes that’s maybe $700K. Take off the agent’s cut (5%) and the expenses of living like a MLB player (Apartment in a second city, batting cage in the house, private coaching in offseason, charity events, etc.), and that’s down to $600k earned over 2 1/2 years …probably more like $250k saved. Still pretty nice for a 25 year old..

  9. Romus

    September 24, 2015 01:27 PM

    Asche’s truest value lies in playing second base.
    That changes his whole dynamic and his worth as a MLB player.
    Though it didn’t happen in ’11 at his 21age season in short-ball, Williamsport, if I were in his spikes, would give it another go in Instructs and see what transpires.
    The left field experiment may be a failure in that his bat doesn’t play there…but at second base it could to more of a degree.

    • 100Bucks

      September 24, 2015 03:41 PM

      Romus – I don’t think he has the range for second base. A good second baseman needs to be quick to cover second or cut off a deep infield single. I assume that if Asche was quick he would have stolen a base or two.

    • Eddie

      September 24, 2015 05:35 PM

      I’m sure he played shortstop and maybe even pitched when he was in high school; why not move him back there while you’re at it?

      The Phillies are not so foolish that they don’t understand the defensive spectrum. When a team moves a 21 year old off a position after only two months there, it’s for a reason.

      • Romus

        September 24, 2015 05:48 PM

        IMO, that is the only remote position that will bring him the value that is commensurate with being a starter on a MLB team. Vranco has third, and no way he can beat out either Altherr or Sweeney in LF …especially defensively.
        And on the subject, didn’t see many Gold Gloves from Dan Uggla, but his first seven years saw a positive WAR.!

      • Jack

        September 24, 2015 10:17 PM

        Yeah, I agree Romus. If Asche can just only somehow double his walk rate and hit triple the amount of home runs he hits now then maybe he can have value at 2B like Uggla used to!

      • Romus

        September 25, 2015 07:49 AM

        Totally agree Jack…how about even raise his K rate 5 to 7 percentage points and possibly reach a high mark for UZR.

  10. BRIAN

    September 25, 2015 12:04 PM

    He only has 1000 PA in the MLB. He is 25 and under control for peanuts. Give him more time and he will hit .280/20/85 for the next five years.

  11. Andy

    September 25, 2015 04:20 PM

    Bill, I am usually in agreement with what you write. I don’t get this one. How do you expect any team to value the fact he can play two positions, when you prove convincingly that he is terrible at those two positions?

  12. Carl DeHaven

    September 26, 2015 11:17 PM

    You people are crazy I must say!! Getting rid of all your good players does not make sense!!!! Asche would be playing every day some where if I had my way. You all are Idots

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