Phillies Trade Deadline Preview
We’re less than a month away from the August 1st trade deadline — July 31st falls on a Sunday this year, so the league pushed the deadline back one day — and things are bizarrely quiet for the Phillies. Since trading Bobby Abreu in July 2006, the Phillies have been central figures in high profile deals and rumors seemingly every single year. This year, however, the team is not looking to “buy” and all of their key chips to “sell” have already said their farewells to Philadelphia.
The chances of the Phillies being involved in any sort of blockbuster deal this month are infinitesimally small, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be active. Teams ought to always be open to any available avenue to improve and that means the Phillies will need to investigate whether there are opportunities to bring in talent to bolster the team’s rebuild.
Let’s take stock of what changes this month may bring about for the Phillies.
This isn’t exactly a group that can be cashed in to fuel a rebuild, but they are players with some degree of major league value who are all unlikely to contribute meaningfully to the Phillies. Hellickson and Bourjos are both free agents at the end of the season and Gomez has one final year of arbitration remaining before he reaches free agency.
Hellickson is clearly the highlight of this weak group. His vulnerability to the home run ball has prevented him from clearly establishing himself as a solid mid-rotation arm, but there is no question that he’s proven himself to be a reliable back-of-the-rotation piece. On the strength of his changeup, he’s striking out batters at the highest rate of his career (21.9%) and his ERA has settled at a reasonable, if not sexy, 4.06 mark. Given the expected weakness of the available starting pitching options this trading deadline, Hellickson could be a desirable option for contending teams looking to bolster their rotation. The Phillies aren’t exactly going to get a Cole Hamels return for Hellickson, but they could get a low-level prospect or two. But perhaps the biggest benefit to trading Hellickson is that it opens up the final two months for a rotation of: Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Zach Eflin, and Jake Thompson.
Bourjos is on an absolutely unreal tear with a .456/.500/.750 slashline over his last 76 plate appearances. Combined with his speed and his ability to play all three outfield positions, it’s conceivable that a team with a need for a fourth outfielder or an injury replacement could pursue Bourjos. The return would be minimal, but removing him from the roster would serve the dual purpose of opening a spot for Nick Williams.
Gomez has been absolutely tremendous at the back of the bullpen this season. He’s not a typical dominant closer and, as a result, any trade return would likely be minimal. Still, he’s now a “proven closer” with 22 saves and a sub-3.00 ERA. There’s no “need” to trade Gomez, but if a team offers a return with long-term value to the Phillies, then it’s a deal they’d have to strongly consider.
I don’t really know what to make of Cody Asche. I’ve always loved his swing and right now it has him hitting .283/.327/.525 on the season. His lack of any strong baserunning or defensive skills limit his utility to a team, but he’s still just 26 and has no clear future role on the Phillies. If there’s a potential match out there, the Phillies will have to listen.
I struggle to imagine the team trading Blanco, but they have to at least listen to offers for their 32-year-old free-agent-to-be utility infielder who is, once again, succeeding at the plate. He’s proven himself to be an extraordinarily valuable clubhouse guy, but if the right offer comes along I suppose a trade is possible.
I’m of the mindset that it’s wise to cash in non-elite bullpen chips whenever possible. The price tag the Phillies would put on Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos would likely prevent them from moving, but the other relievers — Severino Gonzalez, David Hernandez, Adam Morgan, Brett Oberholtzer — should be available if a team is interested… I just wouldn’t bank on the interest being there.
Ruiz, Galvis, and Hernandez all have limited long-term utility to the Phillies, but it’s hard to see an appealing trade scenario lining up for any of them. The Phillies clearly respect and value Ruiz’s abilities as a mentor to their young staff, even as his offensive and defensive skills decline. I fully expect he’ll finish out his contract in Philadelphia this year.
One of Galvis or Heranndez could be the odd man out whenever J.P. Crawford comes up, but neither has established enough trade value at this point to merit considering solving that upcoming roster clog via trade.
Catchers are extraordinarily unpredictable and, as a result, if I were calling the shots for the Phillies there’s no way I’d pursue a Cameron Rupp trade. He’s proven that he can handle a major league bat at a level which is at least enough to be a backup catcher. Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro may both come along and push Rupp off the roster, but there are simply no guarantees they will exhibit the development and health necessary to make that happen. The trade return isn’t worth decimating the incredible value catching depth provides.
Franco, Herrera, and the non-Hellickson rotation members are staying because obviously they are. And Ryan Howard, well, what’s left to be said? He’s had an extraordinary career for the Phillies and I hope in his final months the fans show him some sort of appreciation for the player he was instead of dwelling on what he is.
It’ll be a low key trade deadline for the Phillies, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be exciting. The second half will bring about multiple intriguing major league debuts for key Phillies prospects and each trade of a major leaguer will open a roster spot for those prospects to fill.