Phillies Trade Rumor Roundup
We’re officially one week out from the non-waiver trade deadline. All deals must be completed by 4pm EDT next Monday, August 1st. (They pushed the deadline back one day from the typical July 31st because the 31st is a Sunday.) I must admit, I’m finding the pace leading up to this deadline to be much more relaxing and enjoyable than the hectic, unsettled pace of the past few Julys in Philadelphia. The high profile pieces are all gone and all that’s left are a few middling trade candidates, none of whom will make or break the Phillies future. Let’s check in on where thing stand on the rumor mill.
The Biggest Buzz – Jeremy Hellickson
The trade candidate getting the most buzz for the Phillies right now is Hellickson. The starting pitching market is startling weak in part because the upcoming free agent starting pitching market will be among the worst in years. Hellickson has been slightly better than league average this year thanks to a 3.84 ERA and strong strikeout/walk numbers: 21.6 K%, 5.5 BB%. He’s struggled with home runs, but just his modest success this year is enough to make him one of the better pitchers in line for the free agent market this winter. By extension, he is one of the most attractive starting pitcher rentals on the trade market right now — maybe even the second best rental available after Rich Hill.
As a result, rumors containing Hellickson’s name have been swirling and the most oft repeated one is that the Marlins are working to acquire him. Although Miami moved the fences in, they still have a large park and the team has elite defensive outfielder which could help negate some of Hellickson’s home run woes.
Here’s the most recent update to the Hellickson/Marlins courtship:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 25, 2016
The Marlins farm system lacks for impact talent in the upper minors, so it makes sense that the Phillies would be scouting their lower levels for more lottery ticket type players. As Eric Longenhagen noted, one player who could potentially be of interest is their 2015 first-round pick, Josh Naylor, who the Phillies were said to have scouted heavily prior to last summer’s draft. Naylor is currently batting .265/.315/.433 for Miami’s Low-A affiliate in Greensboro.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe also reported that the left-handed relief pitching veteran Mike Dunn has been rumored to be part of a package going from Miami to Philadelphia. Dunn will be a free agent at the end of the season, but has a $3.45M salary this year (Hellickson’s salary is $7M) so bringing in Dunn could be a way for the Phillies to make the deal more financially palatable for the Marlins. Given the Phillies’ financial flexibility, if taking a veteran with even a moderately bloated salary helps them get the prospects they want, it’s a no-brainer.
Rumors have been few and far between for the Phillies other primary candidates. The Giants are said to be searching for bullpen upgrades and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported that they were looking at both Gomez and Hernandez. Now that Aroldis Chapman is off the market, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the relief pitching market pick up steam.
It’s worth noting that the monstrous prospect packages being exchanged for elite relievers (Craig Kimbrel, Ken Giles, Chapman) shouldn’t be expected to have much impact on the price for Gomez or Hernandez. Don’t expect a trickle down effect here. Teams are valuing elite relievers extraordinarily highly, but middle-of-the-road relievers are still just middle-of-the-road relievers.
As for Bourjos, if any team has been reported to have interest, I’ve missed it. However, Altherr’s return to the major league roster is fast approaching. His rehab assignment ends in two days which means he will need to be either added to the Phillies roster or optioned to Triple-A prior to Thursday’s game. That could provide incentive to clear Bourjos from the roster if there are any unreported offers for Bourjos currently on the table.
The Surprise Candidate – Vince Velasquez?!
Then there’s this:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 25, 2016
Velasquez has been phenomenal for the Phillies, but his spotty injury history and his difficulties commanding the zone still make it more than conceivable that his ultimate major league future lies in the bullpen. If I were the Phillies, I wouldn’t entertain trade offers for a guy like Aaron Nola too seriously, but for Velasquez? Well, I’d be listening.
Velasquez has demonstrated his extraordinary potential at times this season, most notably with his 16 strikeout performance against the Padres. He also has five remaining years of team control. These are outstanding reasons for the Phillies to hold onto him for dear life, but if the Rangers offer up a strong enough package, there could be a match here as crazy as it seems on first glance. Even after giving up three Top 100 prospects for Cole Hamels a year ago, the Rangers farm system is still among the best in the league and could generate an offer the Phillies can’t refuse.
I will be shocked if Hellickson is still on the Phillies at 4:01 on August 1st and I still think it’s quite likely that Gomez is also traded. For now, I’ll stick with just those two being dealt over the next week.