Phillies Acquire Another Roll Of The Dice

The Phillies today traded for walking model of inconsistency Clay Buchholz. Along for the ride is a $13.5 million, one year commitment for 2017, which appears the preferred contract length of their offseason. Heading to Boston in the exchange is prospect Joshua Tobias, a 24 year old second baseman who most recently demonstrated his baseball aptitude at A+ Clearwater. It remains uncertain whether the Phillies are buying low on Buchholz, or just buying.

Tobias has done little but hit since he was drafted by the Phillies in 2015. But he has not drawn high praise for his defense, and remains buried in the 2B depth chart behind Cesar Hernandez, Scott Kingery, and Jesmuel Valentin. As such, he immediately becomes a top ten prospect in the Red Sox system, drawing uncanny comparisons to perennial All-Star Dustin Pedroia.

Buchholz is the embodiment of maddening. At his finest, he easily slides into the top half of most any rotation. During the less fine moments, he alternates DL stints with a David Buchanan-like pitching ability. Inconsistency, then, is the bane of his professional existence. Consider the most recent five year stretch of Buchholz’s career.

2012: 189 IP, 4.56 ERA, 4.65 FIP
2013: 108 IP, 1.74 ERA, 2.78 FIP
2014: 170 IP, 5.34 ERA, 4.01 FIP
2015: 113 IP, 3.26 ERA, 2.68 FIP
2016: 139 IP, 4.78 ERA, 5.06 FIP

To peg Buchholz next year is akin to predicting the direction of a tornado. The projections throw a roughly 1.3 WAR value on Buchholz over 127 innings for the coming season, but that was only after the computer attempting to run those projections smashed itself on the floor in frustration.

Reactions to the trade will be mixed, but it’s hardly for the cost involved. The front office has done well to trade away only superfluous assets. The distress will come on the merits of having Buchholz occupy a place in the starting rotation while the organization is flush with pitching prospects at the upper levels. But per their debuts this past season, both Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin could use further sharpening of their craft. Now they will have to wait for the rigors of pitching to eventually demand their presence in Philadelphia this year. And it will. Especially with Clay Buchholz in the rotation.

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  1. Steve

    December 20, 2016 06:11 PM

    “The projections throw a roughly 1.3 WAR value on Buchholz over 127 innings for the coming season, but that was only after the computer attempting to run those projections smashed itself on the floor in frustration.”

    hahaha this was most excellent! Basically sums up the past bit of time as a fan

  2. Andrew R.

    December 20, 2016 06:12 PM

    I like this move for many reasons. Firstly, Klentak said he was looking for another bullpen piece and a lefty, outfield, reserve bat. This just shows he’s a liar in a good way. Secondly, Bucholz will now be pitching in the NL. A DH’s spot in the lineup gets replaced with a pitcher’s spot, and you would think, that gives him another 2-3 automatic outs per outing. And hey! Look at those numbers! Seems like he pitches better in odd-numbered years! He’s due! And it’s a walk year for him! Big returns in July I can feel it!!

    But on a serious note, as long he gets traded for something more than Josh Tobias, this is a decent move.

  3. Dave

    December 20, 2016 06:47 PM

    LOVE this move. Even if we get the “bad” Buchholz. Its a one year deal, and the Phils are printing money now. No downside.

    Unless Tobias actually becomes anything remotely like Pedroia, then I’mma be ticked off.

  4. Romus

    December 21, 2016 09:44 AM

    Looks like the Klentak model so far.
    2016-Morton and Hellickson hoping to use as flip currency at the deadline for meaningful prospects.
    2017-Buchholtz and again Hellickson.
    He is about due to get this one spot on.

  5. Keystone

    December 21, 2016 12:32 PM

    I like this move but it does seem to make the AAA Lehigh Valley roster a bit crowded.
    1. Jake Thompson
    2. Zach Eflin
    3. Alec Asher
    4. Ben Lively
    5. Mark Appel
    6. Adam Morgan
    7. Nick Pivetta
    8. Mark Leiter
    And I’m not sure there is anywhere in AA Reading to move those guys as Reading looks to start:
    1. Ricardo Pinto, 2. Elniery Garcia, 3. Tyler Viza, 4. Tom Eshelman, 5. Brandon Leibrandt, 6. John richy, and 7. Tommy Bergjans.
    I know you can NEVER have enough starting pitching but I wonder if there are enough starts for the guys to take. I would assume the Iron Pigs do not go with an eight man rotation to start the season or the Reading Fightin Phils to go with a seven man rotation.

    • Romus

      December 21, 2016 03:54 PM

      Keystone….with all the surplus, perhaps a trade of some sort is brewing to cull the herd. Of course at LHV, some of the pitchers could end up in the pen….Appel, Morgan and Leiter, to name a few .

    • Steve

      December 22, 2016 06:21 AM

      Is the any possibility of them using a 6 man rotation at any level? It seems like it would work better in the minors, but it may just make sense for the major league roster.

      • Romus

        December 22, 2016 09:14 AM

        Steve…….I can see it in the minors and some already do it with the pitch count limitations on young pitchers and where wins are not the ultimate goal.
        But in the majors creating a 6-man rotation may shorten the bench a little or limit your bullpen….unless, the 6th guy is also the long reliever.

      • Steve

        December 22, 2016 01:07 PM

        Exactly, i think itd be ideal for our MLB staff with Helly, Buchholz, VV, Nola Eickhoff and Eflin, as Nola and Eflin come back from an injury, and VV will always be on somewhat of an innings watch. But as you said, that would leave our BP one man “short” from where most teams like to be. You could do it with Morgan, but i dont think hes a good MLB SP unless its an emergency.

  6. boomerbubba

    December 27, 2016 02:44 AM

    I think they’re not done shopping for starting pitching.
    They found out what they have last year and it was awful, for the most part.
    I like the deal. Add another or two quality veterans, and the team is set for 2017. Then they can turn to developing the offense.
    Starting pitching is like an offensive line in football. It is the foundation to build from.
    Just don’t bring Joe Blanton back. Although it was fun watching the Cubbies feast on him.

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