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.