Phillies trade Severino Gonzalez for PTBNL or Cash
In a startlingly inconsequential move, the Phillies have traded RHP Severino Gonzalez to the Marlins for cash or a Player to be Named Later. A move seemed imminent as Gonzalez was designated for assignment following the last week’s signing of Michael Saunders. The former Phillies top ten prospect has sputtered in his two years in the Majors, posting an ERA just below 7 in 66 innings split between the rotation and the bullpen.
Clearly, that sounds like a player that should not have factored into the Phillies future plans, but just for funzies’ sake, let’s make the case that Gonzalez was worth hanging onto. His ugly 5.60 ERA in 2016 nonetheless conceals surprisingly good peripherals. He posted a healthy 8.66 K/9 and just 1.78 BB/9 last season with a HR/FB% of 7.1% and an infield fly ball rate north of 10%. Based off those numbers, you might conclude that there’s a potentially effective pitcher somewhere in there.
As is a common refrain with underperforming pitchers, Gonzalez has struggled with BABIP, running a career .368 mark that would be number three among MLB relievers over the past two seasons, if he qualified for the leaderboard. His Left on base rate also checks in at below 60%, roughly 13 percentage points below the league average. This is why FIP-based WAR has him producing a mediocre 1.4 WAR/150 IP and results-based WAR has him producing a god-awful negative-2.0 WAR/150 IP.
So was it wise to part with a potential positive contributor based on 66 innings of underperforming peripherals? Generally, that line of thinking isn’t well respected around here, but personally, I’d be surprised if the Phillies come to regret this decision. Gonzalez allowed over 50% of his batted balls in the air, the type of profile that does not do exceptionally well in Citizens’ Bank Park, as evidenced by his 1.23 HR/9 allowed thus far in his career, despite decent HR/FB rates. Even if he had lived up to his career 3.90 FIP, that would still be pretty mediocre for a reliever (league average 3.93 ERA).
I’ve probably spent too much time already thinking about what will be a minor transaction on the Phillies long and winding road back to greatness, but I think it’s important to give every transaction some context. Plus the offseason is boring anyways.