Last week, the Atlanta Braves non-tendered two well-known and highly regarded starting pitchers, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, making both of them free agents. As it stands today, the 2015 Phillies rotation is Cole Hamels, (an injured) Cliff Lee, David Buchanan, Jerome Williams, and, uh, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez? To say they need more starting pitching is to say Ebeneezer Scrooge needs more Christmas spirit. Therefore, Medlen and Beachy should rocket to the top of their list of free agent targets, right? Not so fast.
As the Phillies won’t jump head-first into the free agent pool once again this winter, it seems we fans are destined for a quiet December and January. We’ll unwrap our new Phillies 2015 desk calendars and count down the days until pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida. There, the Phillies will embark on yet another journey into the bottom of the NL East, biding the time until the young players mature and blossom into the next generation of marketable stars. This has all of the excitement of a library.
One understated aspect of both last year’s and this coming year’s Phillies squads are the cast-offs who can reestablish their image and become valuable assets to the Phillies. We saw this with Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona), who signed with the Phillies on a one-year, $4.5 million deal. The club’s new analytics department saw a potential bounce-back candidate in Hernandez despite a horrific performance with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. With marked improvements in his strikeout and walk rates, combined with an expected regression in his home runs allowed rate, Hernandez seemed like a solid bet to become a trade chip for the Phillies come summer.
This isn’t a great time to be a Phillies fan–the team has been bad for a couple years now, and will probably be bad for at least one more, and while there are a few exciting young players on the horizon, odds are the next good Phillies team will not resemble this one very closely.
And quite frankly, this blows, because nothing interesting is happening. No big signings, no anticipation for breakout seasons from prospects, no sizing up competitors’ moves, because the Phillies are probably going to finish last in the division in 2015. So we’re waiting on trades–Marlon Byrd, Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, maybe even Jimmy Rollins. But the big one is Cole Hamels. Where might he go, and when, and what might he bring back in return when he does?
I get the anticipation, because any headlining prospect in a Cole Hamels trade would be a building block for a good Phillies team, and Hamels is the only trade chip the Phillies have that could really bring back a needle-moving return. We want to see action.
But all the news coming out of the national media is that potential trade partners–particularly the Dodgers–aren’t interested in paying Ruben Amaro‘s asking price. And Amaro’s asking price is high–outrageously or preposterously so, or so it is said.
Good. That’s exactly what Amaro should be doing, and that’s exactly what I’d do in his place, and because the kvetching about how the world is ending because the Phillies haven’t traded Hamels for Mookie Betts by Thanksgiving is driving me into a homicidal rage, I thought it’d be helpful if I explained why this is so.
There’s not a whole lot going on in the baseball world right now, particularly as it pertains to the Phillies. Feel free to use this thread to talk about whatever you want.
Since Michael Baumann isn’t doing the Crash Bag anymore, I figure I’ll use this opportunity to offer to take any Phillies- or MLB-related questions you might have. If there are enough questions, I’ll answer them in an upcoming post.
MLB.com‘s Jesse Sanchez reports that Cuban free agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas has signed a six-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks worth $68.5 million.
Recently, Corinne Landrey wrote about why the Phillies likely had merit in souring on him over defensive concerns. Now that Tomas is off the market, it’s worth reading what she wrote again to keep things in perspective.
For much of the offseason, it’s been assumed by many that the Phillies signing Yasmany Tomas was all but inevitable. Self-proclaimed “rebuilding” teams aren’t often the highest bidders for free agents, but Tomas, as you may have heard, is not your typical free agent. MLB players reach free agency after six years of service time at the major league level and, consequently, it’s exceedingly rare to see players younger than age 28 hit the market. As a result, teams generally expect to return value upfront on lengthy free agent deals while taking a hit as the player declines for the later portion of the contract. Tomas, just 24 years old, is an entirely different commodity.
An international free agent out of Cuba, Tomas ideally represents the reverse contract situation of most free agents. He is presumably more akin to a top tier MLB-ready prospect that may (or may not) struggle at first, but could develop into his peak for the later years of what figures to be a 5-7 year contract. If, as Pat Gillick suggested, the Phillies do no project to contend until 2017 or 2018 at the earliest, the comparatively older Max Scherzer and Hanley Ramirez free agents of the world wouldn’t figure into their long range plan, but Tomas, a young corner outfielder with power, could be exactly what they need.