The Phillies have not had the first half of the season that fans expected/hoped for, but they are still very much in this race in both the NL East and especially the Wild Card. There are a few different ways this Phillies front office can approach the upcoming trade deadline: they can buy, sell, stand pat, or they could even do a combination of buying and selling. I will be making the case for each.
The Case for being Buyers
You can absolutely make the case for the Phillies being firm buyers at this deadline. Is it the smartest thing for the future of the club? Probably not. Is it a very risky thing to do considering it might be for a one game Wild Card game when the winner of that game will face the dominant Los Angeles Dodgers? Absolutely. But we are going to make the case for it anyway.
One might suggest that the Phillies are still very much in the race for the National League East title, and they very well could be. In order for them to get back in this division race, that requires them to make a move or two to this starting pitching staff. It also requires the likes of Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, JT Realmuto, and Jean Segura to all go on a hot streak at once and sustain it over the course over a couple of weeks. If that happens, then the Phillies absolutely have a chance to catch the Atlanta Braves atop the NL East.
Who is available?
An interesting rental outfielder would be Pirates outfielder Starling Marte, who would more than likely play centerfield and move Kingery to third base.
Some starting pitchers the Phillies could be looking at as buyers would be one year rentals such as Madison Bumgarner, Tanner Roark, Jordan Lyles, or even a reunion with former Phillies great Cole Hamels. Those particular starting pitchers are under contract until the end of this season and then are free agents.
Trade candidate starting pitchers that are under team control for longer than the end of this season are Marcus Stroman, Zach Greinke, Mike Minor, Trevor Bauer, Matthew Boyd, and Mike Leake.
At what cost?
Trading for a pitcher like Greinke would most likely not require you to give up a steep prospect pool IF and only IF the Phillies are willing to eat most, if not all, of his huge contract through the 2022 season.
Trading for a pitcher like Matthew Boyd of the Detroit Tigers would most likely be the steepest price to pay for the Phillies, as he is under a reasonable contract up until the end 2023 season. The package to pay for Boyd would be something along the lines of top pitching prospect Adonis Medina, shortstop prospect Luis Garcia, current starter Zach Eflin, and top outfield prospect Adam Haseley. So if the Phillies are willing to pay that steep price, then they would be able to acquire a stud young left handed starter like Matthew Boyd.
In order to be in the market for those players, they must have a good seven game homestand out of the All Star break. They take on the Washington Nationals, who are 28-11 in their last 39 games, for 3 games and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are the best team in all of baseball with a record 60-32, in a 4 game series.
The Case for being Sellers
With a very inconsistent pitching rotation besides ace Aaron Nola, a banged up/inconsistent bullpen, and a lineup that has been up and down all season, you could certainly make the case for the Phillies being sellers. The Phillies are 6.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Even though they do currently control one of the two NL Wildcard spots, the team is 14-20 in their 34 games.
Who might go?
If the Phillies do go the route of selling, one of those players that they sell is almost definitely going to be current starting second baseman Cesar Hernandez. A couple of reasons: one being moving Scott Kingery back to his natural position which is second base, another reason being that Hernandez is more than likely not part of the team’s future plans.
Third baseman Maikel Franco, newly acquired bench infielder Brad Miller, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, and even closer Hector Neris are players the team could consider selling off and getting prospects in return.
The biggest sell
Now, trading Hector Neris could be a thing the Phillies think about if they really do not believe they are going anywhere this season. Here are a few reasons why:
- Only signed through the end of the 2019 season
- There are an abundance of teams looking for bullpen help and will trade some quality prospects to get bullpen help
- Neris, besides a couple of bad outings, has been one of the more consistent closers in baseball, so the Phillies will get a nice piece or two back
Again, the decision whether to sell or not could all depend of the success, or lack thereof, that the Phillies have on this upcoming seven game homestand.
The Case for both Buying and Selling
The Phillies could even do a mixture of both. This would be the case if the team decides they are absolutely in on making the playoffs, but they also want to get prospects back on certain players.
If the Phillies decide to go this route, then the smart thing to do would be to buy controllable players, such as aforementioned SP Matthew Boyd, SP Trevor Bauer, SP Marcus Stroman, INF/OF Whit Merrifield, and OF Hunter Renfroe. The reason being that the Phillies get productive players for the remainder of this season and years to come. At the same time, they could sell off some pieces for whom these players could be replacements.
The Phillies could give up prospects like Adonis Medina, Adam Haseley, Luis Garcia, and Spencer Howard, while getting back prospects to replenish their farm system if they decide to trade guys like Zach Eflin, Hector Neris, and Cesar Hernandez.
Going this route might actually be the best way to go for the Phillies because they get back young, controllable, and more importantly productive players.
Which Direction? We Shall See
Like I have stated multiple times throughout this article, the Phillies decision on what to do at the trade deadline might all come down to how the team fares on this seven game homestand coming out of the All Star break.
Buckle up, Phillies fans. This is going to be a hectic and entertaining next three weeks!!