On Thursday, the Phillies announced that they had traded Vance Worley, the begoggled right hander, and highly regarded pitching prospect Trevor May to the Twins for light-hitting outfielder Ben Revere. To many it looked like the Phillies had overpaid in talent once again for a player of marginal utility. And while Revere is far from a superstar, he's a very useful player who should serve several very useful roles for the Phillies.
1. Ben Revere, the player: As a 24 year old for the Twins in 2012, Ben Revere posted 3.4 fWAR. Seriously, he did that, despite a weak .294/.333/.342 line. How? Defense, and speed. He benefited from some luck (.325 BABIP) but an elevated BABIP is not necessarily abnormal for a player with Revere's running ability.
His .049 ISO is almost comically low, however.
2. Flexibility. Revere is a pre-arbitration player and will earn less than $500,000 in 2013. That's it. The Phillies will probably pay Revere less in his all of his pre-free agency seasons combined than they would have paid Michael Bourn in the first year of a new contract. The Phillies are an aging team, with needs that will probably crop up unexpectedly. By deploying an inexpensive asset in a key position, they can reallocate those resources elsewhere.
3. The Price. As with nearly every trade, your feelings have to be guided by what you think of the cost. Specifically, in this case, Vance Worley and Trevor May. While both players have a great deal of ability, they are still both young pitchers, one of the riskiest commodities in the sport.
Worley, as we know, was tremendous in his 2011 rookie campaign, but faltered quite a bit in 2012. Turns out he had bone spurs in his elbow and had successful surgery to have them removed this fall.
Most of Worley's success has been predicated on his weird ability to generate called strikes. He was never an elite prospect, and was seen mostly as a back-end starter and likely bullpen piece. No shame in that, but his emergence as a mid-rotation starter was based, again, on those called strikes.
Awesome things, all of those .gifs, but is smart money on Worley maintaining that ability in the future? Assuming he comes back healthy, does the league adjust? Were his struggles toward the end of 2012 not a result of injury, but of hitters catching on? The Twins' problem now!
Trevor May has appeared on prospect lists for a couple seasons now and it's easy to see why: Big frame, big mid-to-upper 90s heat, good breaking pitch, smart. All along he's struggled with command, and after a good start in Double-A Reading, May fizzled to a 4.87 ERA in 150 innings pitched, with 22 home runs*, 78 walks, and 151 strikeouts. Three true outcomes!
May turned 23 in September. The history of professional baseball is littered with the broken down, disappointing wreckage of live-armed kids who couldn't put it together. Command, injury, etc. Pitchers fall apart.
May has also been widely described as the Phillies' "Number One Prospect," which was true before the season. But based on his struggles in 2012, some new acquisitions, and the performance of some pre-existing prospects, it's almost impossible that May would have retained that top prospect ranking heading into 2013.
Again, I like Trevor May as a prospect, but that top ranking also had a lot to do with the relative weakness of the Phillies' minor league system.
IN CONCLUSION, I like this trade. I don't love it love it, but I like it.