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An Ex Post Look at the Phillies 2015 Ex Pats

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Between the end of the 2014 season and now, the Phillies traded away 7 players, all of whom played somewhat- to incredibly-significant roles for the team. How'd they do as Philadelphia castoffs?

Reunited love.
Reunited love.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Once one of your players is traded to another team, it's very easy to fall into the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality.  After all, your Twitter feed doesn't read itself and have you seen that newest video from PewDiePie?

But with the season over and 175 days to opening day, it's worth taking a minute or two to see what the Phillies ex-pats did this year with their new teams.  After all was said and done, seven 2014 Phillies were traded.  Here's how they did, in order of when they were traded away:

Jimmy Rollins

I'll be honest: this one still hurts. The trade was the right thing for him and the Phillies, but not having Rollins in red pinstripes was one of the greatest sadnesses of the 2015 season (and there were a lot of them!).

That was a purely emotional reaction, though. As a baseball matter, not having Rollins wasn't that big of a problem. His 2014 was something of a bounceback season, as he saw his OPS+ hit perfectly average (100) for the first time in three years, and his fWAR (3.8) was almost 2.5 times his 2013 number (1.6).  But 2015 was a different beast.  Rollins was slow out of the gate and never really recovered.  His hitting counting stats weren't all too bad - 13 HR, 71 R, 41 RBI - but he stole less than half the bases that he did in 2014 (12 compared to 28) with more caught stealings (8 compared to 6), had a worse walk rate (7.8% to 10.5%), and was a liability in the field.  All in all, he dropped more than 3.5 wins, finishing with a 0.2 fWAR.

Rollins is a free agent after the playoffs, and with Dodgers' stud prospect Cory Seager dominating in his September call-up (.986 OPS) and chomping at the bit, there's very little chance Rollins returns to the Dodgers next year, at least not as the starting shortstop.  Nonetheless, with the Dodgers starting the dominating one-two punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the playoffs, Rollins has the chance to finish 2015 with another World Series ring.

Marlon Byrd

Byrd was the Phillies top home run hitter in 2014 and was rewarded with a trade to the Cincinnati Reds in the off-season.  He didn't finish the season with the lowly Reds, though, as he was traded in August to the Giants as part of their final playoff push.  That didn't go so well for the Giants, but hey, at least they tried.

Byrd's season was pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a 37 year old who has seen a late-career surge and finished last season with 25 home runs and a .757 OPS.  He performed just slightly worse in all categories, but not significantly so.  He finished the season with a .247/.290/.453 line for a .743 OPS and 101 OPS+ (compared with last year's .757 OPS and 109 OPS+).  He did slightly better after his trade to the Giants, but it was too little too late for the team.  Which isn't surprising though, since it was an odd-numbered year.

Byrd finished the season 6 plate appearances (just 6!) of the 550 that he needed for his vesting option to kick in for 2016, which means the Giants have a team option for him at $8 million.  I wouldn't be surprised to see the team pick it up, as even at just 1 fWAR for this year, that amount is probably worth it for a guy who hits that many home runs (especially given the power-deflated environment of the mid-2010s).

Jonathan Papelbon

The best thing about the 2015 Phillies season is that the team got rid of Jonathan Papelbon.  Somehow, Ruben Amaro Jr. persuaded the Nationals that they should give the Phillies a real-live human being who plays baseball in exchange for this disaster of a human being.

The second best thing about the 2015 season is that Papelbon will forever be remembered as the guy who tried to strangle the likely-MVP and one of the most exciting young players in baseball.  What he will not be remembered for is being the guy who came to the Nationals and put them over the top for their 2015 post-season push.  Papelbon had been a shut-down closer for the Phillies through July, but couldn't replicate that for the Nationals.  To be clear, he wasn't horrendous, but he wasn't what they had hoped for either.  His ERA almost doubled with the change of teams (1.59 to 3.04) and his FIP went up drastically as well (3.01 to 4.87).  He saved 7 games, but also blew 2 chances.  In other words, it was exactly what Phillies fans hoped would happen to him once traded.

Possibly the best part of the situation is that Papelbon will be a National again next year, as they are on the hook for his $11 million salary since they agreed to pick up his option as a condition of his being traded.  I'm sure the team is thrilled about that decision right now.  As is Bryce Harper.

Cole Hamels

Like the Rollins trade, this one hurt emotionally but made great baseball sense.  And so far, as much as the trade is looking good for the Phillies, it's also looking very good for the Rangers.

As a Ranger, Hamels picked up just where he left off for the Phillies.  Well, not exactly.  He left the Phillies with a no-hitter and his first two games with the Rangers was less than impressive as he gave up 9 earned runs over 13.2 innings.  But after that, he was back to form.  He started 10 games, and the Rangers won all 10 of them.  He posted a 3.21 ERA, allowed a .643 OPS, and had an over 3:1 K:BB ratio.  He finished the season in style, pitching a complete game to clinch the AL West for the Rangers.  There's no doubt that, after those first two starts, Cole did everything the Rangers wanted him to do when they traded for him.

The best thing for the Rangers?  They have him for another 3 years, and maybe even 4.  If his 2019 option is picked up, Hamels will be a free agent in 2020, just in time to be that missing piece for the next Phillies run at the World Series.

Jake Diekman

Diekman was somewhat of a throw-in in the Hamels trade.  After three years of promise as a bullpen arm, he was struggling with the Phils in 2015, posting a 5.15 ERA with an absurd 1.75 WHIP (plain English - almost 2 baserunners per inning).

But with the Rangers, Diekman either, if you like narratives, resuscitated his career with a new environment or, if you prefer stats talk, proved how small samples always warp our view of relievers.  He was almost unhittable for Texas, and has continued this into the playoffs.  In 21.2 regular season innings, Diekman gave up only 13 hits and 7 walks (less than 1 baserunner per inning).  He produced a 2.08 ERA for the team.  Of course, advanced stats show us he was pretty much the same pitcher - 3.65 FIP for the Phillies; 3.60 FIP for the Rangers.  But, for purposes of looking back, results matter, and his results were exponentially better in Texas than Philadelphia this year.

Diekman, like Revere, is still on his initial contract.  The Rangers have a good bullpen arm through 2018.

Ben Revere

Without Rollins' smile, at least we had Ben Revere's enthusiasm on the 2015 team, right?  Well, yes, but only for 2/3 of the season.  Like Hamels and Diekman, Revere also packed his bags on the last day of the non-waiver trade deadline, heading to the Blue Jays.

The change of scenery was good for Revere.  After a dismal April (.587 OPS) and a slightly-better May (.665), we got to see Revere at his best in June, as he posted an .838 OPS and even hit a home run off of Max Scherzer (praise be).  That wasn't enough to save him in Philadelphia, though.  Once traded to Toronto, Revere continued doing what he does - hitting for average, barely walking, with only the occasional extra base hit (including one more home run (glory)).  His .734 OPS was better than the .709 he posted for the Phillies, and he helped the best lineup in baseball make it to the playoffs for the first time since 1993 (no comment).

Revere will be a Blue Jay for at least the next two years as, even though for some reason it seems like he's a seasoned veteran, he's under club control on his first contract through 2017.

Chase Utley

The final piece of the dismantling took place in late August when Chase Utley was traded to the Dodgers.  Many of my fellow TGP bloggers were horrified to see Chase in Dodger blue, but I was thrilled.  If he wasn't going to be playing for the Phillies, then at least he'd be playing alongside Jimmy again.  (I mean, doesn't that picture at the top of this page just warm your heart?)

As we all know, Chase had a horrid season with the Phillies, marred by injury and some of the worst hitting in the majors.  With the Dodgers, Chase was better, but just by a bit.  He turned his .217/.284/.333 triple-slash with the Phils into a .202/.291/.363 triple-slash.  The rise in power was nice to see, especially with Dodgers stadium as his home field, but he was still not the Chase of old.  Further proving that he wasn't the Chase we know and love, the Dodgers started him at third base three times, something the Phillies tried in the minors but never did in the majors.

With only 423 plate appearances, Chase's 2016 option won't vest (he needed 500), so he will join Rollins as a free agent once the Dodgers exit the playoffs.  One thing we know for sure about Utley's future is that he won't be a Met next year.

****

Looking over this list, if you had to rank the ex-Phillies you cared the most about here, your top four would undoubtedly be Rollins, Hamels, Utley, and Revere (in whatever order you want (though with Revere last of course)).  Proving that there is justice in the world, those four, along with Diekman, are in the playoffs this year.  If it's not going to be the Phillies playing meaningful October baseball, then it might as well be our beloved ex-Phillies.

And, further proving the point, of these seven, the only one who did not have a strong year and/or make the playoffs was Papelbon.  Thank you Baseba'al - sometimes you really do come through.