Last year’s MLB trade season was dizzying for the Phillies. After all, there were some big doings afoot, what with Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon and Ben Revere all sent packing. Chase Utley followed suit in August.
We said goodbye to some old friends. And Papelbon. We shed a couple tears, had a few laughs, and looked with giddy excitement at the slew of highly regarded prospects that helped infuse the farm system with real, projectable, Major League talent.
It was an exciting, if sometimes depressing, time. The Phillies closed the book on one era and began the transition to another, getting better in the process.
Things will not be as exciting this year. And the way the market is shaping up, don’t be surprised if the Phils don’t sell anything this summer.
There is no Hamels, Papelbon, Revere or Utley to sell at this year’s deadline. Instead, the top pieces are starter Jeremy Hellickson, utility infielders Andres Blanco and Freddy Galvis, outfielders Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche, and relief pitchers Jeanmar Gomez, David Hernandez, Andrew Bailey (if he comes off the DL soon enough) and potentially Hector Neris.
Folks, there’s not a lot there that’s going to entice a contender to pony up anything of note.
On Thursday, the Dodgers traded for Bud Norris, an unspectacular starter for the Braves. In exchange, Atlanta received minor league pitchers Philip Pfeifer and Caleb Dirks, neither of whom were among MLB.com’s Top 30 prospects for Los Angeles. They are considered to be nothing more than organizational depth.
And while organizational depth is fine, it may not be enough to get the Phillies to deal.
Compare Norris’ numbers this year to Hellickson’s, and you’ll see why this is the kind of package the Phillies should expect back in any deal for their 29-year-old right-hander.
So Hellickson, who everyone agrees is probably the Phils’ best trade chip at this point, is likely only going to net them a couple of young arms who don’t have much of a future.
If that’s the case, is he even worth dealing?
Why not keep Hellickson and have him mentor the young starters already on the big league staff? By the time mid-to-late August rolls around, the Phils will have likely shut down Vince Velasquez, which would open up a spot for Jake Thompson. Zach Eflin’s innings could be monitored as well, and having a veteran like Hellickson around may be worth more than the middling prospects the Phils would receive for him.
The same could be said for the rest of the Phillies on the potential trade block. Gomez may tied for 5th in the NL in saves (21, with a 2.89 ERA), but no one else will see him as a closer. Don’t expect a Nick Pivetta back for him. Hernandez and/or Bailey would return even less.
Neris has better stuff and is younger. He could be a potential closer one day. But at 27, isn’t he the type of player the Phillies would be looking to acquire this summer?
Even if Bourjos and Asche continue to rake, it’s unlikely they bring back the type of arms the Phillies got for Revere last year from Toronto. And as good as Blanco has been, would he bring the Phils a Darnell Sweeney-type prospect, the return the Phils got for Utley? And even if he did, would it be better for the Phillies to keep his valuable presence in the locker room to mentor the younger players?
These are questions the front office is going to have to ask themselves, and they may decide it’s best to do nothing.
Either way, whether they sell or stand pat, there aren’t going to be any big fireworks at this summer’s trade deadline for the Phillies. They got that out of their system last year.