The All Star Game is over. Odubel Herrera got his one at-bat (a flyout). He caught a ball in the outfield. There were no bat flips. If you blinked, you missed it.
And now, with the Midsummer Classic out of the way, baseball collectively turns its attention to the non-waiver trade deadline.
I’ve previous written that it wouldn’t surprise me if the Phillies weren’t active at this year’s trade deadline, and they certainly won’t be as active as they were last year. But they do have some players that could be useful to a contender, a few of whose stock has risen in the last few weeks.
Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson is having a fine year, relievers Hector Neris, Jeanmar Gomez, Andrew Bailey and David Hernandez have been productive, outfielders Cody Asche and Peter Bourjos are both hot, and infielders Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and/or Andres Blanco could be useful as well. And there is also slugging catcher Cameron Rupp.
Not all of them will be moved, and the reason may be that, in some cases, the market may not bring the Phillies the kind of return they’re looking for.
So where do Phils’ players stand in relation to the rest of the market?
Potentially leading the way is Oakland’s Sonny Gray, who would be the prize pig at the fair if general manager Billy Beane decides to unload the former All Star. He’s only 26 and doesn’t become arbitration eligible until after next season. He's also under team control until after the 2020 season.
From 2013-2015, Gray went 33-20 with a 2.88 ERA in 74 starts, striking out 7.7 batters per nine innings. But he’s struggled this year, with a 5.16 ERA in 16 starts. His K-rate is the same as last season, but his walk rate, homer rate and hit rate are all up. Beane would be selling low, but should still get a lot for him.
Oakland also has Rich Hill, who may be the most attainable higher-end starter on the market. The 36-year-old has been a true journeyman for most of his career, but over the last season and a half with Boston and Oakland he’s gone 11-4 in 17 starts with a 2.06 ERA and 2.49 FIP, striking out 10.8 batters per nine and walking 2.8. Oakland would be wise to unload him now.
San Diego's Drew Pomeranz is 27, can't become a free agent until after 2019, and is having an oustanding season with the Padres. He's 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts, with a career high 10.1 K/9. A ton of teams will be interested in him. He's all but certain to get dealt.
Atlanta’s Julio Teheran is just 25 and is having an outstanding season for the rebuilding Atlanta Braves. He made the All Star team this year thanks to a 2.96 ERA in 18 starts, with an 8.1 K/9 and a 1.9 BB/9. He’s signed through 2019 with a team option for 2020, and will make just $6.3 million in 2017, $8 million in ‘18, and $11 million in 2019, with a $12 million team option in 2020, when he will be 29. The Braves could get a haul for him.
This is about where Hellickson would slide into the pecking order. He has a 3.92 ERA in 18 starts this season, with a K/9 of 7.9 and a BB/9 of 2.3. He’s always given up a lot of homers, and this year is no different, 16 so far. So he probably wouldn’t fit in a park that is friendly to homer hitters. But he is having his best season since his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2011.
Tampa’s Jake Odorizzi could also be available, with a 4.47 ERA in 19 starts, striking out 8.4 K/9 and walking 2.9/9, as well as his teammate Matt Moore. Chicago’s James Shields (who was already traded from San Diego to the White Sox earlier this year), San Diego’s Andrew Cashner and Minnesota’s Ervin Santana are also potential starters that could be moved.
Luckily for the Phillies, this is not a strong trade market for starting pitchers. They should be able to get back something decent for Hellickson.
There are a lot of teams looking for bullpen help. Unfortunately for the Phillies, there are also a lot of high-end options for contending teams to consider ahead of Gomez, Bailey or Hernandez. However, if the Phils decide to make the 27-year-old Neris available, he could be among the better options for contenders.
Obviously, the marquee names here are Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller of the Yankees. It’s likely whoever acquires these relievers will have to give up at least one premium prospect. They are in a class by themselves.
Atlanta’s Arodys Vizcaino is an interesting case. He’s only 25 and under team control through 2020, and he’s been outstanding for Atlanta this year. In 38 games he has a 2.74 ERA and is striking out 11.8 batters per nine. He has 10 saves, but is also walking 5.3 batters per nine innings. Still, if the Braves move him, it will be because they can get a Ken Giles-like deal in return.
Milwaukee’s Will Smith didn’t start his season until the beginning of June, but since returning from the DL has been lights out for the Brewers, with a 2.12 ERA. His K/9 (7.9) is down from the previous three years (11.6, 11.8, 12.9), but the results are still there.
This is where Neris could fit in. He’s only 27 and is having a terrific season, leading the NL in appearances, with 46, toting a 2.87 ERA along the way, with 10.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. His splitter is one of the more unhittable pitches in baseball, and he’s got youth on his side. He could certainly work as a set-up guy for someone, and has closer’s stuff. The Phils might not move him if they think they can be competitive next year, but if the timeline truly is 2018, he would generate the best return of anyone else in the Phils’ pen.
Colorado’s Jake McGee came over to the Rockies in the off-season from the Rays in the Corey Dickerson deal, a head scratcher of a move for Colorado. The Rockies traded a decent young outfielder for something a rebuilding team had no use for, a closer. Now, the 30-year-old is likely on the move again. He missed a few weeks but is back pitching, although he has struggled pitching at Coors Field, with a 6.12 ERA and a strikeout rate that has fallen from 11.6 K/9 last year to 6.8 K/9 this year.
Jeanmar Gomez has been racking up the saves this year (24) and has an excellent ERA (2.59), but doesn’t strike many guys out (5.6 K/9), and teams have a hard time trusting his results as a closer will continue. But he’d make for a decent set-up man for someone, along the lines of Minnesota’s Fernando Abad, Milwaukee’s Jeremy Jeffress, Minnesota’s Kevin Jepsen, Anaheim’s Huston Street and Joe Smith, and Arizona’s Daniel Hudson and Tyler Clippard.
David Hernandez and Andrew Bailey would fall into the tier below everyone listed above. Like I said, a flooded market.
The Phillies will have a decision to make when it’s time to call up J.P. Crawford to play shortstop. Do they move Freddy Galvis to second base full time and put Cesar Hernandez on the bench, even though Cesar can really only play second base? Or do they put Cesar at second full-time and make Galvis a super utility player? And if they do that, what happens to Andres Blanco, whose veteran presence in the clubhouse has been mentioned by more than a few as important to the team’s success?
It’s likely the Phils will listen to offers on all three of their infielders. And with a dearth of infielders available, they could get a couple bites.
Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart is the best one on the market. The shortstop is under team control through 2018 and is hitting .267/.316/.482 with a .799 OPS, with 14 homers and 22 doubles at a position where offense is not really sought after. He’s also an excellent defender.
Minnesota’s lone All Star representative, Eduardo Nunez, can play all over the infield, much like Galvis. But he's been far more productive at the plate. The 29-year-old is batting .321/.347/.489 for an .836 OPS, with 12 homers and 15 doubles in 336 PAs. The Sporting News’ Jesse Spector called Nunez a "poor man’s Ben Zobrist" on the most recent Felske Files podcast, and he would certainly cost a team more than Galvis would.
Oakland’s Jed Lowrie can also play second, third and short, but is more expensive than the average bear (owed $7.5 million this year and $6.5 million in 2017). He’s batting .283/.336/.349 for an underwhelming .685 OPS. I’d take Galvis over him.
The Angels’ Yunel Escobar should be on the market, with a .317/.365/.413 slash line and .778 OPS at third base with 21 doubles and 3 homers. However, the 33-year-old is no longer able to play shortstop or second base, limiting his value.
Atlanta will make Gordon Beckham available. The second and third baseman is a free agent after 2017 and has had a very good season, although he did miss more than a month on the disabled list. In 124 PAs, Beckham is batting .290/.387/.458 for an .845 OPS with 3 homers and 7 doubles.
Cesar Hernandez is limited to second base and is almost entirely batting average dependent. Blanco really thrives in a utility role, able to play multiple positions while providing good offensive production. But the Phils might be reluctant to move him because of that clubhouse influence.
Peter Bourjos is on fire and Cody Asche has had a very nice start to his 2016 season, but none of them are in the league of Jay Bruce, Josh Reddick, Carlos Gonzalez, Melvin Upton, Ryan Braun, or Charlie Blackmon.
But Bourjos’ hot last month has put him in the next tier of outfielders. His offense may not continue at quite this level, but his defense and base running ability is something that could greatly benefit a contender, especially as a fourth outfielder. Amazingly, the Phils might actually get a reasonable prospect in return for Bourjos.
He’ll be battling it out with Oakland’s Khris Davis and Coco Crisp, among others. Davis is a pure power hitter/low on-base guy, with 19 homers this year, a .248 batting average and .284 on-base percentage. Crisp is not as athletic or gifted defensively as Bourjos, and his .244/.305/.411 slash line is not as good as Peter’s .274/.312/.422 slash.
Atlanta acquired Ender Inciarte over the winter in the Shelby Miller deal, and could make him available, although I think they’ll hold onto him. They will definitely put Nick Markakis on the block, although his numbers (.253/.328/.363) are worse than Bourjos’ as well.
Hey, remember when some of us were openly wondering if trading a big-time starter for Matt Kemp was a good idea? Yeah, not anymore. Kemp will certainly be free for the taking, but some team is going to have to swallow that .275 on-base percentage and the $21.75 million he’s owed in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Per season.
It’s shocking how much value Bourjos has generated for the Phillies in just one month.
What Cameron Rupp has done this year for the Phillies is simply astonishing. Among MLB catchers with at least 200 plate appearances, Rupp is 2nd in slugging percentage (.507), second in isolated power (.220), tied for third in wOBA (.355) and fourth in OPS (.836) and wRC+ (120).
Suddenly, people are asking whether he’s a part of the Phils’ long-term future. But with Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro both on the farm in the high minors, it’s possible the Phillies could move Rupp this month if they get a good offer.
Right now, the only catcher on the market better than Rupp is Milwaukee’s excellent All-Star Jonathan Lucroy, who has a slash line of .304/.361/.491 with an .853 OPS, 11 homers and 16 doubles. He is also under team control next year, with a team option of just $5.25 million. He’s cheap and awesome. The Brewers should get a king’s ransom.
San Diego could move their catcher, Derek Norris, who is batting .212/.274/.404 with 12 dingers and 13 doubles, but don’t seem terribly inclined to do so. His numbers are not as good as Rupp’s, either.
The Phillies have some decent trade chips once again this year. They have a pretty valuable one in a weak market (Hellickson), four arms in a strong market (relievers), three infielders they’re unsure of, and a catcher who is having a shockingly good offensive season.
I think the Phillies will make some moves. They just may not be all that impactful.