It’s happened: the Phillies finally have a rotation full of young pitchers that are good enough for other teams to want them. Once upon a time, the Phillies had to acquire older players like Aaron Harang, AJ Burnett, and Roberto Hernandez to fill out the roster just so they’d have an actual person pitching every fifth day instead of a tall sign on the mound that said “IMAGINE PITCHER HERE.” The Phillies would sign them, hoping they’d at least be serviceable enough to not actively harm the team. And there was always an off-chance that they’d be good enough to flip at the deadline.
But now the Phillies have pitchers with a future in their rotation, instead of pitchers with a past. And they’re good enough for the Phillies to consider keeping all of them. Of course, that means that other teams will be interested in them, too. And a surprising team popped up in trade rumors a few days ago.
There’s no reason the Rangers shouldn’t be interested in Velasquez. Despite his right biceps strain and subsequent DL stint, he’s been great for the Phils this year. 17 starts, 3.34 ERA, and 103 strikeouts. Not to mention that he’s shown flashes of true brilliance (God, that April 14 complete game shutout was phenomenal). Plus, he’s 24 and he’s under team control for five more years. With the Phillies starting to awaken from their suck slumber, the cost for a player like Velasquez is going to be high. With that in mind, let’s go back in time a little. A year ago, as you might remember, the Phillies traded Cole Hamels (::sob::) and Jake Diekman to the Rangers for a huge haul. They sent six players to the Phillies, four of whom factor into the team’s future plans as rulers of the NL East. It was a high price to pay for Hamels, but given that he’s having an outstanding season, it worked out for both teams.
The Rangers need a starting pitcher, and if Velasquez is who they want, then more power to them. But I have no idea why they’d pay a steep cost for Velasquez, who shows a lot of promise but is far from a sure thing. Hell, he hasn’t even been a sure thing this year. And that’s the key. The Phillies aren’t thinking about this year. They might not even be thinking about next year. They’re focused on beyond that, when they think they’ll have a solid chance to contend. The Rangers might be thinking of next year and the year after, but I know that they’re primarily thinking about right now, and tomorrow, and next month. They want to pad their lead in the AL West and stop Houston and Seattle from nipping at their heels. Velasquez could help them with that, but it’s not a definite. And at the price I’m sure the Phillies are asking for, I don’t know how that could be worth it for them.
But hey, if the Rangers want to drop another bucketload of good players onto our doorstep, I’m certainly not going to stop them.
No rumors have popped up about Jerad Eickhoff and Zac Eflin, but it’s not because they’re bad. They’ve both pitched like champs thus far. I’m guessing that no one has asked about them because they’re simply not available to trade. They’re young, team controlled, and rapidly maturing. You don’t trade players like that — they’re the point of the rebuild. They’re one of the goals!
There have been plenty of rumors about Jeremy Hellickson, who has been scouted by the Rangers, Orioles, and Marlins. He’s been brilliant in his last two starts, pitching a total of 14 innings and allowing just six hits and one run. When a player is essentially auditioning for other teams, you can’t really ask for more. But the Phillies haven’t actually traded him yet. He’s still on the team. The deadline is August 1, but I thought after his start on July 20 the Phillies would trade him immediately. Hellickson himself doesn’t want to be traded, and I can’t help but wonder if the Phillies are getting cold feet. He’s in Philly on a one year deal, and so the only reason to keep him is if they’re going to re-sign him. In theory, that’s perfectly reasonable. But if we get to the end of the season and he doesn’t re-up with the Phillies, then it’s all just a waste. Hellickson’s arm will have no impact in Philly, and they missed out on getting a few players who could have surprised them.
Man, it’s nice to have a trade season where the main goal isn’t “Maybe some team will take this crap off our hands.”