When the team sent Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers two seasons ago, most of the focus was on the names of Williams, Alfaro, and Thompson as the spoils of the bounty coming northward to Philadelphia. Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher were seen as merely throw-ins to sweeten the deal for the Phillies, with Matt Harrison balancing the ledgers. When he made his debut for the team, Eickhoff impressed, yet he was still seen as a “meh” guy who, at best, would make some starts at the end of the rotation.
Fast forward to his 2017 debut and it’s fair to wonder whether Eickhoff is now the most desirable Phillie to trade for on the team’s roster. He’s putting up the kinds of numbers that teams would kill to have on their team. Look at this comparison of pitchers last year:
Player A vs. Player B
Just looking at those numbers, they are quite similar. While Player A might be a tad more effective, Player B is not far behind. Player A is Jose Quintana, Player B is Eickhoff. Now, think back to the rumors surrounding Quintana this offseason. The Astros have been hot on his tail and reportedly offered up 3 of their top prospects, including their best pitching prospect, in order to get him. What would Eickhoff fetch? (....and if you’re wondering, Eickhoff has an extra year of team control....)
Think about preseason predictions on multiple contenders. Many of them have considerable question marks in their rotations. Teams like the Yankees, Orioles and Red Sox, just to name one division, would all do well to have someone like Eickhoff in their starting five, not only as a durable, dependable starter, but one under team control until 2021. It makes him that much more desirable.
Now, one can argue that with Odubel Herrera’s contract extension, he would be the most desirable player currently on the team, and it is a good argument. After all, he has produced back to back 3+ WAR seasons with all indications he will follow that up with an encore of similar stature this season. Factor in that he is locked into a highly valuable contract for the foreseeable future and that makes for another valuable commodity on the trade market. In this age of teams placing an especially high value on assets that have cost control, someone like Herrera adds another layer of value to his game.
Yet when we look at how today’s game goes, Eickhoff is probably worth more to other teams than Herrera because he is a pitcher. With the scarcity of young healthy arms that are able to be set, like fellow TGP writer John Stolnis puts it, like a metronome like Eickhoff seems to be, he becomes someone any team would want toeing the rubber for them every fifth day.
So, in my mind, he is now the most valuable player the team has on their roster that they could (theoretically) trade for a decent bounty. Were the team to sign him to an extension that locked up his arbitration years into a cost controlled environment, and watch teams fall all over themselves looking to acquire him. It would require a massive amount to get him, but were the team to market him, they could choose any number of packages.
Now, in no way, shape or form am I advocating trading the young workhorse. As a team that has ended its “collecting assets” phase of the rebuild and entered the “see what we have” phase, trading someone like Eickhoff would be foolhardy at best. It’s just amazing to me how far he has come in a relatively short amount of time - from afterthought in a blockbuster to a potential headliner in commenting sections across the interwebs.