With the team slumping (again), most fans have begun turning to the future. And that future means trade season!
Everyone’s favorite part of the season when they follow a rebuilding team is when they are able to dream about possible deals that could be made to help with the rebuild. Since many of us play a fantasy sport of some variety, we are all well versed in the art of the deal. We know the haggling that is required in order to consummate that perfect deal that gives the team more pieces to dream on.
The only problem is knowing what the Phillies’ trade chips are actually worth. John Stolnis has tried to gauge the value of a few of the team’s options, looking at Tommy Joseph and Jeremy Hellickson on seperate occasions. MLB Trade Rumors has begun a series where they have taken stock of the roster’s trade pieces and what kind of control they have contract-wise. What I’d like to do here is first try and take a brief look at whose trade value has risen and fallen on the team, then ask for a bit of audience participation. So, let’s start with who’s on the team now.
Trade Value Sky High - Pat Neshek
Right now, there is no Phillie with more value to another team than Pat Neshek. His numbers (0.75 ERA/2.32 FIP, 25.3 K%, 4.6 BB%) have been outstanding. He also comes with the vaunted “experienced veteran” label, or the even more desirable “playoff tested” label. He’s “been there before” and “knows how to pitch” when the situation is dire. He’s exactly the kind of guy that a manager would like to call upon with one out in the eighth inning of a close game in late September. With relievers always being in high demand, there is little doubt that Neshek will be the one Phillies player who might be able to command a top quality prospect in return.
Trade Value Rising - Howie Kendrick, Hector Neris
Kendrick has been great since returning from the disabled list. Of course, he was also doing quite well before getting hurt, hitting .333 before his oblique acted up. Since then, he’s hitting .350 (44 plate appearances) and has even decided to show off some speed to boot, stealing three bases against Boston on Monday. Cesar Hernandez’s injury allows him to show if he’s still got the defensive chops for second base, which can only help his value to other teams as he’d be able to competently man multiple positions on the field. In short, while there have been some small sample sizes, he’s been good when on the field.
Neris falls into that bin of effective relievers that can help a contender. He hasn’t been as good as he was last year, but he’s shown that when used properly, he can still be a quality reliever. The question with him is whether or not he’s available. He’s still got a lot of team control left (not a free agent until 2022) at what should be fairly cheap arbitration years. Having good relievers is starting to become more important to roster construction, especially those with playoff aspirations, so the team would probably like to keep him. Yet like Ken Giles from a few years ago, you have to wonder whether his value is at an all-time high right now and whether the team should strike before regression kicks in.
Trade Value Falling - Michael Saunders, Jeremy Hellickson
There is no other way to state it: Saunders has been terrible. Signed to provide inexpensive offense on a short term contract, he has flopped horrible, hitting .203/.250/.359 with only six home runs and 19 runs batted in. He’s begun losing playing time in the rotation of outfielders and if he continues his slump, he might even lose his job altogether. However, since he also comes with that “veteran presence” label that is stuck on Neshek, there is the outside chance that with a good few weeks of hitting, some team might be interested in him as a bench option going forward.
Hellickson’s value continues to plummet. His April was great (5 GS, 1.80 ERA, .515 OPS), but in May and June, he has struggled (8 GS, 6.43 ERA, .970 OPS). His inability this year to generate enough strikeouts is beginning to catch up to him, as he relies on balls hit to find gloves. As you can see from his splits, the balls hit are finding gaps and seats instead. Still, teams always need pitching. He’s miscast on the Phillies as a player expected to match up against another team’s #1 or 2 pitcher, but on a contender, where he can be a #4 or 5, he could be much more effective.
The Wild Card - Odubel Herrera
I have no desire for the Phillies to trade Odubel Herrera. Were he to change teams, it would leave a void that would have to be covered by prospects that have not proven themselves at the big league level. He’s under contract at a reasonable rate for the next six seasons. He’s been a 4 WAR player the past two season and even with his slump this year, looks primed to at least approach that same mark this season. He’s still got prime seasons ahead of him. In other words, he is the type of player managers should be penciling into their lineup with regularity.
But what if a team unexpectedly puts a top flight pitcher on the market? What if, say, the Pittsburgh Pirates decide to put Gerrit Cole on the trade block? Granted, they are a poor example because of how their roster is made up and who they have in the minors, but you get the idea. If a young, controllable ace-level pitcher were to suddenly be made available, wouldn’t the Phillies have to discuss Herrera with them, for all of the reasons discussed above? All of the things that make him valuable to the Phillies would make him valuable on the trade market as well.
Now, here is where I need help from you, the reader.
In the comments section, make your best trade proposal for the Phillies. Who would you trade on the team, and what do you think should be the return? For example, if the Phillies were to trade Pat Neshek to a contender, I’d expect at least a prospect in the #10-15 range. If it were the Nationals that were acquiring him, a team whose bullpen is somewhere between hot garbage and dumpster fire, the price would be a little steeper because of the interdivisional aspect, so a #7-10 prospect. Would you want one really good prospect, a la the Beltran for Wheeler deal, or a bigger package of lesser prospects? Put your best proposal in the comments and then back it up. You aren’t beholden to the names here either. You can include any player in the organization. When you propose a deal, be specific. Don’t say, “I’ll trade Cameron Rupp for a top 30 prospect”. Which prospect are you talking about? We need a name.
Be ready for praise for creating such a good deal, but also be prepared for criticism if you are making a lopsided deal that isn’t realistic. Keep the comments polite. Have fun! Show why you are better than Matt Klentak!
And please: DO NOT MAKE ANY MIKE TROUT TRADE PROPOSALS. It’s not happening, not now, not ever, so don’t waste your time.