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Let’s hope these are the players traded out of the NL East

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Rumors are flying at the Winter Meetings, and hope remains that the Phillies could lose a few of their more potent divisional foes.

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the Winter Meetings upon us, we’re about to see a lot of players switch teams. Already in Las Vegas, whispers from the air vents have informed us that several top Phillies foes could be, might be, or definitely aren’t on the move out of the division.

For instance, Noah Syndergaard. Jarbled dispatches from Las Vegas inform us that the Mets stud could be headed to the Yankees, I think, in some kind of three-way deal with the Marlins that lands the Mets J.T. Realmuto? It doesn’t matter what’s on the white board Brodie Van Wagenen is wheeling into the Mets’ war room right now on 90 minutes of brief, but deeply efficient, sleep. What matters is, imagine the Phillies not having to face Syndergaard as often during the regular season!

What I was surprised to learn is that such a move would actually be bad news for the Phillies.

But in many cases, there are a few people who the Phillies should be grateful to see a little less of—so long, Jay Bruce. Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman are traditionally monstrous against the Phillies, but that goes for them against just about everybody. Besides, Freeman’s not a part of any rumored deals, and Harper, if he remains in the NL East, will presumably be joining the one team that can’t beat the Phillies.

So here’s some players who, if ever traded, would be a blessing to the Phillies:

Mike Foltynewicz

  • 1.59 ERA at Citizens Bank Park in 2018
  • 2.04 ERA vs. Phillies in 2018

Folty isn’t actually going anywhere, but as I mentioned in the recap of day one of the Winter Meetings last night, for part of one glorious hour, it was possible that he could be moved out of the division at some point soon.

But no.

Days like September 28, when the Phillies were fully checked out, get to be relived again and again. Foltynewicz struck out seven hitters in the first three innings that day, logging his 200th strikeout of the season (he finished sixth in the NL with 202, 22 K’s behind Nola). And, with this being the 27-year-old’s breakout season, there may just be more where that came from.

Anthony Rendon

  • .311/.400/.508 vs. Phillies in 2017
  • .348/.439/.725 vs. Phillies in 2018
  • 3-for-7, 2 HR vs. Nick Pivetta in 2018

Rendon is currently exchanging numbers with the Nationals in regards to a longer term deal, which is tragic news for Phillies fans. If current trends continue, according to my napkin calculations, Rendon will be slashing .385/.478/.942 against the Phillies in 2019, and there is no reason not to consider those numbers rock solid. From there, it’s time to worry about him generating enough offense to crack the planet in half. Science.

More Rendon at this level can only be bad for Phillies pitchers. Having the defending league leader in doubles (44) in your division means he’s going to tag you for eight of them, as he did last year, and being a Gold Glove finalist this season means there’s not a downside to his production when he’s playing the field, there’s just more of it. At least the Phillies are not the Reds, against whom Rendon really unloads, hitting .500 against them in seven games last year with 4 HR and 9 BB. Maybe he’s just good against everybody.

Jeff McNeil

  • .442 BA, 1.106 OPS, 9 R in 43 AB vs. Phillies in 2018

There was a moment in which McNeil, the Mets’ second baseman, was listed as a part of the trade with the Mariners that brought Robinson Cano to New York. Seeing him subtracted from the deal was a crushing blow to anyone who doesn’t like watching the Phillies get decimated by someone you’ve never heard of.

We certainly know his name now, after a season in which he had a hit in eight straight ABs at one point, and punched down on the Phillies to win the Little League Classic. McNeil didn’t get a hit every time he faced a Phillies pitcher in 2018, but there was no one who seemed particularly adept at stopping him: Not Aaron Nola, not Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin or Vince Velasquez. Seranthony Dominguez had a little luck, but he only had to face him twice. One small bit of hope is that the Phillies will no longer deploy Luis Garcia to face McNeil, having done so twice last season and watched the result be a triple and a home run. So those days are over, Jeff. Get ready to suffer. I know you’re reading this.

Let it be a lesson to all of us: Phillies killers may depart, but new ones will always rise up in their place.

Yoenis Cespedes

  • 3-for-6, 2 HR vs. Aaron Nola in 2018
  • .304 BA, 1.061 OPS vs. Phillies in 2017

Brodie Van Wagenen, my personal favorite new addition to the NL East cast this season, said yesterday that Cespedes was “the ultimate trade chip,” something that read very much like he was setting up a deal for the slugging outfielder eight months before the 2019 trade deadline. Of course, what he actually meant was that Cespedes has been the ultimate trade chip in coming to the Mets, which is the opposite of good news for anyone who’d already imagined the fearsome hitter, who hit .385 with 5 HR in Citizens Bank Park in 2017, flying to another part of the country to inflict damage upon the innocent teams of that region.

In 2018, his numbers against the Phillies came down quite a bit due to a lack of exposure to them. But look, the Phillies had only so many good players in 2018, and really, it came down to just the one in Nola. If you could beat Nola, you could beat the Phillies, no problem. And Cespedes, even with limited ABs against the Phillies, showed he could beat Nola. Look at him, beating him in those statistics up there. Terrible. I say trading Cespedes to a far off coast is at least something to think about, Brodie. Grab a pressed juice and mull it over. Big fan, by the way.

Martin Prado

  • .296 BA, .800 OPS, 17 HR lifetime vs. Phillies
  • 4-for-9 vs. Aaron Nola in 2018

Over his 13-year career in MLB, Prado has played almost a full season of baseball against the Phillies, 143 games. In that time, he has slashed .296/.340/.460 with 17 HR. And Prado doesn’t even hit home runs. He’s been playing for almost a decade and a half and has yet to hit 100 total home runs for his career. Seventeen is easily the most he’s hit against any one opponent, with the next team being the Nationals, against whom he’s hit 11.

Last year, we were spared a full-on Prado onslaught, and he managed only a dinky little .172 BA against the Phillies in 29 games. But he still put up Cespedes-ian numbers against Nola, which no one wants to see. Prado is not a hot name during the Winter Meetings, but he does seem to make it into a lot of fan-generated versions of that as-yet hypothetical Yankees-Mets-Marlins deal in which Syndergaard is supposedly involved. At this point, we can only hope his most fervent Phillies-smashing is behind him, but he always seems to find a way to slip a dagger in.

Ender Inciarte

  • .360 BA, .842 OPS vs. Phillies in 2018
  • 3-for-4, 1 BB, 1 SB, 2 R vs. Jake Arrieta

Inciarte was the other name mentioned in the Foltynewicz tweet that got me all jazzed up, and a brief musing over his anti-Phillies numbers in recent times are equally demoralizing, especially for a guy who at one point could have been another Phillies Rule 5 success story. Obviously, with Ronald Acuna around, you can start to look at even your effective players and see them as trade fodder. Inciarte tailed off in 2018 after his best season yet the year before. He did lead the league in CS with 14—two of which came courtesy of Jorge Alfaro’s howitzer, and one from Andrew Knapp as well—but also won a Gold Glove, so he’s always just out there, finding... finding ways to be helpful.

How about this one. Remember this one? When he had eight hits in one day against the Phillies?

Yeah. You can go ahead and trade him now. Then all the Phillies have to worry about is **runs finger down roster** every other Braves player.