On Episode 202 of “Hittin’ Season,” host John Stolnis is joined by Paul Boye to talk about the completely insane 2018 MLB Trade Deadline. The Phillies were busy, adding catcher Wilson Ramos and reliever Aaron Roup. Was it enough? Did GM Matt Klentak push the right buttons? And what about waiver deadline moves that could be made in July? Also, John and Paul take a look at what some of the other key NL teams did at the deadline, and recap the quick two-game series the Phils wrapped up in Boston against the Red Sox. (story below)
The July 31 Trade Deadline has come and gone and most people agree that general manager Matt Klentak and the rest of the front office did a solid job filling the team’s needs at some key positions — doing so without giving up any of their top prospects in the process.
They added infielder Asdrubal Cabrera last week to bring in a better bat to the shortstop position. They traded for Wilson Ramos who, when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list sometime in the next few weeks, will be an immediate upgrade offensively over Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp. And they added lefty reliever Aaron Loup, the man who has allowed just 30 extra-base hits (5 home runs) to the 565 left-handed batters he’s faced in his career.
To do this, they gave up Franklin Kilome, a AAA reliever, and some cash or a player to be named later in exchange for two .800 OPS guys and a LOOGY. These moves absolutely make the team’s offense stronger, and gives them another weapon to utilize against the Freddie Freemans and Bryce Harpers of the world in September.
However, there are still a couple areas in which the team could buttress if things go a little bit south this month — namely in the starting rotation, the bullpen and the bench.
Which brings us to the August waiver trade deadline. This month, players must clear waivers (meaning a player has to be put on waivers and all the other 29 teams have a chance to put in a claim on that player, essentially freezing the trade market for said player) in order to be dealt, which limits the high-end possibilities.
Chris Archer and Kevin Gausman would not have cleared waivers this month. Teams would have put in a waiver claim and, at that point, would either be given away to the claiming team, a trade would be worked out with that team specifically, or the team that holds the contract would pull the player off waivers and keep him.
Lest you think August trades don’t matter, remember that Justin Verlander was dealt to the Astros in August of last year, and that the Phils have added key pieces like Jamie Moyer in 2006, and Scott Eyre and Matt Stairs in 2008.
There are a number of players who one would expect to clear waivers this month, and some of them could potentially help the Phils.
It’s been a dark three years since Zimmermann signed as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers before the 2016 season. Last year he was among the worst starters in baseball, with a 6.08 ERA in 29 starts, allowing a league-high 108 earned runs, with a K/BB ratio of 103/44 in 160 innings.
This year, Zimmermann has bounced back somewhat, although he’s still nowhere near the pitcher he was in Washington. In 14 starts he has a 4.44 ERA and a FIP of 4.02, with a K/BB ratio of 67/13 in 71 innings. He’s under contract for another two seasons at $25 million per season, meaning he’ll sail through waivers with no problems.
After posting a 3.28 ERA in 33 starts for the Minnesota Twins last year, albeit with a 4.46 FIP, Santana started the year on the disabled list and has only recently returned. In two starts he’s allowed 7 earned runs in 10 1⁄3 innings, so it’s still too small a sample size to make any firm judgments.
He is a free agent at the end of the season, although his controlling club holds a $14 million option for 2019. If Santana improves during his next couple starts, teams may call Minnesota about Santana, who finished 7th in the AL Cy Young voting last year.
Samardzija has spent most of the season on the DL with shoulder inflammation, so he would be a serious injury risk. Also, when he’s been out there this year, the results have been terrible. He has a 6.25 ERA in 10 starts this season, mostly due to his bad shoulder. Recent reports indicate no timetable for his return.
If Samardzija does come back this month and pitches well, it’s possible the Giants would look to move the right-hander, who still has two more years on his contract at $19.8 million a season. This is a pitcher the Phils would likely stay away from.
Gonzalez has been decent for Washington this year, with a 3.78 ERA, and would give the Phillies a southpaw in the rotation. But he can be maddeningly inconsistent, too, walking 4.5 batters per nine. He’s a free agent after the season, so if the Nationals fall out of the race, they could look to move Gio for a low-level prospect or two.
Since being traded to the Reds earlier this year, Harvey has been half-decent. In 14 starts with Cincinnati, Harvey has put up an ERA of 4.44, with a K/BB ratio of 56/17. He has given up 12 home runs, though, and has been a below replacement level arm, even with the Reds. He looked pretty good against the Phillies last week, and it’s all but a certainty that the free agent-to-be is going to be moved somewhere this month.
The Phillies were rumored to be interested in McCutchen, but in the end, the Giants decided to stand pat and make a run at a wild card. McCutchen would have been a complementary piece to the ascending Nick Williams, but could have been a very useful bench bat and sub for Williams against tough left-handers.
Cutch has a .766 OPS in 459 plate appearances for San Francisco this season, with just 11 homers but 22 doubles. He’s a free agent after the season, so it’s possible some teams would put in a claim for him, but not likely.
Bautista was another bench bat linked to the Phils. He’s playing mostly third base for the Mets right now and is batting .213/.355/.401 for New York and Atlanta (with whom he played a handful of games earlier in the season), with 13 home runs. He would play the outfield sparingly and mostly provide a right-handed bat off the bench as well.
The Blue Jays had Granderson on the trade market last month but didn’t pull the trigger. He has an OPS of .755 this season, with 10 bombs in 302 PAs, and would seem to be a bit redundant with Williams also being a left-handed hitter. However, Granderson would provide some veteran presence and postseason experience, and would be a dangerous left-handed bat off the bench.
Unless Maikel Franco goes in the tank over the next few weeks (which doesn’t seem likely), Adrian Beltre will not be on the Phils’ radar. The future Hall of Famer has an OPS of .735, far lower than last year’s .915. This was an intriguing option when Franco was struggling, but now, it doesn’t seem as though there would be a need to add the highly entertaining Beltre to the roster.
Same goes for Donaldson, who has had a disappointing final season in Toronto. The perennial MVP candidate has played in just 36 games for the Blue Jays with an OPS of .757, far below his career .873 mark. The 32-year-old third baseman has lost most of his power as he battles a calf problem, with just 5 dingers after hitting 41, 37 and 35 the last three years.
He’s expected to return this month, and if he goes on a hot streak, it’s likely he’ll be dealt. But probably not to the Phillies.
There are a slew of relief pitchers who could become available this month. If the Nationals fade, many of their guys, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson, could go. Will Smith of San Francisco is a left-hander the Phils would probably have interest in, only if Aaron Loup doesn’t work out.