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Going shopping: Phillies way-too-early deadline targets

Not looking to spend money on a Kimbrel or Keuchel? These 5 premature deadline targets could satisfy your every need...

Photo via Eric Risberg / Associated Press

It’s no secret that Phillie fans have been, in a word, disappointed, by the performance of the team’s pitching thus far in the season (sans the likes of Jake Arrieta.) With the pinnacle of their rotation in Aaron Nola off to a slow start, the fan base is clamoring for a solution — and, while we likely won’t see any real transactions for many months to come, there’s always room for speculation.

Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants

I’m pretty sure we all saw this one coming, seeing as a rumor has already circulated that the Phillies are doing their ‘due-diligence,’ and have inquired about Bumgarner.

The 29 year-old lefty is set to hit Free Agency next year, making him a prominent ‘trade-and-extend’ candidate.

The masses have taken issue with Bumgarner, consistently stating that his fastball velocity is on the decline. However, thus far in his 2019 campaign, he’s looked just fine. His fastball currently sits at a comfortable 90-92 mph range, and his breaking stuff is as deceptive as ever.

Bumgarner’s postseason numbers speak for themselves. He carries an air of dominance about him when things get serious, and his three World Series rings would state that in ink.

It is also worth noting that Bumgarner carries a legitimate bat on his shoulders. We’re talking 18 career home runs in 540 career at-bats. As a comparison — in 2016, Bumgarner’s teammate, Buster Posey, hit 14 home runs in 539 at-bats over the course of the season. Case and point, the guy can hit. As if the current iteration of the Phillies’ lineup wasn’t scary enough — with Bumgarner added, there truly would be a threat at every spot in the order.

So, what does a guy like Bumgarner cost the Philadelphia Front Office? Well, if he continues to succeed over the course of the 2019 season, the price won’t exactly be low, even for a rental.

The most current trade comparison that comes to mind is the James Paxton-to-Yankees trade, in which the Yankees sent the game’s #31 prospect (at the time) in Justus Sheffield, as well as two well-represented fliers to the Mariners in exchange for the stud left-handed pitcher, who wouldn’t hit Free Agency until 2021.

In the Phillies’ case, I could see RHP prospect, Adonis Medina, headlining a deal for Bumgarner, however, San Francisco is in dire need of major-league level outfield talent, and is likely to prioritize that factor. This being the case, guys like Adam Haseley and Nick Williams could certainly perk the ears of the Giants Front Office.

It is also possible that Bumgarner is paired in trade with someone like LHP Will Smith, who, thus far, is having an outstanding season, and would be a welcome addition to the back end of any bullpen.

Overall, the trade would cost a pretty penny, but, should Bumgarner retain his current production and carry his postseason dominance along with him, it would prove a worthwhile investment.

Mike Minor, LHP, Texas Rangers

It was reported, per Bob Nightengale, early Wednesday morning that the Phillies and Mets both had interest in Minor, who is off to a stellar start to the season.

Mike Minor is the ideal target for a deadline acquisition. He not only adds a much needed lefty to the Phillies rotation, but he’s also well suited for the bullpen. Minor often reminds me of what Adam Morgan could have been — before shoulder surgery ruined his durability as a starter.

Minor is currently on year 2 of a 3-year, $28 Million contract, which owes him $9.5 Million both in 2019 and 2020, making him an extremely affordable, low-risk option for whichever role he ends up in.

Earlier this Summer, when teams were taking interest in the the Rangers’ starter, they expressed that they would only be interested in moving him for a legitimate prospect. Whatever that may mean, I could see a package centered around a solid talent with upside, like Jojo Romero or Francisco Morales, getting the job done.

Minor is probably at the top of my list in terms of targets, specifically because of his role flexibility and his price tag.

I would love to see him in a Phillies uniform come July.

Felipe Vasquez, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Vasquez is a fireballing lefty who has shown significant promise as a closer over his short major league career.

He notched 37 saves with Pittsburgh in 2018, along with a 2.70 ERA, and he currently sports a 0 ERA with 4 saves in 2019, one of those saves being a 2-inning masterpiece against his former team, the Washington Nationals.

Vasquez also happens to be on a steal of a contract, and is under team control for the next four years, thus making him the ideal target for a team on the hunt for sustained success, much like the Phillies.

Because of his team-friendly contract, as well as his pedigree as a closer, Vasquez won’t come cheap. While the return he garners won’t exactly be comparable to that of the Mets/Mariners blockbuster trade involving star closer Edwin Diaz, some factors could remain similar.

Like Bumgarner, it is also possible that Vasquez could come as a package deal with RHP Keone Kela, or even catcher Francisco Cervelli, to maximize return on the deal.

I’d expect someone like Adonis Medina, or even Alec Bohm to headline this trade, as Vasquez’ friendly contract and numbers significantly boost his value.

Vasquez would be a welcome addition to an already strong Phillies bullpen, especially seeing as the Phillies haven’t been incredibly successful with the closer-by-committee strategy.

Raisel Iglesias, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

Iglesias has been on the Phillies’ list for quite some time, and, given the Reds mighty struggles this season, now would be the perfect time to snatch him up.

After signing a three-year, $24M extension with the Reds this past offseason, Iglesias has struggled to maintain the form that made him such a highly touted closing candidate.

Raisel pitches from a wacky arm slot, and does so with velocity, making his stuff borderline unfair. However, he has a tendency to allow his fastball to linger in the zone, which gets him into trouble.

With just a few adjustments, Iglesias could return to his shutdown self. Is that gamble one that the Phillies would be willing to take on?

The Reds likely aren’t looking to give Iglesias away, but I’d imagine his price to less than that of Vasquez by a significant amount.

The Phillies have three arms rotating out of their bullpen next season in Neshek, Hunter, and Nicasio, giving them all the space in the world to accept the potential closer.

Robbie Ray, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Robbie Ray is an intriguing case, to say the least.

The Phillies had their eyes on the 27 year-old lefty this past offseason, but the Arizona Front Office made it clear that he would not be available, barring something drastic. However, given the team’s struggles, as well as their willingness to trade star first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, I’m sure their tune will change once July roles around.

Ray is an absolute force in terms of strikeout numbers. Over his last three seasons, he’s averaged an 11.8 K/9, using a combination of his vast arsenal, as well as a deceptive arm slot, to make hitters look absolutely foolish when facing him.

However, though good his strikeout numbers may be, his durability and walk rates are, for lack of a better word, horrendous. Over that same 3-season timeframe, Ray has averaged a 4.1 BB/9, including an absolutely terrifying 5.1 BB/9 season in 2018. He’s continued the trend in 2019 as well, currently sitting at an unbearable 6.3 BB/9. Ray also has yet to exceed a 200 frame season over the span of his career, which is worrisome in a 27 year-old.

What would Ray cost in a deal? Hopefully not too much. Should he show any significant sign of improvement in his ability to stabilize and throw strikes, perhaps then he’d be worth a top-tier prospect, but, as of now, I don’t see him garnering such, given his ugly peripherals. However, he is under club control until 2021, thus upping his potential trade value.

I don’t adore the idea of Robbie Ray, but he certainly would get the job done — though his price tag does make me slightly wary.

It’s clear that the Phillies will be buyers come July, and, in all likelihood, they’ll be shopping for pitching, as their offense is already one of the best in the game.

The deadline is sure to be fun in Philadelphia this year — something, something, stupid money.