As ESPN’s Jeff Passan detailed Friday afternoon, the Phillies have made a trade:
Trade news: The New York Yankees acquired RP Addison Russ from the Philadelphia Phillies, sources tell ESPN. The 25-year-old right-hander has been dominant over his minor league career, with a 2.48 ERA and 200 strikeouts in 152.2 innings. He’ll head to New York’s alternate site.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 21, 2020
When news of this trade broke, some fans found themselves confused. Addison Russ was a name that was floating around as one of the Phillies’ next possible relief call-ups, and this Phillies bullpen, as demonstrated in two horrible losses to the Buffalo Blue Jays on Thursday, NEEDS HELP.
Russ seemed like the perfect man to be next-in-line for the job, too, as he put up some really solid numbers in Double-A last year (56.2 IP, 2.54 ERA, 12.9 K/9, 1.18 WHIP). He also boasts some impressive “stuff” which this Phillies ‘pen desperately needs — he tops out at 96, and throws a nasty splitter, and Phillies’ pitching coach, Bryan Price, loves a good splitter.
There were, however, some downsides to Russ, as well.
Addison is Rule 5 eligible at the end of this year — and the Phillies are facing a pretty major 40-man roster crunch come 2021. There were also reports that surfaced that detailed that Russ wasn’t having the best showing at the Phillies’ alternate site, and he’d put up some lack-luster numbers in Major League camp, as well.
That, however, does not excuse the fact that Russ is still a young, talented, projectable arm — and that’s worth something.
So who exactly did the Phillies deal one of their top relief prospects for?
Phillies getting David Hale from Yankees for Addison Russ, source tells @MattGelb. First with Russ to NYY: @JeffPassan.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 21, 2020
David Hale. A 32 year-old righty who was DFA’d by the Yankees earlier this week.
First things first, I will concede that Hale put up some solid numbers in the Major Leagues in 2019, albeit in low-leverage situations (3.11 ERA, 20 G, 37.2 IP).
He is a workhorse, and can pitch multiple innings at a time, which is something this Phillies bullpen definitely needed.
That said, Hale has been bouncing between the Minors and Majors for quite some time now. This is a guy that you could probably wait to claim off of waivers — if not, you could likely nab him for a low-profile Player To Be Named Later.
But the Phillies traded one of their most promising, Major League ready relief arms for a painfully average pitcher... and that is an issue.
Hale is a guy who will likely see a non-tender after this season, as he is arbitration eligible, and is easy to upgrade from — especially should he have a poor remainder of the 2020 season.
Does this help the Phillies bullpen now? Sure, it certainly can’t hurt them more than their other arms already have.
Is David Hale a Major League pitcher who is able to get batters out? Probably.
Is this a good trade? No, no it is not.
The Yankees saw the Phillies’ dire need to upgrade their bullpen, and took full advantage of it, shipping off a Quad-A relief pitcher for a young, stuff-heavy, projectable arm.
To put this in perspective; the Phillies DFA’d RHP Edgar Garcia earlier this month — another potential-ridden relief arm — and he was immediately snapped up by the Tampa Bay Rays (who are notorious for their ability to develop pitching) for a mere PTBNL.
An average, 32 year-old reliever garnered more of a price from the Phillies than a 23 year-old with big bullpen potential net them in return.
That is a BIG problem.
Anyway, to leave things on a good note, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal also had this to add:
Also: Phillies have spoken with Red Sox about Brandon Workman, sources tell me and @MattGelb. https://t.co/GDhDSS1gzJ— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 21, 2020
Now THIS would be considered a major upgrade. Brandon Workman was easily one of the best relievers in all of baseball last year, and, while he struggles with command, he has some truly tempting stuff.
The only issue with acquiring Workman — he’s owed $3.5 Million this year, a figure which would easily put the Phillies over the dreaded luxury tax threshold. So, they’ll likely have to ask the Red Sox to eat most, if not all, of Workman’s remaining salary, so he won’t come cheap in terms of prospect return.
(Fun fact, Workman was actually a 3rd round draft pick of the Phillies in 2007, but elected to go to college instead.)
Anyway, the lesson from all of this:
STOP TRADING UPSIDE FOR AVERAGE PRODUCTION. PLEASE, PHILLIES. WE’RE BEGGING YOU.
Ok, rant over.