As the MLB All-Star break and 2021 draft have come and gone, the Philadelphia Phillies now turn their eyes towards the trade deadline. Sitting at a 44-44 record and just 3.5 games out of the lead for the NL East, the Phillies will have to determine if they are buyers or sellers ahead of the deadline.
Philadelphia was, and still is, expected to compete and make playoff berths with this current roster, and yet here we wait. But, the Phillies have the luxury of playing in one of the weakest divisions in baseball, as well as a softer schedule during the second half of their season compared to the first.
For these reasons, Philadelphia should be sitting firmly on the ‘buyers’ side of the line, despite some fans calling for a full demolition of the roster.
With that in mind, what or who should the Phillies pursue?
Yes, the bullpen is bad. Like, really bad. The rotation could use some help, as Matt Moore and Chase Anderson are clearly not the answer to take the ball every fifth day as a backend starter. But, a quality addition to the lineup could be the answer to this team’s never ending quest to find the postseason.
The answer: Joey Gallo.
Let’s start with the less obvious when it comes to what Gallo would bring to the Phillies and begin with his defense. It was a known factor that coming into this season the lineup was going to have to outhit the defense. That has proven to be true, except that the lineup hasn’t consistently lived up to its end of the bargain. Meanwhile, the defense has excelled at not getting the job done as it sits in 29th in the league in terms of defensive runs saved. Not great, but we’ve known that.
A lot of the blame can be placed on the performances of third base with Alec Bhom holding down the position, Rhys Hoskins at first, and take your pick of centerfielder who has been less than impressive in the field and at the dish.
An addition of Gallo would help infuse some much needed defense into the everyday makeup of this roster. In a shortened 2020 season, Gallo won the Gold Glove for his work in right field. Additionally, he has played 55 games in centerfield, 156 in left, and 95 at first base. He originally was groomed as a third baseman and has big league experience there, but he has said he never wants to see the hot corner again.
Joey Gallo robs the Tiger of a home run on the first pitch of the game @Rangers | #StraightUpTX pic.twitter.com/BEW7bwz0vM— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) July 6, 2021
With all that in mind, Gallo could easily come in and slot into left field, or even centerfield, and provide a major upgrade defensively and offensively (more on that in a moment). Additionally, he could play first base when Hoskins needs a day off, or he could make it his permanent position if Hoskins were to be moved back to the outfield.
With Gallo, the defensive options are abundant. However, Gallo has benefited over the years offensively from making a home at one defensive position. His best seasons at the plate statistically, have come from when he is not asked to play multiple positions and can instead focus on his craft at the plate.
From 2015 to 2018, Gallo was asked to play two infield positions as well as the outfield. During that period, his OPS hovered just above .700. Since his permanent move to the outfield in 2019, Gallo’s OPS has consistently been above .900 (aside from an odd 2020) and he has won a Gold Glove and made two All-Star appearances. The results speak for themselves.
During his time in the league Gallo has been the poster child for the ‘three true outcomes’ movement, meaning that this type of player will either strikeout, walk or hit a home run during every plate appearance. At the beginning of his career, Gallo was a one-trick pony and fit the above bill. His home run and walk rate was astonishing, his strikeout rate even more so.
However, his maturity and development at the plate took a positive turn in 2019. Before his season was ended by a broken Hamate bone, Gallo had placed himself firmly in the conversation of AL MVP. He did so by becoming more selective at the plate, walking more, striking out just a little less, and still hitting home runs at a ridiculous pace. It was enough to get him to the All-Star game, but due to the injury mentioned above, Gallo would only appear in 70 games that season.
The 2020 season was an odd season for everyone, Gallo included. He had reworked his swing due the Hamate bone injury and his offensive numbers took a hit. Yet, his defensive work made up for some of it and he was rewarded for the effort with a Gold Glove during the shortened season.
IVE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU JOEY GALLO IS ON FIRE!! 5 STRAIGHT GAMES WITH AT LEAST 1 HOMERUN— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) July 1, 2021
Now, it’s 2021 and Gallo is picking up right where he left off when he was making noise in the MVP race just two seasons ago. His defense is as stellar as ever, he is the MLB leader in walks with 72, and he recently did what no other Texas Ranger has ever done: hit 10 home runs in 10 games. His season total now sits at 24 home runs, has an OBP of .402 and he might just be the hottest hitter in baseball at the moment. He has reformed himself into a complete baseball player, one that can no longer be defined as a ‘three true outcomes’ type of player.
Texas will not part with Gallo for some throw away prospects, not when he still under team control through 2022 and is a budding superstar. When negotiating, sometimes it takes understanding your opponent just as well as yourself to get a deal done.
The Rangers see themselves contending in 2023 and if they have their way, Gallo is a part of that contending squad. Additionally, if you look at some of the Rangers recent trades, they have traded away veteran players, but ensured they received impact, Major League-ready players in return. The Lance Lynn trade to the Chicago White Sox that saw Texas get pitcher Dane Dunning in return is the most recent example of this.
White Sox have been looking for a starting pitcher, and they are landing arguably the best on the trade market. They also had been discussing a Sonny Gray deal with the Reds but pivoted toward Lynn and finished it with Rangers for Dane Dunning and a prospect, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2020
Another is when Texas sent fire beathing reliever Pete Fairbanks to the Tampa Bay Rays for second baseman Nick Solak. The former, just like Dane Dunning, immediately made an impact to the Rangers’ roster and continues to do so. Philadelphia would have to give up far more than that to acquire Gallo’s services, but the return for the present and the future should exceed any cost it would take.
Gallo can help solidify a faltering defense, add much needed run-creating potential, and has an overall demeanor and love for the game that can’t be quantified. He is a piece that belongs on a winning team. He is a piece that will help turn a team, like the Phillies, into contenders not just this season, but beyond.
And while the Phillies are at it, they should just ask Texas to throw in reliever Ian Kennedy to sweeten the deal.