We’ve previewed players that the Phillies can buy to help shore up their offense, starting pitching and relief pitching. Now, we get into silly season - making up trades!
What does this number mean to you? No, it’s not the winning percentage the Phillies might have if they hadn’t blown every save opportunity known to man, nor is it the slugging percentage since mid-May of Andrew McCutchen (though it certainly feels like it could be that). No, this is the combined OPS the centerfielders have given the Phillies this season. Travis Jankowski (.700 OPS) has certainly been a lift when he has played, but we’re all pretty aware that he is a fourth outfielder riding the wave of a hot streak. Odubel Herrera, whose 253 plate appearance at the position leads the team, has an OPS of .656 as a centerfielder. The other players that have roamed the position aren’t really worth mentioning since they haven’t done much of anything.
Suffice it to say: the position could use an upgrade. We looked last week how the team could look to acquire Kris Bryant in a deal, along with Craig Kimbrel, to shore up two different positions of need on the team. We used Baseball Trade Values to try and get as even a trade as we could with the publicly available information that we have. So today, let’s look at another option to roam the centerfield expanse in Starling Marte.
We’ve seen what Marte can do to a team. Just a week ago, he pummeled the Phillies while Miami was visiting Philadelphia, showing a power and speed combination that the current Phillies do not possess. As a pending free agent, Marte would make sense for a team that is looking to make a playoff run, but doesn’t really want to mess up any future plans. The price tag to get him on the team shouldn’t be very high, but since the Phillies are dealing within the division, one has to think that he might cost a tiny bit more. So what might the Marlins want in return?
Looking at Fangraphs’ prospect list, they seem to be light on hitting prospects. They don’t have many hitting prospects higher than A+ ball, so getting someone closer to the majors would be preferable. I spoke with Ely Sussman of the SBNation Marlins site, Fish Stripes, to see what it would take to get Marte sent to Philadelphia.
The ideal centerpiece of a Marte trade is a close-to-the-majors catching prospect with a legit hit tool.
We’ve seen this mentioned often in rumors, but we also saw a little nugget from Marlins beat writer Craig Mish. According to his podcast episode, the Marlins seem to be prioritizing finding a centerfielder of the future in a deal, though not necessarily in a deal for Marte.
So, we have a little bit of a framework there for Marte. It’s doubtful that Miami would want someone like Mickey Moniak in return for Marte as he doesn’t exactly fit the mold of an impact centerfielder. The team does have some starting catching depth they could deal from, though if they wanted to keep Rafael Marchan, they have someone like Logan O’Hoppe to deal as part of something. That means they would have to add someone who would make the Marlins want to do the trade dance. That’s where this deal comes in.
Phillies get: Starling Marte, Richard Bleier, Jorge Guzman
Marlins get: Bryson Stott, Logan O’Hoppe
What does BTV have to say about this move?
So, why might the Phillies do this? Well, they’re in the position to be buyers as they still are close enough to the Mets to get aggressive at the deadline. Settling on Marte would drastically improve the centerfield position, while the additions of Bleier (2.82 ERA, 145 ERA+ over 48 1⁄3 innings) and Guzman would add some depth to a bullpen that can use as many quality arms as they can get. Bleier has another year of control left through arbitration, while Guzman has the residue of prospect pedigree, he’s more of a depth type arm at this point.
Would the Marlins do this? Let’s go back to Ely:
There’s a decent chance this trade would be accepted by the Marlins. Recent MLB trade deadlines have shown that pending free agents, even awesome ones, don’t command big returns on their own. The Marlins understand that and wouldn’t mind packaging Starling Marte with another player and/or eating some of his remaining salary to get a young player they’re truly confident in. The ideal centerpiece of a Marte trade is a close-to-the-majors catching prospect with a legit hit tool. If the Marlins can’t get that, Bryson Stott would be a very nice consolation prize. I imagine that they’d target catcher Logan O’Hoppe as the secondary piece, even if it means sweetening the pot with one of their minor league pitchers (like Jorge Guzman). They already have a solid major league middle infield of Jazz and Miguel Rojas, but those two have rarely been healthy at the same time. Stott makes sense as the next man up or as a potential successor to Rojas by the end of 2022.
Seems like the Marlins would jump at this deal and that according to BTV, the Phillies would be overpaying. That’s why as much as it would help them this year, it would probably be a wiser move to pump the brakes here. It isn’t the right move to base all of their decision making on what a website says, but this would be an overpay by the Phillies. As Ely put it, rental players don’t really fetch that much at the deadline. Sending back their best hitting prospect in return for a guy who may not be around in April wouldn’t be the best use of Stott as a trade chip. The wiser way to use him would be to use him as a trade chip to get back someone who can make more of an impact or someone who has more control than what Marte has. Who that player is is up to them.