Tuesday afternoon, the Phillies thought they had a trade in place to acquire Tyler Anderson from the Pirates. By Tuesday evening, that deal was off because of a bad physical review from one of the players reportedly headed back to Pittsburgh, and Seattle swooped in to nab Anderson before a different trade could be re-worked. It’s a shame for the Phillies that something couldn’t get done, but it’s also not the end of the world.
Anderson would have fit exactly what this team needs: a mid-rotation starter that can go for longer than five innings at a time. We have seen the struggles they have had getting bulk innings from their #4 and 5 starters, hardly any of them demonstrating the ability to even get into the fifth inning, let alone passed it. Matt Moore’s start on Tuesday night underscored just how bad this team has missed on evaluating the talent they thought they had brought in this offseason. In their eyes, signing Moore and Chase Anderson, coupled with retaining Vince Velasquez for one more go ‘round, to them felt like enough quality depth that they would be able to get through the season and be in contention for a playoff drive. While it didn’t take long to see that that plan was misguided, it is almost the end of July and those three are still making regular starts in the rotation. The reasons for that are many, but by agreeing to a deal for Anderson in the first place, even though it fell through, at least showed that they know improvement must be made.
But Anderson is also no world-beater himself. Even with those positives of being able to make regular solid starts, he would have been no better than fourth in this rotation. His profile as a low strikeout pitcher meant that he depends on his defense more often than most pitchers. The defense in Pittsburgh (-3 OAA as a team) was by no means good, but it’s not as though he would be coming to Philadelphia and experiencing a team that flashes the leather with aplomb (-14 OAA as a team). He would have remained the same pitcher. Granted, that pitcher still would have been an upgrade for the Phillies, but that’s more of a reflection on how bad that trio of starters have been.
The prospects that the team was going to send back, Cristian Hernandez and Abrahan Gutierrez, aren’t anywhere near the top of the team’s prospect lists. Based on reports going around, whenever they do make it to the majors, they aren’t going to be anything especially exciting barring some huge jumps in development. By all accounts, they are simply catching depth in an organization that actually has a lot of it. Still, they were enough to entice another team to trade a pretty valuable trade asset in Anderson, so there are other teams out there that want them in their organization. As much as we knock the team’s player development system, there has be some measure of satisfaction that two players even lower on their prospect list would have been able to net them a pitcher like Anderson.
The team needs help. Matt Moore and Chase Anderson and Vince Velasquez have proven that. The team knows this and is actively working on it. According to Jim Salisbury, they aren’t crazy about the priced of starters on the trade market.
So, now the Phillies are back where they were, searching for starting pitching. The team has irons in the fire, but prices are high and the starting pitching market is not impressive, save for Washington’s Max Scherzer, who probably won’t be dealt within the NL East.
They missed on Anderson and while it’s disappointing, it isn’t the end of the world. There is still time to go get someone to help the rotation. We’ll just have to wait and see if they can execute a deal in time.