In last night’s 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays in Toronto, a shorthanded Phillies team came up just short for the third straight night, a third one-run loss in a row that has muted the momentum the team had generated since Rob Thomson took over at the beginning of June.
The bullpen was forced into its second bullpen game in three days, and performed admirably. Injuries to Zach Eflin and Ranger Suarez have left the rotation depleted, and the vaccination status of Bailey Falter left him unavailable to make a start in Toronto last night. Nevertheless, Phils relievers cobbled together eight decent innings of pitching, but the high-priced offense once again failed to produce enough runs to win.
In the four-game series in St. Louis last weekend, the bats scattered just seven runs. They added only three more to that tally last night, 10 runs in their last five games (for those who flunked 1st grade math, that’s a 2.0 average).
Their No. 3 hitter, Nick Castellanos, has an incomprehensible .672 OPS and a .375 slugging percentage. Their cleanup hitter, Darick Hall, has 50 career at-bats under his belt (although his .835 OPS since his call-up has been a lifesaving surprise). Didi Gregorius, hitting 5th last night, has zero home runs on the season and an OPS of .649. Bryson Stott, the rookie shortstop, batted 6th, is hitting just .184 (although he did homer, had two hits and is looking better recently). Matt Vierling, Odubel Herrera and Garrett Stubbs made up the last three in the order.
With Bryce Harper and Jean Segura out at least another month, J.T. Realmuto struggling and Alec Bohm’s power yet to consistently surface, it’s not surprising the offense has gone into hibernation over the last week as they face non-Washington Nationals pitching. But there are also limitations on what Dombrowski can do.
With Harper relegated to DH duties only upon his return and Rhys Hoskins ensconced at first base, it seems unlikely they’d target DH/1B options like Josh Bell, Nelson Cruz or Trey Mancini. Sure, Castellanos is struggling, but they’re not replacing him in right field, and Schwarber mans left, so corner outfield-only options like Joey Gallo and David Peralta don’t really fit either. That leaves center field, third base, shortstop and second base, and the pickings at those positions are slim.
But, at just one game out of the third wild card spot, the Phillies should be one of the busier buyers at the trade deadline, so here are 10 realistic bats that make sense for them.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Royals
Kansas City is certainly going to move the 28-year-old free agent-to-be. All of his action has been in left field this season, and the last time he played center field was in 2019. Still, his .314/.384/.399 slash line and 126 wRC+ would slide in nicely at the top of the Phils’ lineup and could potentially push Kyle Schwarber down into the No. 3 or 4 hole, giving Schwarbs a chance to pile up more RBI opportunities. Benintendi will get moved, it’s just a matter of to whom and, if it’s the Phils, at how high a price.
Brandon Drury, INF/OF, Reds
When Alec Bohm appeared to break his finger sliding into second base on Monday in St. Louis, it looked like the Phillies were going to need a new third baseman for the next four-to-six weeks. But while the dislocation news was welcome, meaning Bohm likely won’t miss much time, the Phils could certainly use someone with Drury’s versatility regardless. So far this season he’s played 3B, 2B, a little shortstop, left field and right field, all while hitting .276/.334/.536 with 18 HRs and 50 RBIs, worth 2.2 fWAR. He was signed on a minor league deal before the season and could give the Phillies a ton of flexibility all over the diamond.
Ramon Laureano, OF, A’s
A popular trade target rumor during the off-season, the Oakland center fielder is not an impact bat (.239/.329/.397), but his 115 wRC+ is 10th among 38 MLB center fielders with at least 200 plate appearances this season. And although the defensive metrics have him at -8 Defensive Runs Saved this season (that’s bad), he’s historically been a solid-if-overrated center fielder during his career. He’s under team control for another three years, so the cost in prospects to bring him aboard may be too much to handle, but he could also become the team’s center field solution through 2025.
Ian Happ, OF, Cubs
Happ has always been a high strikeout, high walk, decent power bat but this year he’s cut down on those strikeouts, 20.9%, much better than his career 29.2%. As a result, he’s having his best offensive season (.276/.379/.455), with 9 HRs, 41 RBIs and a 130 wRC+. He’s 11th among qualified outfielders with a 2.2 fWAR, is a switch hitter, plays an above average left field and holds his own in center and at second base. He’s under team control through next year, which will increase Chicago’s asking price.
Michael A. Taylor, OF, Royals
Whit Merrifield and Benintendi are certainly the more high profile outfield targets Kansas City can move, but Taylor is a Gold Glove caliber center fielder who is having the best offensive season of his career (.264/.340/.385, wRC+ 107 in 236 PAs). He wouldn’t be a sexy addition, but would give the Phillies some game-changing defense in center while also providing some production at the plate.
Miguel Andujar, INF/OF, Yankees
In 2018, Andujar was the Rookie of the Year runner-up when he slugged 27 HRs with 92 RBIs for New York, but it’s been a struggle for him at the big league level since then. He’s battled injuries and inconsistency, playing just 91 games since 2019, with a .231/.259/.324 slash line and a mere 7 HRs during that stretch. So why are we talking about him? In early June, he asked GM Brian Cashman for a trade and is raking in AAA (.317/.361/.483 in 194 PAs with 7 HRs). Like Bohm, he’s a poor defender at third but has learned to play first, left field and right field to improve his versatility. It might not be a perfect fit for the Phils, but he’s still just 27 years old, and could be an intriguing option.
Jose Iglesias, SS, Rockies
The 32-year-old shortstop/third baseman has been one of the game’s best defenders for a long time, and his glove is still above average. Offensively, there’s no power there (just 2 HRs in 280 PAs) but he’s batting .295 with a .336 OBP. Again, not sterling numbers, but the Phillies aren’t getting much more from Bohm or Gregorius. Iglesias would provide better defense than either player for a comparable offensive trade-off.
Victor Robles, OF, Nationals
Robles can’t hit. He has a career .678 OPS over 1,487 PAs and it’s worse this year, just .598. But the guy can play center field at an elite level and he’s still just 25 years old. Kevin Long coached him in Washington and perhaps, if he thinks there is more there to unlock, the Phils could swing a cheap deal for Robles and get someone who can at least chase down anything hit near center the rest of the way.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B/3B, Tigers
Schoop’s power hasn’t been there this season (.324 SLG, 6 HRs) but traditionally he’s provided decent pop for a middle infielder, with 20+ HRs and doubles in every full MLB season since 2016. The good news for the Tigers is that he appears to be heating up. In 12 games this month, he’s hitting .370/.408/.413 and has played outstanding defense all season long. If Schoop returns to his traditional levels of production, he could be a sneaky buy-low candidate for Dombrowski.
Brad Miller, INF, Rangers
Feeling wistful for some bamboo? If Dombrowski wants to bring a familiar face back for the bench, they could go after Miller, who is having a down season (.597 OPS in 190 PAs) after slugging 20 HRs as a bench guy for the Phils last year.