Baseball’s Winter Meetings is always a hoopla of entertainment. When we aren’t getting witty quips from Scott Boras, we’re seeing tweets being fired off left and right about who is interested in who, who is getting their tires kicked and of course, Arson Judge being mentioned.
Welcome to the Sports Twitter meme pantheon, Arson Judge. pic.twitter.com/aQNzg5GgVG— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 6, 2022
Yes, it’s all fun and games for us, the onlookers, but for the executives that have to actually do this for as a way to feed their children, it’s painful. There are late night meetings, endless text messages and maybe, just maybe, a phone call is made between people.
Yes, yes, I am aware that that medium of communication between people is mostly dead, but it can happen! Especially these days if someone is driving and can’t text while they drive. Right?
Anyway, the Phillies will be well represented by their contingent of decision makers next week and they’ll continue seeking ways to improve the current roster that is fighting to keep the championship window propped open. The best way to do so is the simply spend money since it allows the minor league system to stay flush with still developing talent, but sometimes, you just have to make a deal. Someone has to leave the organization in exchange for another player or two. Trades are never the fun part of the business for players since it involves moving on from an organization they have grown comfortable with, but it also involves uprooting from the confines of a community they might be involved with, might be raising a young family in, may have personal ties to from years past. It can be an emotional time for that player to be traded that we don’t really get to see behind the curtains.
But it’s sure fun for us to think about!
So let’s look at a few names that could be bandied about in the coming days as the smoke begins to billow from different rumors.
Listen, I know Dave Dombrowski did his best to quash all the whispers surrounding Castellanos once the offseason began. He tried to reassure that Castellanos isn’t going anywhere, that the team looks forward to his contributing to the 2024 team and beyond.
Who is he trying to fool?
As much as the team wanted to put out that fire once it was lit, the smoke made its way to other teams and, unfortunately for a team as secretive as the Phillies, to other media outlets. When it started flashing across news ribbons that the team was shopping Castellanos around, it let people know that they were looking to upgrade their offense or, at the very least, revamp their approach. Though Castellanos had an All-Star season for the Phillies in 2023, he represents the easiest way to help with the approach they’re likely now looking for.
The crux of the issue is his contract. Making $20 million a year for two more years isn’t going to make Castellanos appealing. There is still talent there, prodigious talent at times, but for what he is producing at the plate, the value just isn’t there. Still, you never know what other teams are thinking. Maybe someone will take on Castellanos so long as the Phillies eat a majority of the money. It could happen and it’s something to watch for.
Every year, there is a prospect at the top of a team’s farm system that becomes everyone’s favorite prospect to trade. This offseason, for the Phillies, it looks like it is Abel’s turn to take the wheel.
Want an impact reliever from Milwaukee? Trade Mick Abel.
Looking for a middle of the order bat? Trade Mick Abel.
An upgrade for the bottom of the rotation? Trade Mick Abel (over giving him a shot).
It’s what happens when a team is thin in the farm system as far as impact talent, but does have something at least resembling depth at a position every team in baseball needs - pitching. Nevermind that the Phillies could really just use that depth themselves. They should be looking to send Abel out at the next possible deal.
It does make some sense. Though we won’t see top 100 lists for some time, there is almost a certainty that Abel will make his way onto those lists with relative ease. He’s got the pedigree needed to excel and started to flash the conversion from potential to ability on the mound at the end of 2023. He’s close enough to the majors that a debut in 2024 is not out of the realm of possibility. All of these factors do make him desirable on the trade market and someone who could bring back a piece that could make a sizable impact for the Phillies.
Numbers are a funny thing. Looking at Crawford’s end of season stat line and you’ll find a star in the making. A .332/.392/.467 with 47 stolen bases is nothing to sneeze at when looking at a prospect, particularly one as young as Crawford. Under the hood, there is still a lot of refinement that has to go into Crawford’s game.
Matt Winkelman has collected data from the minor league Statcast data pool and found that Crawford put 212 ball in play in 2023. There is a lot of it and it’s too much to parse out individually, but two troubling things jump out:
- he had a median launch angle of -9*
- he had an average exit velocity of 86.5 miles per hour
He’s driving the ball into the ground often and when he does hit it, there isn’t a ton behind it. The second part of that isn’t going to be surprising. He’s not a prospect that is known for his power, but teams were definitely aware of it since they changed their approach to pitching to him once they recognized he wasn’t going to impact fastballs upon promotion from Low-A Jersey Shore to High-A Clearwater.
With the launch angle, it’s something the team is clearly aware of and is trying to fix, but it’s going to take some mechanical changes to his swing that will involve time and patience. Yet this is the kind of data that teams are looking at as opposed to what we find on the back of a baseball card. This is what teams will look for when evaluating minor league talent.
Now, a lot of teams might see the speed, the first round pedigree and have a belief in their own hitting development system that they’d like to acquire Crawford to see what they can make of him. Were they to get him to lift the ball more and put more balls in the gap, that turns him into a similar player to his father, which if you recall, is something of 4-6 WAR player. That’s an All-Star, sometimes MVP, type player. But is what Crawford is now enough to lead some kind of trade package? That will all depend on what other teams believe they can do with what he has.
There is no guarantee either of these three players will be traded. Chances are they’ll all still be here in spring training. You’ll still hear these names a lot in the coming days. It will be interesting to see if they are moved at all and for what.