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MLB Mock Trade Deadline 1.0: Adding a 5-Hole Hitter

It’s July which means it’s officially trade deadline season. Here’s what the Phillies could add at the end of the month.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In my last Bi-Weekly Report Card, I promised a mock trade deadline. Even if there are some big questions about who is going to sell, there is enough information to at least give a solid projection.

As I dive even deeper into the Phillies’ potential needs, most of that piece still holds up. The team doesn’t need a fifth starter given what Cristopher Sánchez has done.

Sánchez has taken the bull by the horns and ran with the fifth starter spot with a 3.26 ERA and just 1.9 BB/9. Even if he is only throwing 90-92 mph, he has two good secondary pitches and is throwing strikes.

He will have a big test against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday but he’s done enough for Dave Dombrowski and the front office to not seriously explore trades later this month.

If they want to call the White Sox about Dylan Cease, be my guest. If they want to call the Pirates about Rich Hill, it won’t do much.

The big need comes in the form of a bat, the Phillies struggled multiple times to drive in runs, and Sunday summed it up perfectly.

They grounded into double plays for three straight innings, the first being Darick Hall in the sixth, then JT Realmuto in the seventh, and finally Brandon Marsh in the eighth.

Given that there’s a market for right-handed corner outfielders, Kyle Schwarber’s defensive struggles (the less said the better), and Bryce Harper making a push for first base, it is clear they should trade for a corner outfielder.

Seattle’s Teoscar Hernández for Carlos De La Cruz

I don’t know if this is an underpay for Hernández or not since he is a pure rental but it’s hard to imagine De La Cruz making the show for this team given that the roster has three different highly-paid outfielders already.

In all honesty, Hernández is not the cleanest fit with the Phillies. He’s not a great defensive outfielder, doesn’t walk a lot, and he leads the league in strikeouts.

What he is however is a gifted hitter who does plenty of damage whenever he makes contact. He’s aggressive like the rest of the offense but with a very successful track record.

From 2020-22, Hernández broke out as a hitter with a 133 OPS+ on a loaded Blue Jays offense and 32 home runs in 2021. He’s crushed left-handed pitching his entire career with a .902 OPS which would be perfect behind Harper, who still has managers making pitching changes despite a lack of power.

This has been a different story for Hernández, it took him two months to get going in Seattle, and has only recently found the same success as an offensive force. He came into June with a .665 OPS but has a .950 OPS over his last 26 games.

Given his recent track record and that he’s been hot for over a month now, it’s easier to believe he’s still a very good hitter. Not to mention, he’s struggled in Seattle with a .718 OPS at home compared to a .795 OPS on road trips.

I’m not asking for anything more than a two-month offensive boost. He’s hitting .329 with runners in scoring position and brings middle-of-the-order power with 15 home runs so far.

To me, he’s the perfect two-month rental for this team as they make their run for a second straight pennant.

Other Right-Handed Options

There are some other right-handed options if Hernández either isn’t available or if they get outbid.

Starting with the Mets, Tommy Pham has put together an awesome first half in the big apple with a 145 OPS+. He isn’t a great defender and you’re making a trade with a rival but he would help the Phillies a lot.

Mark Canha is possibly the best fit with well above strikeout and walk rates but he isn’t the impact bat Hernández and Pham are. His defense has also declined since joining New York.

An Andrew McCutchen reunion would be interesting. He is more of an impact bat than Canha and also has a very good eye at the plate. The issue is that he’s played just 64.2 innings of outfield all season.

Getting Schwarber out of left field is very important in making this work so McCutchen is a likely no from me. He also was a bad left fielder defensively the last time he was here.

Finally, there is Adam Duvall who would give them plus defense immediately but has questions with the bat. Since coming back from injury, Duvall is hitting just .154 with a .508 OPS.

The Phillies could also use another bench infielder so they can part ways with Josh Harrison. Since May 30, Harrison does have a .333 average but it’s just hard to see that sticking. If he keeps it up then it’s fine but unexpected.

Outside of that, there aren’t any big needs to fill. If Seranthony Domínguez’s injury lingers then they could add another right-handed arm but Yunior Marté and Jeff Hoffman have given them good innings as of late.

As always, I’ll be back in two weeks.