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Bi-Weekly Report Card: The Trade Deadline

The Phillies pulled the trigger on a couple of smaller pieces and didn’t on their biggest need.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline is the best time of year to take certain flaws your roster may have and turn them into... pretty much anything else.

For the Phillies, they walked into the deadline needing depth. They needed to find some type of pitcher, some type of valuable bench piece, and a bat to help the lineup.

These aren’t flashy needs but they built the roster to avoid this situation, even when they lost Rhys Hoskins to injury, they still have star hitters.

A good comparison is what the Marlins did, who don’t have high-priced talent throughout the lineup. They’re ranked 28th in home runs and 18th in wRC+, so they added two big-name power hitters.

The Phillies can’t replace Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, or JT Realmuto, the Marlins can replace Garrett Cooper and Jean Segura (I miss you).

Do I personally like them being stingy on an outfield bat? Not really, but it’s also hard to know if Teoscar Hernández and Adam Duvall were truly available (Pham went for way too much).

I’ll factor not getting an outfielder into my final grade for this but they did make two interesting trades that should be talked about.

Given that I probably waited too long to release this, I’ll be back in a week and a half.

Michael Lorenzen for Hao Yu Lee

Lorenzen broke out in his second full season as a starter. From 2016-2021, the Cincinnati Reds converted him to the bullpen with varying levels of success.

In 2019, he pitched to a 2.92 ERA with a strikeout rate of 24.8%. He’s always displayed plus stuff and potential but being a reliever doesn’t get you far. When he was done with the Reds, he hit the free agency market as a starting pitcher.

The Los Angeles Angels gave him the opportunity and he only made 18 starts due to a shoulder injury. He pitched to a 4.24 ERA while struggling with walks and pitching every fifth day.

The rebuilding Detroit Tigers needed innings and Lorenzen delivered. He cut the walk rate down by over four percent and made the AL All-Star team with a 3.58 ERA and 3.88 FIP.

The Phillies want to limit innings for Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suárez, and Taijuan Walker, who have all either dealt with second-half struggles or injury issues.

For now, they will go with a six-man rotation while the schedule is easier for August. If they haven’t separated themselves enough this month by facing teams like the Royals, Nationals (two series), Twins, Cardinals, and Angels then they might have to knock someone out.

If they knock someone out, it’s probably going to be Lorenzen because of his success as a reliever. He also brings the best “reliever-type” profile of their starters.

His four-seam fastball has a run value of eleven and his slider sits at six (positive is good in this case). He also has a 31.8% whiff rate on his changeup. He should be able to flip-flop between both without much problem.

Giving up Hao Yu Lee is challenging but with Turner and Bryson Stott here long-term, there just wasn’t enough room. Given the cost of pitching this deadline, the Phillies got a good value for a productive swing-man.

Grade: B-

Lorenzen is already making this trade look smart with eight stellar innings against the Marlins earlier today (and saved the bullpen).

Rodolfo Castro for Bailey Falter

On the surface, Castro is having a tough year for the Pittsburgh Pirates with an 83 OPS+ in 78 games with a bad defensive glove.

The first thing to get out of the way is that he’s probably not a shortstop, which they don’t need him to be given Turner’s durability. At third base, he has four defensive runs saved and three more over at second base.

They don’t want to wear Stott down who looked tired at the end of last year and has to play deep into the calendar year in back-to-back years, remember he played in the Arizona Fall League the year before.

In 223 plate appearances against left-handed pitching, Castro has a .277 average and a .900 OPS. He has real power with 14 home runs, which the Phillies could desperately use.

This is similar to the Edmundo Sosa trade last season in some ways but Castro may not need fixing. He’s already good enough to play the role they’re going to give him so he doesn’t need Kevin Long magic.

Bailey Falter was given the number five spot in their rotation to begin the season after Andrew Painter got hurt in March. He didn’t deliver with an ERA over five and a velocity dip. He also won’t have a minor league option next season unless the Pirates are granted one by Major League Baseball (he probably will, the Phillies got one for Cristopher Sánchez).

Castro is also replacing Josh Harrison, who hit .182 with a .433 OPS. The Phillies are going from that to a .900 OPS in Castro, who plays the same positions as Harrison.

If you’ve ever listened to The Athletic Football Show (I doubt anyone here has), one of the co-hosts Nate Tice (son of former Vikings coach Mike Tice) loves to make a certain point. The idea of going from very bad to average is still a major upgrade.

Castro isn’t going to play some big role for this team but going from a .433 OPS in limited chances against lefties to someone with a .900 OPS is a significant upgrade.

Grade: A

Their most significant need at the deadline was a corner outfield bat and that wasn’t fulfilled. Tommy Pham was the best corner bat traded at the deadline but the price was rather steep (don’t trade kids for rentals).

It’s a disappointing deadline for sure but the reality is they need their best players to hit like their best players. This also paves the way for Johan Rojas to play most days, who Dave Dombrowski said has “star potential” (sure, whatever). Brandon Marsh is probably going to play a lot more left field, who thrived there with the Angels last season.

I get not wanting to deal with the Mets’ price tag but it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed.

Final grade: C+