With today being September 1st, we are now exactly one month removed from the MLB trade deadline. By now you’re acquainted with who the Phillies and Dave Dombrowski did acquire before the clock struck 6 pm on August 1st. But if you remember, the biggest discussion topic by the time it was 6:01 was why didn’t the Phillies trade for an outfielder.
There were a multitude of names connected to the Phillies around the deadline rumor mill. Some more than others, but here’s a list of the most commonly referred to names:
- Tommy Pham
- Tyler O’Neil
- Adam Duvall
- Mark Canha
- Randal Grichuk
- Hunter Renfroe
One by one they began to fly off the board or weren’t traded at all. The Phillies elected to continue to roll with Johan Rojas and Jake Cave to help bolster an offense that was struggling to score runs at the time.
Now let’s look at how each of those players have performed since the trade deadline passed:
- Pham- .242/.291/.421, 3 HRs, 90 wRC+
- O’Neil- .192/.298/.452, 5 HRs, 104 wRC+
- Duvall- .304/.360/.685, 9 HRs, 174 wRC+
- Canha- .271/.357/.400, 2 HRs, 107 wRC+
- Grichuk- .165/.219/.320, 3 HRs, 40 wRC+
- Renfroe- .193/.260/.330, 2 HRs, 59 wRC+
Finally, let’s look at the post-deadline numbers for Rojas and Cave:
- Johan Rojas- .268/.316/.408, 1 HR, 96 wRC+
- Jake Cave- .275/.321/.549, 4 HRs, 129 wRC+
One stands out, but...
The only possible trade option that has outperformed both Rojas and Cave has been Duvall. But keep in mind that at the time of the trade deadline, the Red Sox were 2.5 games back of the third Wild Card spot in the AL. It’s doubtful that Duvall was ever really available in a trade. Ultimately, the Red Sox elected to stand pat and attempt to make a run. That decision has backfired however, as they went 13-15 in August and are now 6.5 GB with 28 games to play.
As for the rest?
Pham has been a decent pickup for a Diamondbacks team that is trying to hang on to the third Wild Card spot in the NL. However, he’s also gotten into an altercation with a fan that resulted in a three-game suspension.
O’Neil hasn’t done much for a Cardinals team that was just swept by the Phillies and now owns the second worst record in the NL, behind only the Rockies.
Canha has been a boost to the Brewers’ suspect offense that ranks 25th overall in team OPS this season. They were 19th in August OPS despite scoring the 10th most runs. The Phillies will see him up close this weekend.
Grichuk just went 4-11 with a HR and two doubles against the Phillies with the Angels despite being part of the mass salary dump that resulted in Grichuk being put on waivers. It was reported on Thursday that he cleared waivers, meaning nobody, including the Phillies, elected to take him for the rest of the season at the cost of the prorated portion of his $9M salary.
Renfroe too was waived by the Angels and was claimed by the Cincinatti Reds, a team that is currently 1 GB of the final Wild Card spot in the NL.
Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make.
Taking in all this information, it's pretty easy to come to the conclusion that the Phillies made the right choice in not acquiring any of these players and rolling with what they have. Sure, Duvall would’ve been a good upgrade, but again it’s debatable whether he was ever available. But if you want to operate under the assumption he was, then that was a missed opportunity.
You could now make the argument that Grichuk was worth a waiver claim, but the Phillies will very soon already have a log jam of outfielders when Cristian Pache is activated off the IL when rosters expand today. Philadelphia doubled down on the idea that giving at bats to Pache and Rojas are better than giving one of their roster spots to Grichuk. Keep in mind that Pache is out of options and cannot be sent down to the minors without being designated for assignment and going unclaimed on waivers.
None of the players outside of Duvall offered a markedly better performance over the last month than the Phillies got from Rojas and Cave. They certainly were not good enough of an upgrade when you factor in the prospect capital that would have been used to acquire them in one of the biggest seller’s markets in years.