Trade Deadline Day can be such a stressful time for a number of executives as they try to make the right move for the team’s future or it’s present. On a day we have seen the Dodgers and Yankees beef up their rotations with Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray respectively, and a whole other bevy of minor moves, one had to wonder if the Phillies would make another move. On Wednesday, they would trad All-Star reliever Pat Neshek. On Friday they traded Howie Kendrick and Jeremy Hellickson in two separate deals to the Nationals and Orioles, respectively. So what was left? Among their rentals, they still had Daniel Nava and Joaquin Benoit. In the “controllable players who were blocking top prospects” category, they had Cesar Hernandez, Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis. The Phillies were playing at 12:35 pm today vs the Braves, so #HugWatch was in effect. Many of us were wondering why Benoit was not closing and why the team used Hector Neris for a third straight day. And then after the Phillies held off the Braves to win their fifth straight, Pete Mackanin dropped a little tease.
The next thing we know, Benoit was seen giving hugs and handshakes in the locker room. And then we found out where Benoit was going.
Now Benoit’s season was not going to fetch an organization’s top 30 prospect, but the Phillies got a good depth arm to take a flier on. McGarry, an 8th round pick of the Pirates in 2015, has had a heck of a season in the bullpen at high A Bradenton. In 31 appearances, he’s compiled a 1.34 ERA, 0.84 WHIP 38/14 K/BB and a .144 opp AVG in 40.1 IP. His splits are also very good this season: vs RH: 80 batters faced, .099/.200/.113, 18/5 K/BB; vs LH: 78 batters faced, .197/.299/.273, 20/9 K/BB. His splits in previous years are not as favorable, but it definitely looks like he’ll be able to get RH hitters. The thing that got Matt Klentak giddy was his 73.2% ground ball rate this season. Even going back to his first two seasons where he was a starter in 2015, reliever in 2016, his ground ball rate was around 54%. He’s more of a pitch to contact guy who throws in the 91-94 mph range. He apparently topped 97 as an amateur and has that potential, but hasn’t reached it really in the pros. In a scouting report from Perfect Game in 2015, he throws a low 80s slider that has good late two plane bite when he has a feel for it. He also mixes in a fringe average change-up. This is a nice flier to take for an aging reliever who underperformed.
So let’s recap the last week for the Phillies. In the span of six days, they ended up trading four expiring contracts and took back an expiring contract (Hyun Soo Kim), six prospects and $1 million in international bonus pool money. The bonus pool money will go a long way in satisfying their remaining international amateurs’ signing bonuses and other players who the Phillies may want to sign over this amateur period. Among those six prospects they acquired three relievers (JD Hammer, Garrett Cleavinger, McGarry), two projectable starters (McKenzie Mills, Alejandro Requena) and a utility infielder (Jose Gomez). While Gomez and Mills show the most potential, all of these prospects are expected to be organizational depth guys. The big key is that none of these prospects are subject to being eligible for the Rule 5 draft except Gomez, and there’s no way he will be selected out of A ball by another team. So the prospects the Phillies added save them 40 man roster space for more important Rule 5 eligible players next season. Other than Michael Saunders (DFA’d), Klentak was able to flip all of his “big” offseason acquisitions and received an optimal return and a good situation without receiving a high risk, high reward type of prospect.
So what’s next with the non-waiver trade deadline now coming to a close. Well first the Phillies have an open 40 man spot and open spot on the 25 man roster currently. As discussed over the last couple of weeks, Yacksel Rios needs to be added this offseason to the 40 man to avoid the Rule 5. While he’s still very raw, he can throw 95-97 with a potentially above average slider. Right now the Phillies bullpen is wiped out after the last few days and the team can’t call-up Ricardo Pinto for a few more days after sending him down last Tuesday (required to wait 10 days). The only other current relief option on the 40 man roster that makes sense is Alberto Tirado, who’s struggling in Reading right now. So with all this in mind it’s the perfect opportunity to add Rios to the 40 man and have him join the team in Anaheim tomorrow.
Then we still have the August waiver trade period, where mainly rentals or expensive contracts go through the waiver wire for contending teams to add a little extra depth. In the Phillies case they have one guy who a number of teams will like for a bench bat in 1B/OF Daniel Nava, who has had a tremendous season. It’s highly possible the Phillies could get another organizational depth player for him. I would expect that a most of the players on this roster will likely not go through the waiver wire process. Obviously a number of fans would like to see Tommy Joseph be put on the waiver wire and at least attempt to negotiate with a team and free Rhys Hoskins, but I doubt we will see that happen. I still think Rhys will join the big club in September because he deserves it, but this will lead to a very interesting winter.
Aside from the fact we expect the Phillies to go after a talented player via trade or free agency, right now arguably three of the Phillies top five prospects are being blocked by players who are having productive seasons. Currently, the Phillies have a battle at 1B (Joseph/Hoskins), 2B (Hernandez/Kingery) and SS (Galvis/Crawford). Right now SS seems to be okay, as JP could use a bit more time in AAA even if he finishes strong. That way the Phillies could stagger his free agency from other young players until May and then have Galvis play a utility rule. Hoskins and Kingery have warranted the right to compete for the Opening Day roster. Hoskins is projected to be better than Joseph and I see a trade coming in the winter. 2B is trickier, because even though I believe Kingery is the better player long term, the Phillies need to get the right value for Hernandez because he currently is an above average 2B. I do think one of Galvis or Hernandez will move before Opening Day and I have a feeling it’ll be Cesar because the market was there the previous offseason.
We are a few months away from worrying about these things daily. But for now, we don’t have to worry about making another a ton of August trades really. We can kick back and relax and just enjoy the development of this organization as they build towards being contenders again.