Philies Trade Ken Giles for Future Pieces

(Updated 12/10 8:30am)

I don’t think the Phillies wanted to trade Ken Giles, I honestly believe that he was part of their future.  However, the market decided it had an insatiable appetite for high impact relievers and the Phillies found themselves with one of the best options.  Giles at age 25 would have been around for the other side of the rebuild, but with no value coming in 2016 on a bad team, the Phillies were able to spin him off into some added risk and added upside.  Coming back for Giles are four players lead by RHP Vincent Velasquez.  The two others are LHP Brett Oberholtzer and OF Derek Fisher with the 4th remaining a mystery, now revealed to be RHP Thomas Eshelman.

Velasquez is a solid return on his own.  The righty is only 23, throws hard (92-95 touching 98) and has a second plus pitch in his changeup.  He will mix in an average curveball giving him a complete starter’s arsenal.  The Astros rushed him to the majors last year and he pitched both in the rotation and in relief.  His ceiling is a #3 or better starter and his realistic floor is probably impact reliever.  The Phillies could start him in the major leagues or send him back to the minors to work on his command and build up his innings in a low pressure environment.  Velasquez had Tommy John surgery back in 2011 but has been arm injury free since, and there has been little to suggest he is injury risk.  Velasquez likely would slot above Jake Thompson on my Phillies prospect list if he were eligible (#3 in the system).

Oberholtzer is mostly filler here.  He is a 26 year old left handed pitcher who has split the last three years between the majors and AAA rotations.  He throws strikes, doesn’t miss a ton of bats and does a lot of #5 starter like things.    The big concern is that his velocity has dropped off each of the last three seasons to the point where he was averaging under 89 in 2015.  He likely will go into the #5 starter competition with Adam Morgan, David Buchanan, Alec Asher, and Severino Gonzalez.

Fisher is a toolys outfield tweener.  He was a first round pick of the Astros in 2014 and mashed throw low-A and hi-A (Cal League) this year.  The hit tool   is probably below average, but there is a solid approach to go with the swing and miss.  The hit tool hinders the plus raw power some, and while he is somewhere between a plus and plus plus runner he is not a center fielder long term.  His arm is also poor, which forces him to left field long term.  There is enough between the bat and the speed for him to be a regular, but he will need to prove it outside of the Cal League.  He will slot in somewhere in the 7-15 range on Phillies prospect lists.  He will join a Reading team that might be more prospect laden than the 2015 version.

Eshelman is a freak.  The scouting report does not jump off the page as none of his pitches have shown anything above average, but the #46 pick in the 2015 draft has crazy command having walked only 18 batters in 376 college innings.  There are a lot of mixed opinions on how he profiles in the major leagues.  His detractors point to a fastball that sits 89-91 and secondary pitches that won’t miss bats.  His supporters think that his command is a large enough outlier that he will succeed in the majors.  His ceiling is as a #4 starter and he will slot into the back of the Top 20 in the Phillies system.

As for who takes Giles’ place, it is almost certainly David Hernandez in the short term.  The highest upside arm in the system is Jimmy Cordero who can exceed Giles in velocity, but has yet to make the command leap that Giles did in 2014.  Other relievers like Luis Garcia and Edubray Ramos throw hard with good offspeed but they are bit behind at this point.  Other potential long term candidates include starters Nick Pivetta and Victor Arano who both throw in the mid 90s with good off speed pitches.  Both are starting for now, but could be in the bullpen mix by the time the Phillies need a closer.

Overall, Ken Giles was one of the building blocks for the next Phillies contender and they made a deal to try and turn him into multiple parts of the next contender.  I like the return in this deal a lot because Velasquez could be an impact piece going forward.  Losing Giles sucks, and it makes the 2016 Phillies a bit worse on the field and quite a bit worse in viewing enjoyment, but Matt Klentak is off to a nice start.

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman
Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.


  1. Kurdt Kobeyn

    @Matt – is Velasquez can still be considered as a prospect? My 1st reaction to the trade is “decent” return. I thought the Phils can get a Top 5 or a couple of Top 6 to 12 prospects from HOU.

    Not sure what Oberheltzer’s value – but I prefer a Low A prospect with high upside so that the Phils can use the roster spot to add another player in Rule V (i think they will draft Goedell, the hopefully Perdomo in the 2nd).

    • Velasquez exceeded rookie limits so not a prospect anymore, by most definitions used, but he does still have development to go hopefully. The Phils are going to have to jettison more guys off the 40-man if they plan to sign anyone else, as Obie + 2 Rule 5 guys would fill it up.

    • B-dog

      Kurdt- Your post was written before the Eshelman announcement, but the Giles return exceeded your wish for an Astros top 5 prospect or two top 6-12.

      Velazquez could be considered that “top 5” Astros prospect, as he was before jumping from AA to Houston last year. Preseason lists ranked Velazquez 2nd behind Correa or 3rd behind Appel, before he was so dominant in AA, he skipped AAA to start 7 games for a contender.

      Fisher and Eshelman were in that 6-12 range, or at least 8-14, as MLB had Fisher 8th and Eshelman 14th.

      Oberholzer adds little long-term value, but improved dramatically after some adjustments late last season. He may be little more than a throw in but the Phillies certainly could have used him last season. Like Velazquez, he should immediately slot into the Phillies rotation, or if they sign another starter he’ll be a useful AAAA swing man.

      • If he pitches to the top-side of his ability and stays healthy, Oberholtzer can be flipped at the trade deadline for another solid prospect approaching the level of Velasquez.

        On future closer possibilities: I think Tirado has to be on that list. He can match Giles on velocity, but more so than Cordero needs to make a jump in control.

  2. csarneson

    Didn’t the Phils screw themselves with the 40 man roster? We just added 3 guys today when we only have 2 slots. Presumably we need one more spot to open up for Goedell too.

    I’m at the point where it bugs me having Howard on the roster.

    • Matt Winkelman

      Had 3 spots, added 3, took one off, but deal is not official yet

  3. curseofthe8ball

    The biggest problem I’m having is getting my son to latch onto this team again. His fav player is Howard and he’s watched him deteroiate right in front of his eyes. Now he’s starting to pitch a lot more in little league so Hamels and Lee were his favorites, being lefty. He gravitated to Giles last season because he threw hard and had a “lock-n-load” delivery, as he called it, that he wanted to imitate. He’s 9 and is starting to understand the reasons for trades and what a rebuild is but he has noone to latch onto right now. I realize if things go right, he’ll have options but it’s tough for a 9 year old who just wants someone to watch nightly.

    He plays basketball as well but he couldn’t tell you one player on the 76ers right now now does he has an a slight interest in following them. I don’t want that to happen with this baseball team.

    • Matt Winkelman

      They aren’t going to keep shedding guys in trades, this was mostly a special case. There will be plenty of guys by years end, but guys like Franco and Nola are here for the long haul

  4. philabaltfan

    Matt, agree that the Phillies did not plan to trade Ken Giles this winter but the market changed suddenly. The return seems good for the future but Phillies fans want their favorites as the prior poster said. There will be many empty blue seats in CB Park until the Phillies start playing better and showing improvement.

    • I think your third sentence is more true than your second. The Phillies tried the nostalgia express: without the wins, we had Rollins, Utley, Ruiz, Howard, Hamels and attendance still stank. If those guys aren’t going to put the tushes in the seats, Giles plus Howard and Ruiz won’t get it done. There are going to be a ton of empty blue seats until the wins return. I am hoping that we gained WAR for 2017 and beyond with this Giles trade. In the last few years, the Phillies have shown me that they can create relievers. We traded Giles and Diekman, but we’ve got Garcia, Ramos, Pivetta, Cordero, Tirado and other guys who will convert from starting to relief. The Phillies have made signing guys who can be plus relievers a priority with their lower-$ draft and international signings and as guys to get in minor trades and throw-ins to bigger trades. It’s working. I’m convinced that they’ve learned to play this game. On the other hand, we are still short on SP, especially guys with a chance to be better than #4 starters.