Yesterday there was a lot of buzz about trades, pitchings, and a certain left handed starter. I have a lot of thoughts that I will ramble on about with no real coherent end point, so it is probably best to not think about finding a big message here. These range from thoughts on Amaro’s asking price to just the process of waiting. I have divided them into vague topics, but
1. The Trade Requests
Jon Heyman laid out the apparent asking prices in a piece yesterday, and unsurprisingly Amaro is asking for a lot, but I don’t think it is unreasonable, but here they are:
Red Sox: Start with Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart
Rangers: Jorge Alfaro and Nomar Mazara
Cardinals: Carlos Martinez
Dodgers: One of Corey Seager/Julio Urias/Joc Pederson
Yankees: Aaron Judge and Luis Severino
All in all they are asking for top things here, but they are steep prices for any organization to give up, so the hesitancy is understandable. The other key thing here is the drop off after these top prospects. In the cases of the Yankees, Dodgers, and Cardinals there really is not a deal to be made without the asking price Amaro has put forth, the farm systems just can’t muster it. In the case of the Rangers, there is probably a deal that can be crafted including only one of the hitters and looking at a pitcher like Jake Thompson or Chi Chi Gonzalez as a second piece along with some talented other pieces. As for the Red Sox, I don’t think the Phillies are enamored with a packaged headlined by a non-elite pitching prospects and that is where Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, and Eduardo Rodriguez are. They are nice prospects, but they aren’t franchise pieces, enter Manny Margot who I will talk about later, who can be a hitter in the level of a Judge or Mazara who can make that secondary deal happen. The real thing here is that Amaro is being very reasonable given what he has and what other GMs have, it is a tough price to pay, but you can only pay with what you have and you can’t make a quarter into a dollar because you want a soda from the vending machine.
2. The Market
The Hamels market just continues to get better and better as pitchers get hurt or struggle. It is simple supply and demand. Right now the Reds are still in the race, the A’s aren’t out yet, the Nats are punting yet, and the AL East is still tight, so there aren’t a lot of sellers and there are a lot of teams that are still buyers. But I don’t want to talk much about that, I want to talk about the idea of trading for Cole Hamels. While he is still on the Phillies teams can continue to evaluate their teams and try internal options. The minute a team approaches the Phillies with a legitimate offer, the whole dynamic changes. At that moment all teams interested in Hamels will need to make a snap judgement on their rotation going forward, because right now there is no guarantee that another top starter will be available. The offers will increase and more teams will enter the market as judgement day approaches. The question is who makes the first move and starts the bidding war. Until then, all teams can hold the line and wait for Amaro to blink.
3. Manny Margot and Waiting
David Murphy this morning reported that Charlie Manuel would be present to watch Red Sox CF prospect Manny Margot play. Margot has long been the speculated piece in a Red Sox-Phillies deal because he combines the ceiling of Swihart with the floor of a good defensive center fielder. I talked a bit on Twitter with Marc Normandin of Over the Monster about Margot and this interaction and this feeds into some thoughts about prospects that I have had. When it comes to Margot, his stock is up right now, which means to many that Amaro missed his opportunity to buy low on Margot, however this doesn’t take into account a lot of things. The first of which is how the Red Sox valued Margot. If the Phillies loved him and thought he would be a superstar, there is a good chance the Red Sox also did, and so you weren’t getting him for cheap to begin with. We as fans often think in terms of existing Top 100 lists, but it is important to realize that each team is entirely different just like each writer has very different opinions.
The next thing I want to talk about here is safety. Since the offseason the Phillies have had 2 months to get good looks at a player like Margot, and they also have 6 months more of physical development to analyze. The end product you are buying now is more advanced than the product you knew about this offseason. You take a hit in value compared to buying the less advanced and more unknown player, but you are buying safety. If there is anything that everyone agrees on here, it is that the Phillies have to nail this trade. One option they have is to buy a bunch of lottery tickets, but it is hard to fault them for waiting a bit to see which tickets fail before looking at the rest. The Phillies aren’t trying to “win” this trade by ripping off a team like the Red Sox, they are looking to acquire players that will help them in the future without risking a zero return. It is the exact opposite of the trade of Cliff Lee to Seattle.
4. What a post trade world looks like
Something that many have asked or wondered about is where the farm system is after a Hamels trade. Let’s think about a world where Maikel Franco and Aaron Nola have not graduated. You have a system after a trade that likely has 6 or so Top 100 prospects and depending on the return it has 2 Top 20 prospects. That is probably a Top 10 farm system for me, right now. Farm system rankings aren’t everything, because major league talent matters, but a Hamels trade would complete what has been a fairly silent climb for the farm system. You throw in the #10 pick and has I said pre-season it probably stays a Top 10 system going into next year as well. The farm overall is far from a barren wasteland, but a trade would bring some notice to the current state.