Many believe that the key for Phillies success in 2019 will come in the form of A) a big name bat, B) an upgrade in the rotation, and C) a bullpen piece. With all the Bryce Harper/ Manny Machado talk, we don’t need to discuss point A too much. If the Phillies don’t acquire either of them, the offseason probably would be considered a failure although there are a couple of alternatives.
On the other hand, points B and C (and subsequent lesser points) could be solved outside of the free agent market.
Buster Olney reported that the Cleveland Indians will be listening to offers on several of their veteran players.
Faced with market constraints, the Indians will listen to trade offers for some of their veteran players this winter, according to sources. Kluber, Carrasco, Encarnacion, Gomes, etc. Lindor, Ramirez will definitely be held.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 2, 2018
This mini fire sale of sorts includes several interesting names, including stud starters Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. The Phillies have the money and prospects to possibly facilitate a trade with these names or others. Let’s break down some of the trade targets shall we?
Arguably the best starter in the American League since 2014 behind Chris Sale, the 32-year-old has won 2 Cy Young Awards and has pitched over 200 innings each season since 2014. He led the AL in innings pitched (215) and walk rate (1.4 per 9) in 2018. He was a 20 game winner in 2018 and is only a year removed from posting a 2.25 ERA over a full season.
Kluber is set to make $17 million in 2019, almost a $7 million increase from 2018. Since money seems to be the problem in Cleveland, the Indians could reluctantly trade the ace. The fact that he’ll cost a pretty penny is a foregone conclusion, but could you imagine Aaron Nola and Corey Kluber going back to back? They are pretty much the closest you would get to a modern Hamels Halladay combo.
Since the Indians seem semi-desperate for money, the Phillies could not even have to part with coveted prospect Sixto Sanchez if they eat the whole contract. It all depends if teams like the Padres, White Sox, or Braves *shiver* decide to part with 1 or 2 of their Top 100 rated prospects.
The sweetest part of acquiring Kluber is that he has team options of $17.5 million in 2020 and $18 million in 2021, both of which are under the league average salary.
The former Phillies farmhand is just as valuable as a trade piece. While not as flashing as Kluber, Carrasco would still cost a pretty penny. In 2018, Carrasco went 17-10 with a 3.38 ERA with 2 CGs and 231 Ks. Like Kluber, he’s been very consistent since 2014. His season averages are 14-9 with a 3.27 ERA, 171 IP, and 193 Ks. That would comfortably fit right behind Aaron Nola in the rotation.
Carrasco would make about $8 million less than Kluber making the likelihood of the Indians wanting to trade him lessened. He would still cost one of the Phillies top 100 prospects.
Gomes doesn’t fit our A, B, or C description of Phillies’ needs, but he could fit regardless. Wilson Ramos will most likely not be back with the Phillies in 2019. Yan Gomes had his best statistical season in 2018. He batted .266 with 16 HR and 48 RBI, but it’s his stats from the last 2 months of the season that could be the most interesting. Between August and September, Gomes hit .320 with a .508 Slugging Percentage. He was a 2.6 WAR player with plus defense. Splitting time with Jorge Alfaro could be a great strategy for the Phillies.
Gomes is making just over $7 million in the 2019 season and has team options for 2020 and 2021.
I know. I know. Brad Hand isn’t even included in the players listed by Buster Olney. Hand’s contract increases from $4 to $7 million in 2019 which, if the desired budget cut be true, makes him a cuttable asset that will also bring back talent.
Hand was an All-Star in 2017 and in 2018 with a 2.15 and 2.75, respectively. Most impressively, he’s struck out over 100 batters in the previous 3 seasons. The impact he’d have on the Phillies bullpen would be undeniable.
The cost for Hand might be higher than you think. The Indians’ bullpen was a dumpster fire in the first half of the 2018 season and trading their best reliever would be a solid question mark. It might take a major league relief pitcher plus a prospect to get Hand.
It’s no doubt the Phillies need a “Hand” in the bullpen.
……I’m so sorry. I couldn’t help myself.
If the Phillies used their $$$ assets to their advantage, maybe they could drive down the cost of any possible prospect package. This would be best done if the Phillies acquired multiple higher money players. It might also mean taking on a so-called “bad” contract.
Jason Kipnis hasn’t been the offensive cog that he used to be pre-2017. Between 2017 and 2018, Kipnis only hit .231 in 866 ABs with 30 HR. His contract is arguably the worst on the Indians’ roster. He’ll be making almost $15 million in 2019 and isn’t really helping anymore. If the Phillies agreed to take his contract and make him a 4th outfielder/backup 2nd baseman, they might be able to get things cooking.
As of now, all of this possibility hinges on Olney’s report. Right now it just adds a second level of intrigue to the Phillies offseason storyline. One can only hope the Phillies could add some of these battle-tested players.
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports