With expectations of a free agency frenzy at the start of the annual MLB Winter Meetings, things have been relatively quiet across the league. There have been a few big moves- Corbin to Washington , Segura to Philly, Eovaldi back in Boston- but the big fish are still on the market. Prized free-agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are expected to be patient in their approach towards inking some of the largest MLB contracts to date, which could make the Phillies look towards the trade market to improve the team.
Well-documented and publicly-known is the Phils’ interest in studs Machado and Harper, but GM Matt Klentak has been adamant that the franchise will not sit idly by as they await one of them to make a decision. Fortunately for Klentak, there is quite a bit of talent on the trading block at the moment- many for prices within the team’s range. Without any further adieu, Jonny and I present six trade scenarios the Phillies could execute at the 2018 Winter Meetings:
Following the signing of Andrew McCutchen on Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported that the Phillies were looking to trade one of their young outfielders, and with that they were discussing their top prospect, Sixto Sanchez, in trade talks.
Sanchez is the Phillies best pitching prospect in the past decade, and his incredibly high ceiling make him hard to trade in any deal. If, however, Sanchez is actually being discussed in trades, it is probably for someone with more value than Kluber or Bauer. And this is where former MVP third-baseman Kris Bryant comes in.
It is hard to think of a scenario where the Cubs, who are still very much in the mix in the NL Central, would trade on of their best players. But, amid reports last year that Bryant turned down a mega-extension from the club, there is the slim chance that the Cubs move him for value now rather than letting him walk for nothing as a free-agent following the 2021 season. The addition of Kris Bryant to the Phillies would improve the team greatly. Bryant presents a clear upgrade at third-base over Maikel Franco, and his bat can be placed directly into the middle of the lineup. In his four seasons, Bryant has a career OPS+ of 137, and even following a down year in 2018, he would likely be the best bat in the lineup.
Beyond his impact to the offense, the addition of Bryant would attract free-agent Bryce Harper, who is good friends with Bryant. Adding Bryant and Harper in the same offseason would be expensive, both in the cost of prospects and money, but it would immediately make the Phillies a favorite in the national league.
Phillies Acquire: 3B Kris Bryant
Cubs Acquire: SP Sixto Sanchez, 3B Maikel Franco, P JoJo Romero, OF Mickey Moniak
Corey Kluber/Trevor Bauer
The question is not whether the Indians will trade one of the pitchers atop of its rotation, but which one they will trade. Several reports have indicated that the Indians, a traditionally small market team, intend to trade one of Kluber or Bauer during the offseason in an effort to save money. The biggest current need for Cleveland, a team still planning to contend in 2019, is outfield help, which the Phillies can provide, especially after signing Andrew McCutchen on Tuesday.
Kluber, 31, is locked up for three more years at roughly $17 million per year. The right-hander won the Cy Young Award in 2014 and 2017 and will immediately give the Phillies a nasty pairing at the top of the rotation with Kluber and Aaron Nola.
Bauer is somewhat of a different story, as he is entering the prime of his career and has just one elite level season under his belt. The 27-year old was fast-tracked to the majors after being drafted 3r d overall in the 2011 MLB Draft, and has slowly improved every season before becoming one of the best pitchers in the majors in 2018. Bauer has two years left in arbitration until he is an unrestricted free-agent in 2020, and unlike Kluber, he is just entering his prime. The drawback with Bauer, however, is he has no interest in signing an extension of any kind, so the Phillies can only count on him for two years with no chance at locking him up before he hits free-agency.
So what does a trade for one of these guys look like? Both probably start with Zach Eflin and Odubel Herrera on the Phillies end, as Cleveland will look to get a replacement starter and a starting outfielder. Eflin and Herrera certainly fit the bill here, and their ages (24 and 27, respectively) give the Indians two young, controllable pieces that can contribute on a playoff team. The tricky part is what else has to be added here.
To get the deal done or Bauer, it likely has to be the Phillies second best pitching prospect, 21-year old Adonis Medina:
Phillies acquire: SP Trevor Bauer
Indians acquire: SP Adonis Medina, SP Zach Eflin, OF Odubel Herrera
Kluber holds a bit of extra value over Bauer because of the extra year, so the Phillies throw in a bit more for him in the form of their third best pitching prospect:
Phillies acquire: SP Corey Kluber
Indians acquire: Medina, Eflin, Herrera, JoJo Romero
Now, here is where things get fun. It’s been said the Indians don’t plan on trading both Kluber and Bauer. But what if they got a deal they just couldn’t pass up? This is a win now, save money, and plan for the future trade for the Indians; and it gives the Phillies the best rotation in baseball:
Phillies Acquire: Bauer, Kluber
Marlins Acquire: Vince Velasquez, Sixto Sanchez, Adam Haseley, Indians Acquire (something like): Odubel Herrera, Zach Eflin, JoJo Romero, JT Realmuto
SP Archie Bradley
The small-market Arizona Diamondbacks are clearly entering somewhat of a rebuild, as they have traded their best position player in franchise history, Paul Goldschmidt, to the St Louis Cardinals in return for three young, major league ready prospects. They have also already lost their ace, Patrick Corbin, to the Washington Nationals in free-agency, and will likely also lose star-outfielder AJ Pollock as well.
The D-Backs, who have been rumored to be looking to rid of former Cy Young winner Zack Grienke as well, could fit with the Phillies in a trade for a reliever. While the Phillies have already added relief help through trade, they still could use a versatile shut-down reliever, especially considering the way bullpens are used in today’s game. And 26-year old Archie Bradley could fit the bill perfectly.
Bradley, who started in 2016 before being converted a reliever full-time, was an elite-level reliever in 2017 before taking a step back last season. Bradley sports a live fastball that can touch 99 on the gun and a curveball, both considered plus to elite level pitches since he was a prospect.
The biggest change from 2017 to 2018 was an increase in fly balls against Bradley, which led to an increase in home runs and an overall weaker year. The stuff, however, is still there, and the Phillies should take a flier on Bradley, who is controllable through 2022, if the price is right. In this trade, the Phillies send the D-Backs pitching prospect JoJo Romero and 21-year old shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa in return for the reliever.
Phillies Acquire: Archie Bradley
Diamondbacks Acquire: JoJo Romero and Arquimedes Gamboa
As Jonny mentioned earlier in the piece, the Phillies have a strong desire to upgrade the third base position from the Maikel Franco/Carlos Santana platoon from a season ago. Franco and Santana, to their credit, are solid offensive options, but they aren’t elite in that regard and also leave much to be desired defensively. Klentak and Co. want to give sophomore skipper Gabe Kapler a difference maker to man the hot corner, and Colorado Rockies star 3B Nolan Arenado certainly fits the bill. I wrote about how the Phillies and Rockies match up well as potential trading partners in my offseason outlook piece a couple days ago:
The Rockies are coming off a nice season, finishing just one game behind the NL West Champion Dodgers and earning a wild card spot, but probably won’t be able to retain Arenado when he hits free agency next season. Trading him seems almost inevitable, as they don’t want him to walk without getting anything in return, and they may not want to endure all the rumors that will surround the franchise leading up to the July trade deadline. Klentak and Co. could swoop in and try to make the Rockies an offer they can’t refuse for Arenado instead of getting involved in a bidding war in the summer. A package headlined by RHP Zach Elfin, RHP Adonis Medina, 3B Maikel Franco, and OF Mickey Moniak could entice the Colorado brass.
The price for Arenado will certainly be steep, but would be a worthy investment as he would give the Phils another franchise cornerstone to build their dynasty around. He is an absolute wizard defensively and gives opposing pitchers headaches with his offensive prowess.
Phillies Acquire: 3B Nolan Arenado
Rockies Acquire: SP Zach Eflin, SP Adonis Medina, 3B Maikel Franco, and OF Mickey Moniak/OF Odubel Herrera
Despite finishing with an uncharacteristic 5.54 ERA last season, the 27-year old righty Marcus Stroman could be sneaky good addition to the Phillies rotation. Stroman would be no more than a #3 pitcher in the City of Brotherly Love, which would suit his skillset a lot better than being the de facto ace in Toronto. Speaking of his skillset, Stroman is much more talented and productive than his 2018 ERA would lead you to believe. The New York native is a relentless competitor that keeps his opponents off balance with his arsenal of six different pitches.
There are some that believe that batters may have finally caught on to Stroman last season, but I view it as more of an outlier campaign. Still, because of his poor performance the Blue Jays may be more inclined to move the productive starter, and the Phils may be able to snag him for a discounted rate. I wouldn’t offer any big-time prospects, but a modest offer for a player of Stroman’s caliber could end up paying huge dividends for the Phillies in 2019.
Phillies Acquire: SP Marcus Stroman
Blue Jays Acquire: SP Jerad Eickhoff, SP Nick Pivetta, OF Aaron Altherr
Infamous NL East rivals Miami Marlins have made their desire to trade All-Star catcher J.T Realmuto clear at the Winter Meetings and the market for the talented backstop’s services is heating up. The Yankees, Mets, Braves, Reds, and Phillies, among others, reportedly all have varying levels of interest in Realmuto. While the Braves and Mets are currently viewed as favorites in the Realmuto sweepstakes, the Phillies definitely have the prospects in place to strike a deal.
I’m not a huge supporter of a potential trade for the Marlins catcher, as I think Jorge Alfaro will be a fine player for the Phils, but it’s not hard to see why the team is interested. Last season, Realmuto ranked top five among catchers in hits, doubles, triples, and home runs en route to his first All-Star selection. It’s rare to find a backstop that can contribute to that degree offensively, and the Phillies could certainly use his production in the heart of the lineup. Getting him won’t be cheap, but it may be worth the price to weaken the Marlins while simultaneously improving the team and keeping him away from the rival Mets and Braves.
Phillies Acquire: J.T Realmuto
Marlins Acquire: C Jorge Alfaro, SP Adonis Medina, SP Nick Pivetta, OF Adam Haseley
Since the Phillies rebuild began following the 2013 season, the team has been stockpiling valuable pieces and built a respectable farm system. With big goals in sight, now is the time for Matt Klentak and co. to fully commit to winning in 2019. Now is the time to do so, and if any of the opportunities above present themselves, the Phillies must pounce.
Writers: Jalyn Smoot & Jonny Heller
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports