The Philadelphia Phillies are in first place thanks in large part to what Matt Klentak has built in the offseason. However, injuries to the bullpen and the outfield have depleted the Phillies roster. It’s time to go out and make moves if the team believe a Championship run is possible.
The loss of Andrew McCutchen for the season could not have come at a worse time. Right after the Herrera incident, Klentak seems to right the ship by acquiring Jay Bruce. The injury forced Klentak to call up star prospect Adam Haseley. Now the depleted outfield needs help as does the pitching.
The trade for Jay Bruce
Klentak started off the trading season by acquiring Bruce from a floundering Seattle Mariners. Bruce brought over a .212 average at the time of the trade and Phillies fans were grumbling. Lost in the low average was the fact that Bruce was on a tear. In his last ten games with the Mariners, he batted .294, bringing his season average up from .185 to .212. Bruce also raised his slugging percentage .496 to .533. He also hit 14 homers and drove in 26 runs.
In two starts with the Phillies, Bruce has been superb. He’s hitting .545 with three homers and 7 RBI. Klentak seemed to have gotten Bruce as a hitter off the bench. The deal was amazing as Bruce has two years left on his contract. It also stated that the Mariners would pay the majority of his contract, only costing the Phillies $2.75 million over the next two seasons. For that type of deal, Klentak gave up minor league third baseman, Jake Scheiner. As of today, it seems that Klentak absolutely fleeced Seattle.
Adam Haseley Makes His Debut
With Roman Quinn still injured, Klentak turned to one of the Phillies top prospects, Adam Haseley. Haseley had just recently made his AAA Lehigh Valley debut and was awesome. In six games he batted .320 with 4 RBI.
Now, it appears that the center field is now in the hands of you, Haseley. The 8th overall pick in 2017 has gone 1 for 7 with a walk and a key RBI in his first two starts. Haseley doesn’t seem that the stage is too much for him. for now the University of Virginia product has the reins at center field to win the job. But with the injuries and suspension, you have to think Klentak will look to add a veteran outfielder to the roster. The Haseley promotion also seems to have closed the book on Nick Williams.
Possible non-rental trade targets
The Royals are a team that should definitely be ready to deal and hopefully, Klentak has already picked up the phone and asked about Whit Merrifield. Merrifield is known mainly as an infielder, however, he has experience in playing the outfield. Also, he is batting .294 with 4 homers, 41 runs scored, 28 RBI and a .343 on-base percentage. Merrifield is under contract through 2022 and would cost the Phillies $16.25 Million. Klentak should be seeing what the Royals asking price is.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a couple of players who could interest Klentak. It will be interesting to see what the D-Backs do. They are sitting one game below .500 having lost 7 of their last 10. They are currently in the midst of the wild-card race. However, Klentak needs to be on the phone.
Ketle Marte is a versatile player who is young and can play both the infield and outfield. He is under contract through 2022 with club options for 2023 and 2024. Marte is batting .270 with 14 home runs, 36 runs scored and 41 RBI. The 25-year-old Dominican born player could be a nice bat off of the bench or add some power to the back end of the line-up.
Starling Marte is another option, considering Pirates log jam of outfielders. He is under contract through 2019 with club options for 2020 and 2021. Marte is batting .279 with 7 homers, 35 runs, and 26 RBI. Marte is a former teammate of McCutchen and on paper seems to be a similar type player. However, the Pirates suspended Marte in 2017 for testing positive for PEDs.
Continue to build for the future
These potential targets are not rental players. They will also most likely provide a more expensive option. However, I believe that the moves Klentak makes need to be focused on building for the future. Simply making a trade for a player who’s contract expires doesn’t make sense. The first place Phillies are a little ways off of adopting the “win now” approach.
Klentak also needs to add pitching depth, so the above-mentioned players may be out of the mix due to a high asking price, but it’s a balance. Somehow, he needs to exercise patience while adding the best pieces for the team moving forward. That’s why he gets paid the big bucks…
Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports