MLB Trade Deadline Matchmaker: Four Fits for the Phillies

MLB: JUN 24 Cubs at Dodgers
LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 24: Craig Kimbrel (46) of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the ninth inning on June 24, 2021 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA.(Photo by John McCoy/Icon Sportswire)

Following the implosion of the Tyler Anderson deal, the Phillies need to move fast.

After seemingly securing a rotation replacement for either Vince Velasquez or Matt Moore, health concerns regarding one of the two Phillies prospects set to ship to Pittsburgh halted the transaction with Anderson landing in Seattle just around midnight on Tuesday.

So, with just a few days until the July 30th MLB Trade Deadline, and options ever-limited, let’s take a look at four potential fits for the Phillies as they desperately attempt to claw their way into the NL East’s top spot.

We will begin with pitching.

Merrill Kelly – Arizona Diamondbacks – SP

Most Recent Historical Comparison:

SP J.A. Happ from the Toronto Blue Jays to the New York Yankees for 3B Brandon Drury & OF Billy McKinney (12th ranked Yankees prospect) in 2018.

Although the owner of a 4.18 ERA, Happ ended his Toronto career as an All-Star, wherein lies the difference. Happ was a bit older than Kelly, at 35 and a splashier name at the time, but had similar numbers before making the jump to the Big Apple. His 1.3 WAR for the first half of 2018 ranks close to Kelly’s 1.7 in 2020 thus far.

How Much Will It Cost:

In a year where starting pitching was scarce, Happ was considered one of the best available options on the market. Not so different from where we are today unless you want to shell out for José Berríos or Max Scherzer (unlikely).

Kelly comes with control through 2022, so although his numbers don’t jump off the page, you’re betting on him finding his groove with a couple of years of MLB experience under his belt. If we’re still using Happ as a general comp, the Phillies could probably get this done straight up for OF Mickey Moniak.

Now, Moniak might seem like a lot to give up, but when you look at the market, you will need to overpay for starting pitching right now, even someone with a career ERA of 4.24.


Worth it. Following the disastrous loss of Anderson this week, the Phillies need to do everything in their power to upgrade the backend of this staff.

Kris Bryant – Chicago Cubs – 3B/OF

Most Recent Historical Comparison:

OF/DH J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dawel Lugo (SS/2B – 4th ranked prospect), Sergio Alcantara (SS/2B – 15th ranked prospect), and Jose King (SS/2B) in 2017.

Martinez missed six weeks at the beginning of 2017 but came back in a big way, slashing .305/.388/.630 in the first half for the Tigers. Ultimately, Detroit shipped him to Arizona for two prospects ranked in the top-15 of the Diamondbacks organization. Bryant’s 2.3 WAR is just a touch higher than Martinez’s 2.2 back then; however, you’re likely looking at a similar haul.

How Much Will It Cost:

We can start with dollars and cents. The remaining salary on Bryant’s $19.5MM deal will likely fall on the shoulders of Philadelphia, pushing them over the luxury tax considering they only have about $4.5MM left to spend.

In terms of bodies, Alec Bohm likely makes this package as an immediate replacement for the Cubs at third, but following a lackluster sophomore campaign, it’s going to take more.

Rafael Marchan, the Phillies’ 4th ranked prospect, could be another solid piece for a team looking for depth at catcher. Marchan’s certainly expendable given the presence of J.T. Realmuto.


Worth it. I think the Phillies could get this done with the MLB-ready Bohm, Marchan, and a lower-level starting pitching prospect, given this would be just a half-season rental. Again, you’re probably going to have to overpay, so I wouldn’t be shocked if a name like Adonis Medina gets thrown around.

That said, it’s frightening to imagine this Phillies group with Bryant dropped in the middle. If they strike out on starting pitching, they might as well go all-in on offense.

Bryant’s certainly ready for an answer.

Craig Kimbrel – Chicago Cubs – CP

Most Recent Historical Comparison:

CP Aroldis Chapman from New York Yankees to Chicago Cubs for RP Adam Warren and prospects SS Gleyber Torres (24th ranked prospect in MLB), OF Billy McKinney (5th ranked prospect in the organization), and OF Rashad Crawford.

Even Aroldis Chapman’s 2017 ERA of 2.01 looks pedestrian next to Kimbrel’s 0.49, and the haul was ungodly at the time. A major league reliever plus two top-five prospects as a package isn’t even something the Phillies could compete with now.

How Much Will It Cost:

See above. Unlike Chapman back then, Kimbrel is locked in for an entire season after this year. So for context, whatever the Yankees gave up, the Phillies would likely need something sweeter. You can say goodbye to at least two top-ten prospects within the organization, presumably including 2nd-ranked Phillies prospect and shortstop Bryson Stott.

Even still, that may not be enough. Whoever lands Kimbrel will pay for it.


Not worth it. The Phillies farm system isn’t exactly known for its depth, and I’m not sure a 33-year-old closer in the middle of a career year is worth leveraging the future for a club struggling to hang around .500.

Whit Merrifield – Kansas City Royals – 2B/OF

Most Recent Historical Comparison:

IF Eduardo Escobar from Minnesota Twins to Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Ernie De La Trinidad, and OF Gabriel Maciel in 2018.

Although Escobar’s contract was expiring, and Miguel Sanó was nipping at his heels, this trade was highway robbery. Merrifield’s 2.2 WAR comes pretty close to Escobar’s 2.6 as a Twin in 2018, but the Kansas City product has two cheap years of control after this season. Time is money.

How Much Will It Cost:

Merrifield currently leads the Royals in hits (107), doubles (23), and stolen bases (25). That’s a lot to give up, even for a team 16.0 games out of first place in the AL Central.

Face value, this remains quite a longshot. More than likely, the Phils don’t have the pieces to get this done, but it’s also hard to see the Royals legitimately competing with Merrifield on the roster over the next few years. Would you mind crossing your fingers that they get desperate a little early?

Whatever package likely needs to include at least two top-ten prospects, so how about OF Adam Hasely, RHP Mick Abel (1st overall prospect), and SS Luis Garcia (5th overall prospect).

Worth mentioning, Merrifield isn’t as young as you think. 32-years should be factored into any negotiations.


If they will, the Phillies should. It would be a lot to give up, but you’re adding another body to this roster that can play all over the diamond. You’re also adding another threat on the base pads, which, quite frankly, the Phillies have been lacking.

Photo by John McCoy/Icon Sportswire