The Phillies are approaching their 100th game on the season, the MLB All-Star game has passed, and August is on the horizon. That means one thing – it is wheelin’ and dealin’ season in Major League Baseball.
With the increase in the number of teams making the postseason, there are more teams than ever who feel with the right move – they too can scrape into the playoffs and go on a miracle run similar to the Philadelphia Phillies last season.
Those Phillies have plenty of firepower on the roster as-is, even if several players aren’t playing to their potential. With some changes to the roster over the weekend and the debut of Bryce Harper playing first base going as great (and scary) as possible – the Phillies have started to narrow their needs prior to the August 1 deadline.
Will President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski look to make an impact move, or will he take a similar approach to last season and try to fill some holes in the margins? Let’s take a look at some major and minor options for the Phillies in the next week and a half.
Potential Phillies impact moves
Dombrowski is known for making big moves during his career. Whether that be in free agency, or the trade market, the Phillies front office is ready to make a move when they like someone. Philadelphia is barely in a playoff spot at the moment and are what feels like lightyears away from catching the Atlanta Braves for the division crown. If Phillies management decides they want to separate themselves from the Wild Card pack, here are some options:
Shohei Ohtani, Starting Pitcher/DH – Los Angeles Angels
Let’s get this one out of the way first. I do not think there is any chance that the Phillies trade for Ohtani. But, I would be a fool to not entertain the possibility. As the Angels continue to falter through injuries and, well, being the Angels – it is becoming more realistic that the pending free agent and greatest talent the sport has ever seen gets moved before July is done.
If he is truly made available, there will be 29 offers sent to the Angels so, despite him being a rental, you will need to overpay. And it makes sense since it’s more like trading for two rentals who are both top-10 pitchers and hitters, but only takes up one roster spot.
A reason why the Phillies should really consider trading top-level talent, even without a guarantee of Ohtani staying in Philadelphia, is what he can do for the rest of the rotation. The two-way player has been pitching every sixth day, as opposed to every fifth. If they move to a semi-six-man rotation, that would lead to getting extra days of rest for the struggling aces of the staff – Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. The extra rest could allow them to shake off some of the cob webs and get themselves right before October arrives.
The Phillies do not have as deep of a farm system as one might need to acquire Ohtani, but they are top-heavy. The Angels will likely need top prospects and MLB-ready talent in return. The Phillies could package two of their top three pitching prospects, Mick Abel and Griff McGarry, along with centerfielder Johan Rojas to help the Angels manage Mike Trout’s injuries moving forward.
The Phillies would likely have to add a lower-level prospect and/or a player to be named later to sweeten the deal, but it would be well worth it. This would be similar to the return that the Nationals got when moving Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers (Scherzer was a rental, Turner had an additional year of team control and they cost more than Shohei will).
The club would also need to find a new home for outfielder/DH Kyle Schwarber – maybe sending him to a contender that is struggling offensively and has pitching like Cleveland or Seattle. Regardless, those three prospects headlining a deal would put them in contention for two months of the best player the diamond has ever seen.
Lucas Giolito, Starting Pitcher & Joe Kelly, Relief Pitcher – Chicago White Sox
One would assume that the White Sox are ready to have as close to a ‘fire sale’ as possible leading up to August 1. They currently sit at 41-58, 10 games back in the lowly AL Central. With 11 players who are either pending free agents or have options coming up this off-season, Giolito might be the biggest prize of them all.
The pending free agent is an inning eater and is a few years removed from receiving Cy Young award votes in three consecutive seasons. His 3.96 ERA and 1.198 WHIP this season may not jump off the page, but his age and his history of being very effective will have many teams inquiring about his services.
Any team will have to be on the hook for the remaining $3.5 million he is owed in 2023. Add in the veteran reliever, Kelly, who has been a champion and knows how to pitch in pressure situations and you add length and depth to your pitching which has dealt with injuries all season long. Plus, I think Joe might be a little crazy and his attitude would fit the team and the city perfectly.
Philadelphia would have to give up a few prospects, maybe more than you would expect with many teams vying for his services. A package that includes outfielder Justin Crawford and starting pitcher Hans Crouse, and a PTBNL would keep Philly firmly in the mix.
Realistic trades for the Phillies
Last season, Dombrowski avoided making the splashy move at the deadline. They did make a move to reunite with reliever David Robertson from the Cubs, and made two separate trades with the Angels to bring in starter Noah Syndergaard and center fielder Brandon Marsh.
The Phillies have already made clear some of their plans, noting that a right-handed bat is a priority. With that in mind, and needing length in the rotation for the regular season, let’s take a look at some moves that can replicate the 2022 approach.
Teoscar Hernandez, Left Fielder – Seattle Mariners
Seattle fans may think this is preemptive, but the Mariners are middling – just one game over .500 as of writing. They sit at 8.5 games back in the division, and 4.5 games out of the wildcard. However, they would have to hop a few teams with others right around them hoping to do the same. With a tough division, do they think a retooling could work? If so, the expiring contract of Hernandez is an obvious move to make.
Looking at last season, Joey Gallo was having a similar impact power wise as Hernandez is. Trading a prospect in the same class as the return the Yankees received last year is a good measuring stick. The Phillies could move pitcher Andrew Baker who is currently in reading in bring in a short term piece to go in left field now that Schwarber will see more opportunities at DH. Hernandez is a solid fielder, and is sitting at .247/.300/.430 with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs.
Hunter Renfroe, Outfield & Brandon Drury, Infield- Los Angeles Angels
Renfroe is almost guaranteed to be traded, unless the Angels rebound in the next week and a half. The pending free agent can play a solid left field, and has a history of hitting the ball out of the park. The 31-year-old has hit 31 and 29 homeruns in his last two seasons, and has 15 dingers so far in 2023.
Drury is a stretch since he has another year of team control and has been playing more than the Phillies roster would allow him to this and next season, but is a strong target due to his flexibility in the field and the pop in his bat. Drury had a breakout season last year, hitting 28 balls that found their way to the stands for runs. He has mostly played first and second for the Angels this season, but played third and some outfield last season.
He could usurp Sosa as the primary option at third on days where Harper needs a rest or DHs and Bohm moves over to first. The utility man signed a 2 year, $17 million deal prior to this season and is currently hitting .277/.322/.500 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs. He is currently on the injured list, but would be an attractive piece if the Angels go into sell mode
A package of infielder Hao-Yu Lee, Johan Rojas, and pitcher Orion Kerkering with a PTBNL or international signing money could be enough to give you the right-handed outfielder the Phillies need in Renfroe and thump off the bench with semi-regular playing time for Drury.
Ryan Yarbrough, Starting Pitcher & Jordan Lyles, Starting Pitcher – Kansas City Royals
The Phillies have dealt with struggles and injuries in the rotation all season. As injuries in rotations become more common across the board, some times a team needs able-bodied men as opposed to top-tier pitchers. This trade idea give the Fightin’s just that.
Yarbrough has recently come back from a scary injury, but is a seasoned veteran who has been a starter and long-reliever during his career. He even has postseason experience during his time with the Rays, pitching to the tune of a 3.08 ERA in 8 playoff appearances. His flexibility would add length to the rotation and he could even slide to the bullpen as the long-man during the postseason. Lyles is more of a buy-low candidate for depth. His contract does extend to next year, so he will provide added depth into next year.
The Phillies won’t have to give up as much if they take on all of the remaining money owed to Lyles. I would predict a deal involving Carlos de la Cruz or Simon Muzziotti, Kerkering, and maybe Luis Ortiz or a PTBNL getting the job done with the Phillies taking on all the money owed to the veteran starters.
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