Every August 1st brings excitement and dread for sports media, mainly those in the baseball sphere. The Philadelphia Phillies are making a postseason push and without a doubt, it’s going to be a down to the deadline race as it was in 2022.
Adding (then) star shortstop Trea Turner was supposed to help but the 2023 campaign started off slower than predicted. As of the trade deadline day, the National League Wild Card race is neck and neck. The Phillies (as of this writing) have the first Wild Card spot but the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers are nipping at their heels.
A weakness for the Phillies this season has been its starting rotation. That in turn became a focus for President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski at the deadline. They also dealt away a struggling member of the bullpen.
So now that the smoke’s cleared, let’s grade how well these trades were for the boys in the City of Brotherly Love.
Phillies First Trade:
Phillies get: RHP Michael Lorenzen
Tigers get: INF Hao-Yu Lee
Adding depth to the Phillies rotation is not a bad thing. MLB Network Jon Morosi tweet out the trade earlier in the day:
It’s not a secret that the Phillies starting rotation has taken a bit of a beating aka lacking a fifth actual starter. Detroit owned not one but two decent rental pitchers on the market. They signed Lorenzen to a one-year contract and saw him develop into an All-Star for the 2023 season. He currently has a record of 5-7 with a 3.58 ERA over 105.2 IP. Lorenzen has thrown 83 strikeouts and has a 1.098 WHIP.
If this feels slightly familiar to the deadline signing of Noah Syndergaard last season, you’re correct. Lorenzen will be helpful to back up the end of the starting rotation. The quad of Ranger Suárez, Aaron Nola (who wasn’t sent away), Zack Wheeler, and Taijuan Walker are holding their own but that elusive fifth spot was being used as a bullpen game until late. Cristopher Sánchez has been relied upon as the fifth starter and overall, the Phillies’ starting rotation has one of the better league ERAs at 3.80.
There’s no doubt that Lorenzen would have a chance to slide into the third spot behind Nola and Wheeler. He’s reliable and if need be, he’s a pinch hitter or emergency outfielder should injuries arise. Suárez could go back to his hybrid role and Sánchez would be a sixth pitcher in the rotation or relief. Lorenzen isn’t a super exciting pitcher but he’s consistent. He’s like your favorite dinner you know at the end of a long day will not leave you hungry.
For Detroit, the rebuild continues. Getting Lee means the Tigers have a high-contact infielder who has primarily played second base this season. The No. 5 overall prospect is also a top prospect in the Phillies’ farm system. He’s also seen playing time at third base and shortstop. Overall, a solid piece of the Tigers rebuilding their farm system and team.
Grades: Phillies- B+, Tigers- B
Phillies Second and Final Trade:
Phillies get: IF Rodolfo Castro
Pirates get: LHP Bailey Falter
The Athletic’s Jayson Stark broke the news on Twitter:
Philadelphia is getting to add a switch-hitter with experience at three infield spots in Castro. He’s in the final option season but is struggling in 2023 compared to 2022. The 24-year-old slashed .233/.299/.427 with 11 home runs and seven doubles in 278 plate appearances. Since May of 2023, he’s hitting just .192/.271/.283 with three homers, two doubles in 133 plate appearances.
Those aren’t SPECTACULAR numbers but being a utilityman is going to be beneficial to the Phillies. Playing several infield positions will be useful as Philadelphia seems particularly injury prone in that area. There isn’t a particular long-term role for him at the moment that Philly but that role can develop.
Pittsburgh got an immediate option in the rotation in Falter. The 26-year-old isn’t playing his best this season. Falter is throwing a 5.13 ERA in 40.3 frames but has struggled both in the Majors and in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is also in the last of his three option years. For Pittsburgh, that means he needs to keep him on the Opening Day roster in 2024 or else designate him for assignment.
But moving Rich Hill to the San Diego Padres and injuries to other pitching staff means Falter is going to get a two-month trial run. He’s not a hard thrower and can be controlled for an additional five years via arbitration.
Grade: Phillies- B, Pirates- B+
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire