July 18, 2019
UPDATE [5:17 p.m.] — According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Phillies have expressed interest in lefty Drew Smyly, who is a free agent after opting out of his minor league deal with the Brewers.
Source: Phillies have expressed interest in lefty Drew Smyly, who opted out of his minor-league deal with Brewers today and is a free agent.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) July 18, 2019
This wouldn't be a huge addition for the Phils, as Smyly, 30, went just 1-5 this season with a 8.42 ERA in nine starts (51.1 innings) for the Rangers before being released in late June. He was signed by the Brewers on July 1, but after three starts for Milwaukee's Triple-A affiliate, Smyly opted to be released.
While this might not be a season-changing move for the Phillies, it would be a way to bring in a veteran arm without having to part with any of their minor leaguers.
The Phillies have a serious issue with their pitching staff, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. And although the causes are different — with the former it was not enough help being brought in during the offseason, while the latter has been decimated by injuries — the result has been more or less the same.
The Phillies pitching is not good enough for this team to make a serious postseason run. And as those issues have contributed to more and more losses, the team has seen itself fall far enough down the standings to where it needs quite a bit of help to stay in the playoff race, possibly more than they can (or even want to) acquire at one deadline. Currently, the Phillies are 8.5 games behind the Braves (and 2 behind the Nationals) in the National League East race and are a half game out of the second NL wild card spot.
Team president Andy MacPhail said as much last week when he cautioned fans to temper their excitement ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. And this was before his team fell out of the playoff position.
“If you think that you are close to the ultimate prize and you're one piece away then your appetite for giving up something big to acquire that piece is pretty substantial,” MacPhail told reporters. “If you're a team like we are now — we're in the postseason if the season ended today, but what if we're in a one-game playoff?
“It's hard for us to make the judgment now that we're one trade away from the World Series. We don't believe that. I don't believe that. So, as a result, you're going to have to be more judicious with your playing talent.”
But MacPhail, who reportedly signed an unannounced three-year extension back in 2017 to keep him around through 2021, also said the team would certainly entertain some trade possibilities heading into the deadline. Whether or not they actually act on them remains to be seen.
The good news is, there should be plenty of pitching options available should the Phillies decide to enter the trade market. If they opt to add a pitcher, one of the things they could be looking for is a player under team control beyond the 2019 season, but typically those types of players cost more, and with MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak — he also signed a secret three-year extension (through 2022) — looking to hang on to the few valuable prospects they have, finding a player that fits what they want might be tougher than you think.
In MLBTradeRumor.com's recent rankings of the top trade candidates, 10 of the first 11 players were pitchers, including each of the Top 5. Let's take a look:
1-2. Will Smith, RP & Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants (Last Ranked: 1, 2): Yeah, the Giants are still within shouting distance of Wild Card position — but they still have the NL’s third-worst record. There are a host of teams ahead of them that look better on paper and have greater motivation to keep pressing to contend. The San Francisco club remains well-positioned to take advantage of holding arguably the two best rental chips on the market (along with other trade assets).
3. Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets (LR: 47): With the Mets collapsing since our last ranking, Wheeler flies up the board. We’ll respect the results of our recent survey and list MadBum first, but there are probably some teams that will be more interested in the younger, cheaper, harder-throwing New York hurler. By most standards, Wheeler looks much the same as he did in his eye-opening 2018 campaign. he has allowed a few more long balls and a greater batting average on balls in play while carrying a lower strand rate, which helps explain why his ERA has ballooned from 3.31 to 4.69. He has allowed more hard contact, but Wheeler’s velocity and strikeout rates have headed northward.
4-5. Ken Giles, RP & Marcus Stroman, SP, Blue Jays (LR: INJ, 3): Both Jays hurlers are controlled through the 2020 season, and both are throwing well. In fact, “well” is an understatement for Giles, who has pitched to a sensational 1.45 ERA with better than 15 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Stroman’s numbers aren’t quite so gaudy, but the ground-ball machine is on pace for his third 200-inning season in the past four years while maintaining an ERA in the low 3.00s. Smith and Bumgarner might be the top starter/reliever rental combo on the market, but this duo is the best starter/reliever pair with control beyond the current season. [mlbtraderumors.com]
Some of those names, like Madison Bumgarner and Marcus Stroman, should look familiar as they have been linked to the Phillies in the past. Others, like Ken Giles, will look familiar for different reasons. Wheeler recently landed on the injured list with shoulder fatigue, but an MRI reportedly revealed no structural damage.
It's also important to note that Bumgarner has the Phillies on his no-trade list, which is actually full of contenders, since they will be the most likely teams trying to acquire the veteran and this essentially allows him to pick his destination. With the way the Phillies are playing, it might be unlikely that he waives his no-trade clause to allow a deal to a team that's currently on the outside looking in.
Beyond those five, other pitchers likely to be dealt according to the above list include Sam Dyson (Giants), Shane Greene (Tigers), Matthew Boyd (Tigers), Tony Watson (Giants), and Jake Diekman (Royals). Again, there are some familiar names in there, as the Phillies have been previously linked to Boyd and have previously employed Diekman.
The Phillies have also been linked to Orioles reliever Mychal Givens, who checks in at No. 17 on MLBTradeRumors.com's list of most likely players to be traded. They also are reportedly interested in Andrew Cashner and Dylan Bundy, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com:
I wrote over the weekend that the Phillies had serious interest in Cashner and certainly would have sent a scout to Camden Yards yesterday to watch him pitch prior to the trade. They also like Bundy and reliever Mychal Givens, based on what I’ve heard via industry chatter, and the latter most definitely is in play.
I’ve heard that the Phillies are going to have a scouting presence in Baltimore this week. They’re checking out Givens, who was dominant again Saturday in a two-inning save, getting a double play and striking out two batters.
Their organization is loaded with former Orioles, so they’re already quite familiar with his body of work. [masnsports.com]
Another option for the Phillies could be Mike Minor of the Rangers, who reportedly would like to stay in Texas but may not have much of a say in the matter.
Sources: Mike Minor is increasingly likely to be traded in the next two weeks, as I reported a short time ago on @MLBNetwork. The #Brewers and #Phillies are among the interested teams, although there’s no indication that a deal is close. @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 17, 2019
So, will the Phillies make a move? There are now less than two weeks until the deadlined, so the clock is already ticking. In the meantime, you can follow along with all the latest MLB trade rumors and news right here in our live updates tracker.
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