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June 08, 2019

MLB rumors: The Phillies could trade for these five top-of-the-line starters right now

We've already detailed the Phillies desperate need for bullpen help. And since the team has displayed it is not content to wait until the July 31st trade deadline, a swap for a starting pitcher could be in the cards sooner rather than later.

The rotation has been in flux. Even though just eight pitchers have started a game, just two starters have made all 13 starts this season. Here's a look at the staff as currently constructed:

 Starts | W-LERAK/BB
Aaron Nola13 | 6-14.6379/31
Jake Arrieta13 | 5-54.2965/32
Zach Eflin12 | 6-52.8857/18
Jared Eickhoff9 | 3-34.1448/15
Nick Pivetta6 | 3-16.1431/10

Mediocre is probably the best adjective. The Phillies' starting staff has issued the fifth most free passes in all of baseball. They are in the middle of the road in most categories, like ERA (4.26, 14th), batting average against (.261, 22nd), and way too high in home runs allowed (54, 4th). 

In addition to Nola finding his control and Arrieta allowing fewer deep balls (he has allowed 14 of them), it's possible that the Phils just need an infusion of talent into the starting five. 

While many hoped they would do this by signing Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, the Braves beat them to it, leaving the trade market as the arena for acquiring a starting pitching arm.

It's nothing new for contending Phillies teams, as they historically traded for starters Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jim Bunning and Steve Carlton. There are some potential blockbuster deals to be had for the Phils, but it's just a matter of determining how much of their middle-of-the-road farm system they're willing to give up to get a top of the line starter.

We combed through the teams likely to be sellers and came up with these five starting pitching trade candidates:

*Keep in mind, we are not including hurlers like Arizona's Robbie Ray, or Cleveland's Trevor Bauer because those two teams are very much alive and kicking in their respective Wild Card races. We limited this list to players on teams we know for sure will be sellers. More teams will have their players added to this list as they fall out of contention.

Madison Bumgarner, Giants

The biggest name on this list, Bumgarner has an expiring contract which will drive down his price. He also has, you know, 113 career wins, a 3.08 career ERA and four All-Star appearances. The Phillies could use Bumgarner, not only for his veteran presence with 11 years of pitching in the majors under his belt, but his unequaled postseason prowess. Bumgarner has three World Series titles, and an 8-3 postseason record with a ridiculous 2.11 ERA.

Complicating things is Bumgerner's limited no-trade clause, which reportedly contains the Phillies on it. He'll need to agree to any trade to Philly. However with the Giants mired in last place in the NL West, a chance to contend again — and potentially a contract extension — could be enough to convince the 2007 first round pick to move east.

Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays

Stroman is another great pitcher who would welcome a trade to a contender. The Jays have given Stroman a futile amount of run support, squandering his 3.31 ERA with a 3-8 record on his ledger. The 28-year-old starter could be under team control for 2020 as well, as he has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining — making him also cheaper than the average ace. 

He has less of a proven track record than Bumgarner, having pitched great in 2017, but he was less than stellar in 2016 and 2018. Still, he's an upgrade and after 2020 the team could let him walk.

Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays

Sanchez is in the same contractual spot with Toronto as Stroman. With one year of arbitration left, Sanchez is two years younger and was an All-Star in 2016, when he went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA and finished seventh in Cy Young voting. Sanchez has ace stuff and is just starting to enter his prime. 

He would likely fetch just a bit more of a return than Stroman but will be equally as appealing as his fellow Blue Jays right-hander.

Matt Boyd, Tigers

Boyd, 28, is a late bloomer as he has three arbitration seasons remaining before becoming a free agent. That is no doubt attractive to the Phillies but may cost them a little by way of prospects. A lefty, Boyd brings a desired element to the Phillies rotation that has been lacking. He's also improved every season he's been in the majors, boasting a 5-4 record and 3.08 ERA even as the Tigers trail well behind in the AL Central.

It will be interesting to see if the Phillies go this route, getting a lesser known pitcher on the upswing instead of an ace at the top of his prime like Bumgarner (or Bauer).

Tanner Roark, Reds

Roark would be a simple rental. He's a reliever-turned-starter that many may remember from his days with the Nationals. He is impressing for the Reds this season, (and will start against the Phillies Saturday), with a 3.67 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 62.1 innings.

Roark, a 32-year-old righty, would likely be cheap as the Reds will likely let him walk next offseason and wouldn't mind shedding some of his $10 million salary.

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