July 29, 2017
Pat Neshek to the Rockies. Howie Kendrick to the Nationals. Jeremy Hellickson to the Orioles.
And, to the Phillies: five prospects, including two left-handers and two right-handers, a toolsy shortstop, an extra outfielder, and $1 million in international signing bonus pool space for a signing period began earlier this month.
Got all of that?
After a quiet trade deadline a year ago, his first as a major league general manager, Matt Klentak has pulled off three trades in a 72-hour span that have sent veterans on expiring contracts out and brought young talent and significant money in.
Two days after sending Neshek, their top trade chip, to Denver, the Phillies completed two deals following Friday’s game. The first came shortly after the game, with Kendrick going to their NL East rivals in D.C.
The second went down at midnight, not long after the Orioles-Rangers game went final. Hellickson, who had originally been scheduled to pitch for the Phillies on Friday but was scratched a half hour prior to the game, will join the Orioles rotation in exchange for outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, left-handed prospect Garrett Cleavinger, and international bonus dollars.
Both trades the Phillies made on Friday night fattened their wallet for the international signing period, which began earlier this month. When you consider all teams start with a pool of $4.75 million, adding $1 million to that pool through trades is hardly insignificant.
“You guys probably know the caliber of player that that can afford, in that market,” Klentak said of the $1 million acquired. “The tricky thing is a lot of the top players have signed already. A lot of them signed on July 2. We have 11 months to commit this money before the next signing period, but we haven’t committed this money yet. … The name of the game is talent. There are limited ways that we can acquire talent. One is through the draft, another is through trades and another is signing international amateurs. There are rules that govern how much we can spent in all those areas. But this was an opportunity for us to add to our pool and allow our international group to go identify more talent.”
Cleavinger, the Orioles third-round pick in 2015, is 15-8 with a 3.79 ERA in 83 minor league games but has struggled at Double-A this season: 6.75 ERA, 42 K/23 BB in 38 2/3 innings, all in relief. The Phillies still like the potential in the hard-throwing left-hander’s 23-year-old arm.
“We definitely like his arm; he still needs some work,” Klentak said. “He’s a project, but he’s a pretty interesting project to turn over to our player development group. We think our player development staff on the pitching side does a really good job, and we’re excited to see what they can do with Garrett. This guy, two years ago, was a third-round pick. He doesn’t come out of nowhere. We obviously like his strikeout work quite a bit.”
Cleavinger has struck out 176 batters in 140 minor league innings. He had a 9.8 strikeout rate at Double-A Bowie this year.
Cleavinger was ranked the 27th best prospect in the Orioles farm system by MLB.com. Here is some of the scouting report from the folks at mlbpipeline.com on the 6-foot-1, 210-pound lefty:
“A stocky left-hander, Cleavinger's fastball will touch 96 mph but typically sits in the 89-92 mph range. His curveball plays as average, registering in the low 70s with good shape and depth, though at times he struggles to get on top of it. … Cleavinger's deceptive delivery and the fact that he hides the ball well makes his stuff play up and makes him naturally tough to barrel. That being said, the effort in the delivery does raise questions about his overall strike-throwing ability.”
Kim, meanwhile, is expected to join the Phillies bench and effectively take the 25-man roster spot vacated by Kendrick. The 29-year-old South Korean native played sparingly for Baltimore this year (.232, .593 OPS in 56 games) but did enjoy some success last year in his first season in the big leagues: .302, six home runs, .801 OPS in 305 at-bats in 95 games.
Kim can become a free agent at the end of the season.
Hellickson, too, can file for free agency come November. The 30-year-old right-hander returned to the Phillies last winter after accepting a $17.2 million qualifying offer and declining the chance to test the free agent waters in the offseason.
Hellickson went 18-15 with a 4.09 ERA in 52 starts with the Phillies since the beginning of the 2016 season.
"He joined a young and unproven rotation," Klentak said. "For the last year and a half, he has delivered incredible stability to this pitching staff. He has held up his end of the bargain magnificently. I told him tonight on his way out of the park just how much we appreciated that because he entered this organization at the very beginning stages of the rebuild. He did his job just as good as we could’ve expected."
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