June 22, 2023
The Phillies have climbed above the .500 mark with some very solid play so far in June, and have made a pretty convincing case to become buyers when trade season arrives in July.
It's pretty early to be musing like this — most teams wait until the deadline is pretty close to pull the trigger on a deal — but that doesn't mean it isn't fun to dive into rumors, potential trade pieces, and mock deals. We did it earlier this week, and it seems likely the Phillies will be active in some way next month.
The team needs a fifth starter and other upgrades wouldn't hurt either. Over at MLB.com, insider Mark Feinsand looked at 10 potential trade chips across baseball and possible destinations for those players. Unsurprisingly, the Phillies came up twice.
First, we'll look at White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, who is having a breakout season and will likely not be in Chicago next March.
Giolito has pitched to a 3.14 ERA in nine starts since the beginning of May, including a 1.50 ERA in his first three June outings, but the White Sox came into the week 11 games under .500. They will have some difficult decisions to make -- for instance, do they trade controllable arms such as Dylan Cease and/or Michael Kopech? Giolito will be a free agent at the end of the season, making it a near certainty that he will be wearing a new uniform by August.
Potential fits: Astros, Dodgers, Phillies [MLB.com]
Adding a pitcher with stuff like Giolito — instead of a fifth starter type in the mold of Noah Syndergaard (who the Phillies traded for last year) should be the priority and with good reason. The biggest contrast in the World Series between Philly and Houston was how deep and well-rested the Astros' starting pitching staff was. The Phillies were on fumes, leaning heavily on just two guys essentially in Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. The Astros had a ton of options and all of them had been used more sparingly leading up to the Fall Classic.
If the Phillies do see another deep run in their future, they need to get another top of the line starter who can be a quality contributor in the playoffs.
There's another upgrade MLB.com surmises the Phillies might be interested in, and that is third baseman Jeimer Candelario, who plays in the division already in Washington.
Candelario has rebounded nicely from his disappointing 2022 season, particularly in the past five weeks, as he’s posted a 1.008 OPS since May 15 to go along with his plus defense (his 7 outs above average rank in the 98th percentile at the hot corner). The 29-year-old is owed about $3 million for the remainder of the season and is slated to become a free agent this winter.
Potential fits: Mariners, Marlins, Phillies [MLB.com]
This is a more interesting connection than the starting pitching one. The Phillies have sort of juggled the infield — particularly at first base with Rhys Hoskins out for the year, though Darick Hall looks like he'll be back with the team sometime soon, putting Alec Bohm back at third full-time.
Bryce Harper should eventually return to the field in right, opening the DH spot for Kyle Schwarber. Candelario is a great defender and a player who could potentially get spot starts in the mold of Edmundo Sosa, but barring an injury he would simply be a depth piece, which is not something the Phillies should shy away from acquiring but also not a priority to spend top prospects on.
Either way, remember these two names and keep an eye on each as summer baseball rolls on.
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