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June 12, 2019

Do the Phillies even have the prospects to make blockbuster trades?

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072318_Adonis-Medina_usat Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

Phillies prospect Adonis Medina pitches in the seventh inning of the 2018 All Star Futures Game at Nationals Ballpark.

There are no shortage of needs for the Phillies, currently clinging to a tie for first in the NL East with a thoroughly depleted roster due to injuries left and right.

There are also no shortage of trade candidates, as an outfielder, left-handed starter and bullpen help are all on the list of needs for the team as it looks to bolster the roster for a strong showing in the summer months.

However, the Phillies may have limited resources available to use as ammunition toward acquiring a player like Madison Bumgarner or Ken Giles.

As recently as pre-season 2018, or about 15 months ago, the Phillies had the fifth best farm system in baseball according to MLB.com. Of the six players who were among the top 100 in baseball, Scott Kingery has been called up and is now an established utility man, Adam Haseley has been called to the big leagues (and is currently on the injured list), Sixto Sanchez and J.P. Crawford have been traded away and Mickey Moniak and Adonis Medina have fallen off the top 100 list. 

According to fangraphs, the Phils had the 10th best grouping of prospects heading into 2019. Prospect Digest had Philadelphia 11th, but this was before Sixto Sanchez was included in a trade to Miami.

The Phils don't crack the top 10 in MLB.com's current top farm system rankings, and clock in at No. 14 on Bleacher Report's post-draft rankings. Here's what Joel Reuter had to say about Philly's current crop:

Between promotions to the majors and trades—most notably the deal that sent Sixto Sanchez to the Marlins in exchange for J.T. Realmuto—the Philadelphia Phillies farm system is no longer the top-tier group it was a few years ago. That's what happens when a team moves from rebuilding to contending. 
The emergence of Spencer Howard has helped ease the loss of Sanchez. The 22-year-old has a strong 6'3", 205-pound frame and a terrific four-pitch arsenal, and MLB.com wrote he "has the stuff to be a frontline starter" in his preseason profile. [Bleacher Report]

According to B/R, just two of the Phillies prospects land in baseball's top 100 — Alec Bohm and the aforementioned Howard. Other prospects of note, like Medina and Luis Garcia, are labeled as "tier two" prospects, while Haseley, Enyel De Los Santos and others are "tier three." B/R doesn't even give mention to 2016's first overall pick Moniak, who is playing a bit better in Double-A of late.

So what does all of this mean for the team this year? Well it means they have a limited number of trade centerpieces to dangle in front of rebuilding teams in order to land a premiere player at the trade deadline.

The front office, led by GM Matt Klentak will in all likelihood work diligently to acquire players who are cheap, older, or on expiring deals. The picked up Jay Bruce from the Mariners for almost nothing a few weeks ago and a deal or two of that caliber is much more likely than huge, farm-system-altering blockbusters. The main issue is, when vying for players on the open market, the price goes up, and teams selling will play buyers off one another to try and land the best package of prospects.

The Phillies, according to the media outlets listed above and many others, may not have the firepower to enter a bidding war for a player. Phillies fans may need to lower their expectations and focus on the players who are here right now, as a healthy Phillies roster may be the biggest upgrade the team can reasonably make. 

Unfortunately, that's not something the team has any control over. 


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