July 08, 2017
Baseball’s trade deadline arrives three weeks from Monday, but that doesn’t preclude teams from consummating deals during the All-Star break, or really, anytime between now and July 31.
Matt Klentak, in the middle of his second season as the Phillies general manager, will surely be selling off veteran parts, like right-handers Pat Neshek and Jeremy Hellickson and infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick. Kendrick, on the disabled list for the second time in the season’s first three months, is expected to go on a rehab assignment within the next week and activated at some point during the first road trip of the second half.
“He'll have plenty of time to show that he's healthy and … he’s got a 10-year track record of being a pretty consistent offensive performer who can play multiple positions,” Klentak said prior to Saturday afternoon’s game at Citizens Bank Park. “I'm sure that if I'm another club, I want to see that he's healthy but I think we'll have plenty of time for that.”
Kendrick, who has slashed .349/.403/.476 while starting 10 games at second base and 20 in left field this season, could be a nice fit for a contender with a modern day manager who likes to jockey players around the field on a daily basis to get the most out of the entirety of his roster. Like Joe Maddon’s Cubs last year.
Kendrick, Neshek, and Hellickson, all free agents come November, are the obvious candidates to be wearing new uniforms on August 1. But what about the rest of the roster?
Klentak agreed with his boss, team president Andy MacPhail, that there isn’t an untouchable on the roster (and probably not one in the system, save A-ball teenage fireballer, Sixto Sanchez). But this is a pretty obvious point and one that doesn’t really require anyone going out too far on the proverbial limb: the Phillies have the worst record in baseball and haven’t had a winning season since 2011 (when our friend Sixto was 12-years-old).
With that said, could the Phillies make some less obvious trades and deal young players who have years of club control remaining?
The most obvious of those less obvious trade candidates are players who happen to be playing the same positions as some of the organization’s top, near-major league ready prospects. Like Tommy Joseph, who has a team-leading 15 home runs and, since his dreadful April, has slashed .273/.337/.532 in his last 61 games entering Saturday.
Rhys Hoskins, at 24, a year and a half younger than Joseph, has arguably been the best player in the International League (he has a league-best .961 OPS) and will represent the Phillies, along with second baseman Scott Kingery, at the Future Game in Miami on Sunday. Hoskins, unlike Kingery, has to be added the 40-man roster in November so he’s almost a no-brainer to promote in the next three months, given how he’s had his way with pitchers in the last two years.
Dylan Cozens homered ... Rhys Hoskins only tripled ... Slacker pic.twitter.com/ayqsveGle1— Mitch Rupert (@Mitch_Rupert) June 28, 2017
But, as manager Pete Mackanin said Friday, Joseph and Hoskins cannot “coexist” on one roster. They’re both right-handed hitters only capable of playing first base.
So trade Joseph, right? Probably, but no one knows if Hoskins will, in fact, be a better big league player than Joseph (big league pitchers aren’t Triple-A pitchers, of course), and Hoskins’ numbers since May 1 (.273/.372/.555) are pretty similar to Joseph’s in the same time frame, aside from the more robust OBP.
But there are teams that could use a first baseman (hello New York Yankees) and perhaps you can package Joseph into a trade with one of the three obvious names atop this story and get a better return back.
The less obvious of the less obvious young, controllable players on the roster that opposing GMs could come calling for on a team that’s basically making anyone and everyone available? How about the two most gifted offensive players who are either having an off-year following two strong seasons or have yet to fulfill their potential?
If you guessed Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco, yes, those were the two players we were getting at. No, the Phillies aren’t likely to actively attempt to trade either player (as a rebuilding organization, they can afford to be patient with growing pains) but the idea of moving either is at least intriguing, particularly if it opens up the idea of bringing back an impact type player in return.
Neither Herrera or Franco are current favorites among a large segment of a weary fan base (and in Herrera's case, probably not even of his manager, who pinch hit for him late in a game on Saturday for the second time in eight days) but each has tools or skill sets that are attractive to opposing teams willing to offer patience, too, and a change of scenery.
“You'll probably never get me to talk specifically about any one or two players, but as far as what Andy said and kind of piggybacking off that, honestly, whether you're a good team or a bad team, whether you're in a win-now mode or a rebuilding mode, you have to be open-minded to different scenarios,” Klentak said. “You just never know what may present itself, and that's why we take all the phone calls we take and that's why we make all the phone calls we make – to ask questions of a few other teams. You never know ... it may not have seemed obvious at first but that's why you have the dialogue.
“For where we are right now it doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense for us to go acquire rentals for the second half of the season. So there are certain types of players that we would likely shy away from. But if we think a player fits, for us, over the medium or long term and the acquisition cost is right, we won't shy away from it. To get good players you need to give up good players; we are very much open-minded to everything.”
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