The Phillies had a busy off-season adding free agents Jake Arrieta, Carlos Santana, Pat Neshek, and Tommy Hunter. Most believed the Phillies would be a greatly improved team but most still believed that the Nationals would run away with the NL East. It’s now July 13th and the Phillies are 52-40 and in 1st place in the NL East, up 0.5 game on the Atlanta Braves. Meanwhile, the Nationals are 10-20 in their last 30 games which has allowed the Phillies to take a 5.5 game lead on them in the division. The Phillies look to be prime players to add at the trade deadline to help them win their first division and make their first playoff appearance since 2011. This Phillies team does have some holes, so here are some players that could help fill those needs.
1. Orioles SS Manny Machado and LHP Zach Britton
I think we all know how good Manny Machado is and the Phillies obviously love him. He’s the impact bat they need and a perfect for the team. Zach Britton also fills a need for the Phillies and he has pitched well since his comeback from a torn Achilles. Britton currently holds a 4.26 ERA but that number is a little inflated due to his 4 ER appearance against the Braves. If you throw out that appearance, 11 of of his 12 other appearances have been scoreless. Britton and Machado are both rentals and can leave at the end of the season as free agents. The Orioles are not going to get the haul that they expect for them as the trade market is not kind to rentals. If a trade for both cannot be worked out, a trade for one or the other is probably likely.
Reminder: If the Phillies miss out on Machado at the trade deadline it is not the end of the world. They still have a great chance at signing him in free agency this winter and there are other players available via trade that can help the Phillies make their playoff push.
2. Twins 3B/SS Eduardo Escobar
Here is one of those guys mentioned above that could help the Phillies make their playoff push if traded for. A switch hitter, Eduardo Escobar is in the midst of a career year with the Minnesota Twins and they could look to cash in, well, sort of, as Escobar is also going to be a free agent after this season. Escobar is currently slashing .272/.328/.517 with 14 HR, 45 RBI and a 123 wRC+, which ranks 8th among all MLB 3rd baseman, through 87 games so far with the Twins in 2018. Even with Maikel Franco’s recent surge Escobar would still provide an upgrade 3B and he would bring versatility as he can play both SS and 2B as well.
3. Reds RHP Raisel Iglesias
The Reds are a game over .500 since starting 3-15 and firing manager Bryan Price but they still finds themselves in last place in the NL Central. They could look to unload some of their bullpen arms and Raisel Iglesias is the best one they have. Iglesias has been a reliable closer for the Reds through their rebuild and is turning in another solid 2018. Iglesias currently spots a 2.41 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and hitters are hitting just .197 against him. Iglesias would be another reliable piece to add to the back end of the Phillies bullpen to go with Seranthony Dominguez, Pat Neshek, and Victor Arano. Iglesias is under team control through the 2020 season so the price could be steep to acquire him.
4. Padres LHP Brad Hand
The Padres once again find themselves in last place in the NL West at 40-55, even with the addition of 1B Eric Hosmer this off-season, and could look to get a good haul of prospects for their most valuable trade piece in closer Brad Hand. Hand, 28, has been one of the better relievers in all of baseball since moving to the Padres from the Marlins after the 2015 season. Hand really broke out last season once put into the closers role for San Diego after they traded then closer Fernando Rodney. Last season Hand pitched to a 2.16 ERA, 2.90 xFIP, and an 11.80 K/9 for the Padres and he’s continued that success into 2018. So far this season, Hand has a 2.91 ERA, 2.76 xFIP, and a ridiculous 13.29 K/9, which currently ranks 7th among all relief pitchers. Hand might be the best reliever on the trade market but many teams have balked on the Padres very high asking price. It was reported that the Padres asked for the Red Sox young 3rd baseman Rafael Devers in a trade for Hand. The asking price could be too rich for the Phillies but they should inquire on Hand nonetheless.
5. Tigers RF/3B Nicholas Castellanos
The Phillies are in need of another power bat in the lineup and if they strike out on acquiring Orioles SS Manny Machado acquiring Nicholas Castellanos from the Tigers wouldn’t be bad consolation prize. Castellanos had a breakout year in 2017 and has only gotten better in 2018 slashing .305/.358/.523 with 15 HRs and 56 RBI in 91 games for the Tigers. Castellanos’ 138 wRC+ currently ranks 5th in MLB among all RF and 9th among all OF. Castellanos is just 26 years old but he will be a free agent after the 2019 season. It would make sense for Detroit to look to move Castellanos now to increase their return for him instead of waiting until next years trade deadline or this off-season to move him. An acquisition of Castellanos would allow the Phillies to have either Nick Williams or Maikel Franco come off the bench and greatly improve their bench, which has not been much of threat as of late.
6. Marlins LHP Adam Conley
I’m sure some of you are asking “Who?” but Marlins lefty Adam Conley has had a very good 2018. After struggling as a starter in 2017 the Marlins moved Conley to the bullpen and he has shown to be pretty good out of the bullpen. Conley has an 11.03 K/9 and is holding hitters to a .179 BABIP to go along with a 3.04 ERA. Conley would be able to step in and be that reliable lefty out of the bullpen that can get both left-handed and right-handed hitters out, something Adam Morgan has failed to do so far in 2018. Left-handed hitters are hitting .132 against Conley and right-handed hitters are not fairing much better, hitting just .156. Conley is also under team control through 2021. Conley could be part of a bigger trade that brings the Phillies back another Miami reliever like RHPs Kyle Barraclough or Drew Steckenrider.
Something to take note of: The more years of control a player has, the higher the price is going to be for that player. For example, Brad Hand and Zach Britton are very comparable as pitchers but Hand will no doubt bring back more in a trade because he is under team control through 2021, while Britton will be a free agent this winter. General Manger Matt Klentak is no doubt looking to add at the trade deadline and improve the team’s playoff hopes but a making a big splash might not be feasible due to higher asking prices because contender’s get desperate. Klentak adding a bullpen piece here and a bench bat there could equate to a successful trade deadline if the price is right. It’s fun to talk about the Phillies being trade deadline players once again.
Stats courtesy of: Baseball Reference and FanGraphs
(Featured Image: Sporting News)
Graduate from Indiana University of PA. SMWW Certified Scout.