The Phillies are 22 games into the season and with a 12-10 record, they sit a top the NL East.
Despite this somewhat decent start, I still wouldn’t say that they are playing to their potential. They’ve already lost multiple games in which Nola started, which was a rare occurrence last season and yet again the bullpen is slacking.
Looking at the rest of the roster you don’t really see a guy that is playing over his head. Jake Arrieta is pitching like the guy they paid for, Vince Velasquez is doing exactly what Vince Velasquez does, Zach Eflin is being Zach Eflin, and you’d like to think that Jerad Eickhoff will be an improvement over Nick Pivetta.
As for the offensive side of the ball, it’s the same story outside of Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery, who was just sent to the 10 Day DL.
So how could the Phillies improve this season without going over the luxury tax? They are about $18 million under the tax margin at the moment and it’s clear the team needs to acquire a starting pitcher as well as a bullpen piece. Most people will suggest Dallas Keuchel but unless he wants to sign a cheap one-year deal (which I believe would’ve been done by now if that was the case) it’s a no go for me.
San Francisco Giants – Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith
At the trade deadline the Phillies will be buyers and they have talent at all levels to get the right return. The San Francisco Giants are a prime trade partner with Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith reportedly on their trade block.
Both would be rentals so a package like Nick Williams, Adam Haseley, and Ranger Suarez should be able to get it done and still keep the Phillies under the tax. This move would give the Giants a starting caliber outfielder right away, nearly a top 100 prospect in Haseley, and a left handed pitching prospect. Acquiring Bumgarner would also give the Phillies a pitcher that has been notoriously dominant in the postseason.
Texas Rangers – Mike Minor
If the Phillies miss on Bumgarner and Smith, next is Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers. This offseason there was a ton of rumors that linked the Phillies with Minor and that didn’t really shock anyone. Minor like Bumgarner, is a lefty which is a need for Philadelphia’s current rotation. The difference from Minor to Bumgarner is that Minor isn’t a rental. He’s under contract for a little over $9 million next year as a 32 year-old.
The New York #Mets and Philadelphia #Phillies are showing strong interest in Texas #Rangers ace Mike Minor, who is off to a dazzling start. He pitched a 3-hit CG shutout Tuesday vs. #Angels, and has a 1.27 ERA in his last three starts. He's owed $9.5 million this year and in 2020
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 17, 2019
I don’t see the Rangers being interested in Nick Williams (who they traded to the Phillies for Hamels in 2015) since they seem to have the corner outfield set with Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. Adam Haseley or Mickey Moniak may entice them along with a MLB ready arm, whether that’s Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, or Ranger Suarez. The Rangers aren’t just giving up Minor. He won’t be cheap, but he’d be a nice piece to add to the rotation for the next two years.
It’s also worth noting that if the Phillies really wanted to they could acquire both Bumgarner and Minor without going over the luxury tax for 2019. It’s not something I’d bet on, but with the way this team seems to be handling this season already by sending down Pivetta they don’t seem to be patient waiting for the growing pains to end. If Velasquez continues to struggle and there’s an injury don’t rule anything out.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Robbie Ray
Acquiring Robbie Ray from the Diamondbacks is another move that could be made. Ray is under team control for the 2020 season and is only 27yrs old. Like Bumgarner and Minor, he is also a lefty. Trading for Ray will likely mean giving the D’Backs Adonis Medina or Spencer Howard and another top prospect. As a 27yr old with an All-Star appearance already, an expensive price tag should be expected.
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) December 30, 2018
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Currently a freshman at Penn State. Broadcast Journalism Major. Processor enthusiast, Carson Wentz is my dad.