The Phillies currently sit 2.5 games back of the Mets for first place in the division. After the way the season started, not many could have seen the Phillies in this position. It is looking more and more likely that the team is going to be buying come the July 30th trade deadline.
Dave Dombrowski recently sat down with John Clark on his podcast to talk all things Phillies. Here’s what he had to say about the team’s deadline approach:
“I think we’re better than a .500 team and we’ve played much better here recently. We are contending, we have a chance to win. We legitimately have a chance to win. They have to do the little things right, we have to advance runners, get runners in from third base, cut down on our strikeouts, make the routine plays from a defensive perspective. We’re not selling. We’re not looking to move players off of our team. Anything can happen in 10 days or two weeks — if you lose 10 games in a row, then maybe things are different, or if you win 10 games in a row, it’s a little bit different. But we’re in a position where we’re in this.”
Like he said, anything can happen in the next week or so, but the Phillies are looking to go all in. No one has taken control of the division, making it a wide open race. The Mets appeared to be in control, but a disappointing few series against Pittsburgh left the door open.
While the Phillies don’t necessarily have the prospect depth to make a big move, they have some interesting pieces. That being said, much of the deadline shopping should be done along the margins. Everyone wants to see the big move for Craig Kimbrel or Kris Bryant, but there are players available who won’t cost nearly as much.
Here are four players that I think could really help the Phillies.
RHP Ian Kennedy, Texas Rangers
A starter for most of his career, Kennedy signed with the Rangers this offseason to be a closer. After pitching to a tune of a 2.59 ERA while going 15/16 in save opportunities, I’d say that deal has worked out.
Similar to Ranger Suarez, Kennedy doesn’t have overpowering stuff. He has a four pitch mix that keeps batter off balance and guessing. His spin rates, especially on his fastball (86th percentile), are higher than average, making for some late movement.
Acquiring Kennedy to sure up the backend of the bullpen would be a cost effective trade, as well. His salary in 2021 is only $2.15 million, making him an attractive target for a team so close to the luxury tax line. It seems that this will be the season that the Phillies cross that threshold, however, Kennedy alone wouldn’t get them there.
Having another reliever capable of multiple innings will only help the Phillies pitching staff. As we have seen all season, the less arms we have to bring in, the better.
CF Starling Marte, Miami Marlins
This would be a strictly rental move for the Phillies, as I don’t see Marte playing CF much into his next contract. For now, though, Marte slides right into the hole out in CF for the team. Miami is going to be selling off pieces, but were hoping to sign Marte long term. After he declined a $30 million deal with the Fish, the Marlins look likely to entertain offers.
While interdivisional trades are not usually likely, the Phillies and Marlins have history in doing as such. Marte has been the most consistent member of the Marlins, hitting .294 across 211 at-bats. He has also been a pest on the bases, going 19/22 in stolen base attempts this season. Adding a hitter like Marte to the lineup gives the Phillies a on-base threat for the power bats to drive in.
Also, Marte has a career stat line of .398 AVG/.451 OBP/.645 SLG/1.096 OPS while hitting at Citizens Bank Park. That right there makes it a slam dunk trade, in my opinion.
RHP Michael Pineda, Minnesota Twins
While Dombrowski should be looking at arms for the bullpen, the rotation is not to be forgotten about. Frankly, while they are 6-1 in his starts, I can’t watch Matt Moore struggle through five innings anymore.
Michael Pineda is exactly the type of arm the team should be looking at for back-of-the-rotation help. He has dealt with right forearm injuries this year, but has pitched well when able to get on the field. Through 12 starts this season, Pineda is 3-5 with a 4.11 ERA. He isn’t going to overpower anyone, but he does a good job limiting walks. His career K/BB ratio of 4.38 is actually better than Aaron Nola’s career 3.73 mark.
Due to his injury history and contract, acquiring Pineda would not be an expensive trade. Having him in the fold also allows the Phillies to move someone to the bullpen, preferably Moore. Pineda has arguably been the Twins’ most consistent starter the last few years. His presence at the backend of the Phillies rotation would help them get back to the playoffs.
LHP Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Acquiring Chapman is definitely a longshot, but it is realistic for the Phillies. The Phillies have an inclination to take on more salary as opposed to giving up better prospects in any deal. Chapman is signed through next year, with a salary of $18 million. It would be a pricey acquisition from a financial aspect, but one that wouldn’t cost much capital.
He has not had a year up to his typical standards, pitching to a 4.41 ERA in 32.2 innings. In fact, last night’s save against the Phillies was his first in over a month. Chad Green has taken the Yankees closer role this year, making Chapman a very expensive setup man for the Bombers. He does still have the stuff that made him so lethal coming into the league.
With the Yankees being seven games out of first place in the AL East, some believe they could be sellers. Chapman could be a piece available, especially because of the money he is still owed. The Yankees wanting to get out of the luxury tax could be enough ammo to trade a player like Chapman. The Phillies should take the opportunity to strike, if that’s the case.
Adding a power arm to the backend of the bullpen, especially lefthanded, would be a huge coup for the Phillies. All of the teams in the NL East race have big lefthanded bats, and Chapman is more established than a pitcher like Jose Alvarado.
Depending on how much money the Phillies eat, Chapman could be had relatively cheap. Adding an arm like that to the playoff race only makes the Phillies a tougher team to play against. If Chapman is available, then Dombrowski should be calling Brian Cashman and figuring out how to make the money work.