Winners and losers at the trade deadline

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It doesn’t take a whole heck of a lot of baseball sense to name the Tigers, A’s and Red Sox trade deadline winners this year, so let’s see if we can’t be a little less obvious than that. Here are some other people, as well as teams, that had good and not so good days Thursday.

In case you missed it, here’s our Trade Deadline Tracker.

Winners

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski: I’m not so convinced the Tigers made the right move parting with Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly for David Price for three reasons. First, Rick Porcello and his 3.24 ERA were likely to be more than fine in the postseason rotation. Second, the downgrade from Jackson to Rajai Davis in center field is big offensively and defensively (Davis’s OBPs against right-handed pitching the last three years: .290, .273 and .299). Third, Smyly seemed poised to be a very important piece of the Detroit pen in October.  Of course, all of that said, Price was the most valuable pitcher on the market. Dombrowski got his man yet again. He always seems to.

Jon Lester (LHP Athletics): Not only does Lester get to fatten up his numbers in Oakland for a couple of months and potentially improve those Hall of Fame credentials during another playoff run, but thanks to today’s trade, he’s no longer tied to draft-pick compensation as a free agent this winter. That could increase his haul by a few million bucks.

Oscar Taveras (OF Cardinals): It’s your turn to shine, Oscar. After getting mentioned in the Price and Lester talk, Taveras not only stayed put in St. Louis, but he now has himself a clear starting gig with Allen Craig gone to Boston. It hardly seemed like a coincidence that he responded by homering today against the Padres. The Cards could call up Randal Grichuk to platoon with Taveras against left-handers, but even if that happens, Taveras will no longer have to wait until the lineups are posted each day to figure out whether he’s playing.

St. Louis Cardinals: They got John Lackey and Justin Masterson without parting with Taveras or dipping into their stable of arms beyond Joe Kelly. Lackey has been a bulldog in the playoffs, and while I’m not sold on Masterson turning it around as a starter this year, I don’t deny it’s a possibility, and even if he doesn’t, he could be a force in relief in October. Also good: the Pirates did nothing Thursday and the Brewers failed to add to their staff (though they did get a nice piece in Gerardo Parra for the outfield). The Cardinals still have to get to the playoffs, but if they do, they have at least as good of a chance as any NL team of reaching the World Series.

Houston Astros: I’ve never been a big Jarred Cosart fan. I’m also not a big Jake Marisnick fan, so today’s trade with the Marlins wasn’t necessarily a slam dunk. It is worth a try, though. 2013 first-round pick Colin Moran should make it as at least an average regular at third base and might be something more. Marisnick has the tools to be an above average regular, too; I’m just skeptical he’ll put them together. To get the pair (along with a wild card arm in Francis Marte and a draft pick) for Cosart, and a couple of likely role players in Kike Hernandez and Austin Wates was a smart move.

Losers

Every AL contender besides the A’s and Tigers: Pick your poison… Lester, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija or Max Scherzer, Price, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez. The Angels have been the AL’s second best team this year — probably MLB’s second best team — but it’s going to be awfully difficult to get past those pitching staffs and into the World Series.

Philadelphia Phillies: OK, so this one is terribly obvious. It could be seen coming, too. It at least seemed that Ruben Amaro Jr. would move Marlon Byrd and/or Antonio Bastardo, two guys who had some legitimate trade value without the Phillies having to eat any money. Nope. Nothing. Nada. It’s disappointing that Amaro couldn’t pull off some sort of a deal with so little to lose. On the plus side, most of the rest of the Phillies will clear waivers, making them available in August deals.

Kansas City Royals: GM Dayton Moore couldn’t sell. To do so would have been to admit defeat and most likely would have cost him his job. Unfortunately, Moore also failed to add anything after flirting with several starters. All signs point to the Royals finishing in the neighborhood of .500 as a result.

Daniel Nava (OF Red Sox): The Yoenis Cespedes acquisition left room for Nava, but that changed a couple of hours later when Craig joined him on Boston’s roster. That’s a shame. Nava is hitting .330 over the last couple of months, has a better career OPS against righties than Craig and is a better defender in the outfield than Craig. He deserves to start against righties, but he’s probably going to take a backseat because of Craig’s contract.

Mookie Betts (2BOF, ?? Red Sox): Hard to tell what’s in store for one of baseball’s best prospects now. Already having moved off his natural home of second base, Betts finds himself behind Cespedes, Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr., Nava and Shane Victorino in the Red Sox outfield. Perhaps Betts will overtake Bradley at some point, but that’s going to be a tough assignment, what with Bradley looking like the AL’s premier defensive center fielder at the moment.

Cincinnati Reds: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon, yet your GM and ownership won’t step up to bring in any kind of bat with Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips hurt. This has been bothering me for weeks.

Joc Pederson (OF Dodgers): Pederson’s minor league numbers sat he’s ready — the 22-year-old is hitting .319/.448/.587 for Triple-A Albuquerque — but he stayed buried in Los Angeles after both being involved in Price and Lester rumors and also potentially being a candidate for promotion in the event of a Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier deal (of course, one of those could still come in August).

Colorado Rockies: Kevin Gausman for Jorge De La Rosa? Telling teams you’re not interesting in moving the NL’s oldest player (LaTroy Hawkins)? Sometimes it seems like the Rockies are perfectly content to be bad.

Not Losers

New York Yankees/Seattle Mariners: I can’t put them in the winners category since they’re AL contenders not located in Oakland and Detroit, but I still like the moves. The Yankees added Martin Prado and Stephen Drew to the haul that already included Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy without significantly dimming their future prospects. That’s just good dealing. And while the Mariners did give up a pretty nice piece in Nick Franklin, he stopped fitting into the club’s future the day Robinson Cano was signed. With Jackson and Chris Denorfia in the fold, the Mariners upped their chances to reach the playoffs and gave their fans a product worth investing in for the first time in a long time.

Raisel Iglesias injured elbow and hips falling in the shower

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Reds reliever Raisel Iglesias hasn’t appeared in a Grapefruit League game since March 14 and now we know why. He injured his right elbow and both hips falling in the shower three weeks ago, Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. He has had anti-inflammatory shots applied in both areas and he’ll be be shut down from pitching for a few more days.

Iglesias might not be ready for Opening Day, according to manager Bryan Price. Iglesias, however, thinks otherwise. He said, “I’m going to be OK. I’m probably going to throw one bullpen, and after that, mentally and physically, I’ll be ready to join the season and compete.”

Price said throughout the offseason that he intended to pick his closer according to the matchups rather than naming one official closer. As a result, this injury likely doesn’t change much except that Michael Lorenzen, Drew Storen, and Tony Cingrani may get a few more early season save chances if Iglesias doesn’t start the season on time.

Iglesias, 27, finished last season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings across five starts and 32 relief appearances.

2017 Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Philadelphia Phillies.

Phillies fans, get ready for another losing season. As bad as that sounds, 2017 is simply the next step in the Phillies’ rebuilding process. As a result, the club stocked up on veterans who are not signed beyond this season. GM Matt Klentak acquired Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox and utilityman Howie Kendrick from the Dodgers. He also signed outfielder Michael Saunders, Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek, and re-signed Jeremy Hellickson.

The biggest move of the offseason, however, was signing All-Star outfielder Odubel Herrera to a five-year, $30.5 million contract extension which will keep him in town through at least 2021. The deal also includes options for the 2022-23 seasons. Herrera, 25, transitioned from second base to center field in 2015 when the Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 draft from the Rangers. He broke out last season, batting .286/.361/.420 with 15 home runs, 49 RBI, 87 runs scored, and 25 stolen bases in 656 plate appearances while playing great defense. Herrera is not necessarily the cornerstone of the Phillies’ future, but he’s the best player on the team at the moment.

Kendrick will handle left field. The former second baseman became a utilityman for the Dodgers last year, finishing with a .255/.326/.366 batting line along with eight home runs and 40 RBI in 543 PA. The 33-year-old veteran has lost a few steps, but the Phillies don’t particularly care. As long as Kendrick stays healthy, the Phillies will have felt like they got their money’s worth.

Saunders takes over in right field. The oft-injured outfielder was able to log a career-high 140 games last year with the Blue Jays, hitting .253/.338/.478 with 24 home runs and 57 RBI in 558 PA. Again, the Phillies don’t particularly care if he’s able to match that production; the team is just looking for him to avoid injury. Citizens Bank Park does turn Saunders into a 30-homer threat, though.

Maikel Franco will reprise his role at third base. He’s been a frustrating player for the Phillies over parts of three seasons. He did hit 25 homers and knock in 88 runs last year, but his triple-slash line was a pedestrian .255/.306/.427 in 630 PA. New hitting coach Matt Stairs certainly will make Franco one of his top priorities this season as Franco can sometimes be chaotic at the plate, swinging so hard his helmet flies off. Franco’s defense at third base also leaves a lot to be desired. Some talk of Franco eventually moving across the diamond to first base, but he could also play his way out of the Phillies’ future plans if he doesn’t show any improvement in 2017.

Freddy Galvis returns to shortstop. Though baseball is currently in a state where only a few players reaching the 40-homer club, it seems like more players than ever are at least getting to 20 homers. Galvis was among them, nearly tripling his previous career-high with 20 long balls last year. He also knocked in 67 runs but hit an otherwise poor .241/.274/.399. He still managed to turn in a solid year despite the lackluster offense by playing some of the best defense at shortstop this side of Andrelton Simmons. Galvis, now 27, will soon be unseated by prospect J.P. Crawford. The Phillies may choose to simply move Galvis to the bench or, if he has a good first half, the club may try to trade him.

Second base is Cesar Hernandez’s. He struggled in the first half, putting up a meager .706 OPS, but broke out in the second half with an .824 OPS. It was like he had become a completely new player. Overall, he hit .294/.371/.393 with an MLB-best 11 triples while also scoring 67 runs. He stole 17 bases but also got caught 13 times, illustrating his most frustrating feature. He’s quick, but he’s not a smart baserunner. Hernandez, like Galvis, likely is not a part of the team’s future plans and he may end up in a new uniform by the summer of 2018.

First base is now Tommy Joseph’s to start the year now that the Phillies have finally closed the book on the Ryan Howard era. Joseph showed tremendous power, hitting .257/.308/.505 with 21 home runs and 47 RBI in 347 PA after taking over at first base in mid-May. Joseph is the prototypical first baseman: a player with great power potential but doesn’t get on base much otherwise, has a weak glove, and struggles against same-handed pitching. As mentioned, Franco is a potential threat to Joseph’s playing time at first base, and Rhys Hoskins – who hit 38 home runs at Double-A Reading last year — may be as well.

Cameron Rupp will serve as the starting catcher for the second year. Like Joseph, Rupp has lots of power, but is otherwise pedestrian offensively. Last season, he hit .252./.303/.447 with 16 home runs and 54 RBI in 419 plate appearances. Veterans Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday are hoping to be Rupp’s back-up, but 25-year-old Andrew Knapp is competing for that right as well after a solid year with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Hellickson will anchor the rotation in his second year with the Phillies. He was believed to be headed to free agency, but he shockingly accepted the Phillies’ $17.2 million qualifying offer. The veteran scuffled over the previous three seasons, but had a bounce-back effort in 2016, finishing 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA and a 154/45 K/BB ratio in 189 innings. For a rebuilding team, of course, the innings are all that really matter. Hellickson may find himself traded by the end of July if he performs well in the first half.

Buchholz is hoping for a career rebirth after some inconsistent years in the latter half of his 10 years with the Red Sox. The oft-injured right-hander compiled a mediocre 4.16 ERA and averaged only 22 starts per season since 2012. The Red Sox even used him out of the bullpen quite a bit last season, during which he compiled a 4.78 ERA. Buchholz, however, cost the Phillies virtually nothing and he’ll provide valuable rotation depth in an attempt to reestablish his value.

Jerad Eickhoff slots into the middle of the rotation after a sterling effort in 2016. Acquired from the Rangers in the 2015 Cole Hamels trade, the right-hander finished with a 3.65 ERA and a 167/42 K/BB ratio in 197 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old is very polished and is the type of pitcher that will help fill out the team’s future rotations quite nicely.

Aaron Nola is hoping for better luck in 2017. The 23-year-old right-hander got off to a slow start last season before missing the final two months with a sprained UCL and flexor. Nola, the Phillies’ first-round selection in the 2014 draft, is more polished than Eickhoff and will hope to replicate what he did in his rookie year in 2015, when he posted a 3.59 ERA with 68 strikeouts and 19 walks in 77 2/3 innings.

Vince Velasquez, 24, rounds out the rotation. He made one of the best starts of 2016 when he struck out 16 Padres in a shutout on April 14. Unfortunately, the rest of his season was marred by inconsistency and inefficiency. He failed to reach the sixth inning in 11 of his 24 starts and was ultimately shut down in September. Velasquez has the potential to become an ace, but some think the more likely scenario for the Phillies is that he eventually transitions into the bullpen.

Jeanmar Gomez will have the privilege of closing out ballgames for the Phillies once again, despite an ugly second half during which he blew four saves and compiled an 8.33 ERA in 31 appearances. He simply appeared to have run out of gas. Gomez does not miss bats nearly as often as typical closers do, which can be a problem in a hitter-friendly ballpark.

Joaquin Benoit is solid insurance for Gomez in the event he falters again. Benoit, 39, struggled with the Mariners but flourished with the Blue Jays after a trade, finishing out the season with a 0.38 ERA and a 24/9 K/BB ratio in 23 2/3 innings. He does have some closing experience, but he’ll be the setup man ahead of Gomez to start the season.

Hector Neris has the most potential of anyone in the Phillies’ bullpen. The 27-year-old posted an impressive 2.58 ERA with a 102/30 K/BB ratio in 80 1/3 innings. Everything about those stats looks good: he misses bats, doesn’t walk too many hitters, and is reliable on a day-in, day-out basis. He could be the Phillies’ closer of the future.

Veteran Pat Neshek will pitch in the middle innings. Youngsters Edubray Ramos, Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan, and others will join him in what will likely be a revolving door between the majors and Triple-A.

The bench will, for now, include Andres Blanco, Roman Quinn, Aaron Altherr, and others. Daniel Nava and Chris Coghlan, non-roster invitees, could merit inclusion. Joseph, Kendrick and Saunders may become bench players to some degree in the summer if Klentak deems any combination of Nick Williams, Brock Stassi, Dylan Cozens, and Rhys Hoskins worthy of some big league experience. Knapp, as mentioned, is competing with Hanigan and Holaday to back up Rupp.

The Phillies were the only team in the majors last year to average fewer than four runs per game, finishing at 3.77. Kendrick and Saunders are upgrades over the aggregate .615 and .634 OPS the Phillies got out of left and right field, respectively, last year. Benoit and Neshek add stability to what was a leaky bullpen. Those upgrades alone are likely to help manager Pete Mackanin’s squad make up some ground on their 71-91 record from the 2016 season.

Prediction: 73-89 record, 4th place in NL East