Might the Phillies trade Ken Giles?

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Phillies have been downplaying the possibility of trading closer Ken Giles, but notes that teams which have spoken with the Phillies expect them to trade the right-hander this winter or by the trading deadline at the end of July.

Giles, 25, has burst onto the scene as an elite reliever, brandishing a fastball that can reach triple digits while compiling a 1.56 ERA and a 151/36 K/BB ratio over 115 2/3 career innings. He took over as the Phillies’ closer when Jonathan Papelbon was dealt to the Nationals this past July. Giles will not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2017 season and can’t become a free agent until after the 2020 season.

The Padres’ trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox will serve as a barometer for the Phillies. While Kimbrel is an established hurler, Giles is younger, cheaper, and under team control for longer. The Red Sox sent four players, including highly-regarded outfield prospect Manuel Margot, to the Padres in the deal, so the Phillies would likely ask for a similar or better return. Indeed, Stark quotes an anonymous executive who suggests the Phillies are looking for “two or three” high-ceiling prospects.

The Phillies are under no pressure to trade Giles to facilitate their rebuilding process. They’re expected to become competitive again within the next two or three years, and Giles likely would be productive and affordable enough to contribute to a playoff-contending ballclub. So if the Phillies can’t find an offer that whets their appetite, they can simply hang onto Giles.