Phillies GM Matt Klentak must see upside in bounceback starters like Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton, tweets ESPN’s Jayson Stark (1, 2). Both pitchers are a year from free agency. As Stark puts it, the club gave up replaceable parts for the chance to re-market them to contending clubs at the trade deadline. From my perspective both pitchers also give the Phillies the opportunity to compete in the weak NL East. Philadelphia took some momentum into the offseason with a solid second half. While a hypothetical rebound campaign would probably ultimately sputter like the Braves’ 2015 season, it doesn’t hurt to put some parts in position just in case. The Phillies also have several pitching prospects due to debut during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Hellickson and Morton can hold the door just long enough for the next guy.
Here’s more from the rest of the division:
- The Marlins inquired about Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Talks promptly concluded when the Nationals asked for outfielder Christian Yelich in return. It’s possible the Marlins see Gonzalez as a match for Marcell Ozuna (my speculation), but it’s always hard to work out an in-division trade – especially when both teams aim to contend.
- Even though former Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer is now off the books, the club isn’t likely to jump on top outfielders like Yoenis Cespedes, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The $12.5MM saved from Cuddyer (assuming there was no buyout), will probably be used on quality bench depth. The team improved dramatically when they acquired Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. Ensuring that similarly valuable players are available to fill cracks in the roster will better serve the Mets hunt for contention.
- It may be time for the Braves to trade Freddie Freeman, suggests Mike Petriello of MLB.com. The trades of Shelby Miller and Andrelton Simmons have focused the club’s talent in the minor leagues. Freeman could be used to acquire another impressive haul. The Braves are already gearing up for a lengthy rebuilding process, so they might as well get top dollar for Freeman before he begins to decline.
- Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa wants to start at shortstop next season, writes Todd Dybas of the Washington Times. After two consecutive bad seasons, Espinosa rebounded in 2015 with a 2.3 WAR campaign. Good defense in a utility role plus an improvement at the plate to roughly league average helped. He improved his plate discipline which looks like a sustainable fix. Even with the solid season, Espinosa will have to hold off top prospect Trea Turner. Acquired in the Steven Souza trade, Turner appears ready for a major league opportunity.