The asking prices for starting pitching don’t appear to be dipping even as some more supply hits the market, according to reports from ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick and Jayson Stark (Twitter link). Both the Rays and Phillies are said to be seeking significant returns on their best trade assets, buttressed by the idea that they don’t have to sell.
For Tampa Bay, the fact remains that none of its starters are set to reach free agency after the season, so there’s no real urgency to deal. The Rays’ surplus of controllable arms isn’t such a pressing matter that a deal is necessary, and none of its apparent trade pieces is really pitching to expectations. Jake Odorizzi has been steady enough, but the others — Chris Archer, Matt Moore, and Drew Smyly — have at best been inconsistent. Against that backdrop, perhaps it’s unsurprising that appealing offers have apparently not yet developed.
There’s plenty of time between now and the August 1st deadline for that to change, of course, but sources suggest to Crasnick that the odds are shifting towards a move over the winter. The Rays can hope that its starters turn around their performances while still feeling comfortable that the demand will be there given with a weak pending free agent class. As an executive on a buy-side teams explains it: “There’s no urgency for them to do stuff now. They can set a price, and if they don’t get it, they’ll take it into the offseason.”
As for the Phillies, the deadline is more or less all about one name: Jeremy Hellickson. According to Stark, the Phils are letting other teams know that they will require a top-five type of organizational prospect in order to part with the resurgent righty. Though he’s a free agent, Philadelphia is apparently content with the idea that it can recoup value via the qualifying offer.
That trade stance seems like an interesting gambit that the Phillies organization is well-positioned to try. Hellickson has been lights-out of late, and the rental market is otherwise headlined by an injured Rich Hill and inconsistent Andrew Cashner. Actually holding onto Hellickson is not certain to result in a draft pick — he might fall off in the next several months or could accept a QO — but it’s a plausible enough idea at this point given that Philly has ample financial muscle to actually make him an offer even in the midst of a rebuild.