There’s no question that the Phillies are rebuilding, with some of their better prospects—see J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams and Jake Thompson—closing in on the Major Leagues. As a result, there was an expectation that general manager Matt Klentak would, at the least, trade away free agents-to-be Jeremy Hellickson and David Hernandez, both of whom are having strong seasons, and veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has a $4.5MM club option in 2017. But the first-year general manager came up empty during his first trade deadline.
As Klentak explained on a conference call earlier today, he was open-minded to making a deal and had dialogue with quite a few teams on a number of their players.
“We had offers out to other teams that, if accepted, we would have done,” Klentak said. “At the end of the day, there was nothing we felt made sense for the organization at this time.”
Citing a focus on appropriately balancing the present and the future, Klentak believes that Ruiz and Hellickson are playing a key role in the development of their younger players.
“We want to make sure our young players are being mentored by the right veterans,” Klentak explained. “Chooch has had a great career with the Phillies, and we value what he means to the organization and to the younger players. We like what he brings to this team.”
With regard to the 29-year-old Hellickson, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks last winter, Klentak stressed the importance of having a reliable innings-eater with many of the Phillies’ young pitchers beginning to approach innings totals that they haven’t reached in their careers.
“The reason we went out and acquired him last offseason is to provide stability to our rotation and mentor our young pitchers,” Klentak said. “I think he’s been outstanding in that role.”
While Klentak said that they have not determined whether Hellickson will be given a qualifying offer, which is estimated to be $16.7MM, they are mindful that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement could be in place by the offseason. With a very supportive ownership group and few future commitments, however, he wouldn’t rule it out. He also didn’t rule out the possibility of an August trade, although there are more hurdles to clear that would make it complicated.
As far as opening up playing time for young prospects, Klentak said that he never looked at the trade deadline as the platform that would allow them to play. The important thing, he said, is to call them up when they’re ready and never have to send them back because they’re not ready.
“[The lack of trades] doesn’t set back the timeline for any promotion,” he says. “We will promote them when they’re ready. If we need to create room, we will do so. There’s a decent chance we’ll see another somewhat notable promotion of a first-time big-leaguer before the season’s up.”