Royals left-handed reliever Jake Diekman continues to generate a solid amount of interest leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. Along with the previously reported Nationals and Dodgers, Diekman is on the Phillies’ radar, according to Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com.
Notably, Diekman entered the pros as a 30th-round pick of the Phillies in 2007 and then pitched for the team from 2012-15. The Phillies said goodbye to Diekman in the last of those seasons when they dealt him and Cole Hamels to the Rangers in a blockbuster swap.
This year’s Phillies won Friday to improve to 50-47, but their so-so record puts them 7 1/2 games back of the NL East-leading Braves. While the Phillies are tied for the NL’s second wild-card spot, it’s up for debate how aggressive they should be heading into the deadline. President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail suggested last week the Phillies aren’t necessarily in position to make blockbuster additions before the end of the month. It’s unlikely his mind has changed in light of the up-and-down way the team has continued to play since MacPhail assessed its performance.
If Philadelphia is focused on making modest pickups to better its chances at earning a wild-card berth, Diekman would qualify. While the 32-year-old’s 4.89 ERA and 5.35 BB/9 in 38 2/3 innings say he wouldn’t do much to help the Phillies’ woeful bullpen, the rest of his numbers indicate otherwise. Diekman has notched a 3.60 FIP, 13-plus strikeouts per nine, a 47 percent groundball rate and induced infield flies at a 20 percent clip. He has also produced useful results against both lefties (.299 wOBA) and righties (.307).
Diekman does have a $5.75MM mutual option for 2020, which could make him more than a rental for an acquiring team if he pitches well down the stretch. Regardless, with the Royals nowhere near contention, he’s one of their prime trade chips remaining. The club has already dealt fellow veterans Homer Bailey and Martin Maldonado within the past week.