The Phillies and Angels are discussing a deal that would send Brandon Marsh to Philadelphia, per Robert Murray of FanSided. The deal has been agreed to, per Jeff Passan of ESPN. Murray adds that catching prospect Logan O’Hoppe will be heading the other way.
The Phillies have been known to be looking for a center field addition for some time and seems like they have found one in Marsh. The 24-year-old was a high-profile prospect in recent years, having been selected in the second round of the 2016 draft. He then hit his way up the minor leagues, showing a penchant for walks but also a few too many strikeouts, while providing excellent outfield defense. That earned him a spot on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, coming in at #43 in 2020 and #38 last year.
Since reaching the majors last year, his output has been a bit of a mixed bag. He’s still providing very good defense, having already accrued ten Outs Above Average in 163 career games. However, his strikeout numbers have grown when facing the higher caliber of pitching in the major leagues. His 35.7% career strikeout rate is well above league average, which is 22.3% this year. He’s hit .226/.284/.353 in his big league tenure thus far, producing a wRC+ of 82, or 18% below league average. However, he’s still been worth 1.8 wins above replacement, in the estimation of FanGraphs.
For the Phils, they’ve given most of their center field playing time to Odubel Herrera and Matt Vierling this year, neither of whom have done enough to secure the job. Herrera has hit .238/.279/.378 for a wRC+ of 81, with defensive metrics split on his glovework. He has 3 Outs Above Average on the year but -2 Defensive Runs Saved. Vierling, meanwhile, has hit .240/.301/.335 for a 79 wRC+, with 1 OAA and -2 DRS.
Marsh may not provide an immediate upgrade with the bat but should at least have a floor of improved defense. Despite their 55-47 record that has them clinging to the final NL Wild Card spot, the Phils are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Their -17 OAA is 27th among MLB teams and their -24 DRS is 26th. Marsh will finish this year with between one and two years of MLB service time, meaning he still won’t have reached arbitration eligibility and will come with five remaining years of control.
As for the Angels, their 43-59 record has them well out of contention and clear sellers. Marsh wasn’t an obvious trade candidate given his lengthy stretch of remaining control, but they’ve dealt with an outfield logjam this year. Marsh has lined up next to Mike Trout and Taylor Ward most nights, with Jo Adell getting squeezed down to the minors. With Marsh now out of the picture, that should clear some runway for Adell to get more consistent MLB playing time.
They will also add an interesting catching prospect to their system in O’Hoppe. The 22-year-old was selected by the Phillies in the 23rd round of the 2018 draft. Since then, he’s been considered one of the top 30 prospects in the system by Baseball America in four straight seasons, climbing all the way up to #3 at this year’s midseason report. On their most recent list of the top 100 prospects across the entire sport, he came in at #89. FanGraphs is even more bullish, giving him the #50 slot. He has the reputation of a strong defensive catcher but has also been hitting well in the minors. He’s spent the entirety of this season in Double-A, hitting .269/.385/.492 for a 139 wRC+.