MLBTR is launching a new summer series entitled ’Taking Inventory,’ in which we’ll preview the potential trade chips that could become available on a number of likely and borderline selling clubs throughout the league.
Entering the season, the Phillies would’ve been on the short list of clubs that were near universally expected to be deadline sellers in 2017. Philadelphia’s rebuilding efforts have been well documented, and while there was plenty of promise thanks to young pieces such as Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff and Zach Eflin, that rebuilding effort was all but certain to continue.
Fast forward two months, and things in Philadelphia are more dire than nearly anyone could have predicted. At 21-37, Philadelphia has baseball’s worst record. They went 6-22 in the month of May. Their collective ERA is an MLB-worst 5.02, and they rank 26th in both runs scored and OBP. Suffice it to say, the 2017 season isn’t going well, and for a rebuilding team, that can only mean more trades to stockpile young talent. With that in mind, here’s a look at what the Phillies have to offer other clubs…
Pat Neshek, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $6.5MM
Acquired in what amounted to a salary dump this offseason, Neshek has been the Phillies’ best reliever in 2017. Through 22 innings, he’s pitched to a pristine 0.82 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and a 35.8 percent ground-ball rate. He’s always been a buzzsaw against right-handed opponents, but lefties have posted a woeful .143/.194/.176 batting line against the 36-year-old Neshek in 37 plate appearances this season. That’s obviously a small sample, but Neshek’s control against both lefties and righties has been markedly better in 2017 than in previous seasons, so some of the improvements against lefties could be legitimate.
Joaquin Benoit, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $7.5MM
Another bullpen stopgap, Benoit has pitched reasonably well when healthy enough to toe the rubber. He’s been on the disabled list since June 1 due to a knee sprain, but there’s no indication that the injury is serious in nature. Assuming he returns and demonstrates his health, Benoit should draw some interest for teams in need of middle relief and/or setup help. The 39-year-old veteran has totaled 22 innings of 3.68 ERA ball, averaging 7.8 K/9 against 4.9 BB/9 with a 30.9 percent ground-ball rate. Those numbers, of course, aren’t exactly outstanding, but virtually all of the damage against Benoit has been confined to two outings in 2017. He served up five runs in an epic meltdown on May 10 and another three on April 16. Benoit had tossed eight scoreless innings prior to his injury.
Jeanmar Gomez, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $4.2MM
The Phillies couldn’t drum up much interest in Gomez at last year’s trade deadline despite the fact that he was sporting a 2.77 ERA and 27 saves at the time of the trade deadline. Given his dismal 7.13 ERA and the loss of nearly one full mile per hour off his fastball through his first 17 2/3 innings this year, it’s not likely that Gomez will generate much intrigue. He’s posted a more encouraging 17-to-6 K/BB ratio (two of the walks being intentional) and a solid 52.8 percent ground-ball rate, though, so there’s at least some hope of a turnaround.
Jeremy Hellickson, RHP (starter) | Salary: $17.2MM
Like Neshek, Hellickson was acquired more or less as a salary dump — just one offseason prior. The former Rays top prospect had a rebound campaign with Philadelphia last year, tossing 189 innings with a 3.71 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 40.7 percent ground-ball rate. However, Hellickson was somewhat surprisingly not traded at last year’s deadline and, in another surprise, accepted a $17.2MM qualifying offer rather than seeking a larger guarantee on a multi-year deal in a weak market for starters. His strikeout rate has absolutely plummeted, as he’s punched out just 28 hitters in 66 innings (3.8 K/9). Hellickson is still showing good control, and his 4.50 ERA is at least respectable, but metrics like FIP (5.82), xFIP (5.88) and SIERA (5.77) all scream regression.
Howie Kendrick, LF/RF/2B/1B | Salary: $10MM
Yet another low-cost pickup for GM Matt Klentak, Kendrick has been on an all-out tear since returning from a DL stint for an abdominal strain. The versatile 33-year-old (34 next month) is hitting .333/.378/.522 on the season. That production comes with a ridiculous and unsustainable .422 average on balls in play, but Kendrick has a pair of homers, five doubles and a triple on the season thus far to go along with three steals. With his versatility and experience, he could appeal to a vast number of contenders if he can sustain some of this production.
Michael Saunders, RF/LF | Salary: $9MM
With a .213/.262/.377 batting line through his first 195 plate appearances on the season, Saunders looks more like a release candidate than a trade candidate. But he’s not far removed from an outrageously good first half in 2016, and if he can rebound at the plate, the Phils could find a taker to absorb a bit of his salary. There’s an $11MM club option with a $1MM buyout attached to Saunders’ deal, but it’d take a remarkable turnaround for the Phillies or any other team to consider exercising it.
Daniel Nava, RF/LF/1B | Salary: $1.35MM
A minor league signee that has paid dividends thus far, Nava is sporting a high-quality .306/.429/.452 triple slash through a modest sample of 77 plate appearances. Nava’s not going to command much of a return even if he continues to hit well, but the veteran switch-hitter could be a nice bench piece for a contending club.
Andres Blanco, SS/2B/3B/1B | Salary: $3MM
Blanco was a quietly productive bench piece for the Phils from 2015-16, but he’s not going to draw much interest with a .180/.268/.260 line. He’s tallied just 56 plate appearances this year, so he can turn things around in a hurry. The switch-hitter crushed lefties in 2015 and hit righties well in 2016. If he turns it on before July 31, he, like Nava, could be a bench piece elsewhere.
Controlled Through 2018
Freddy Galvis, SS | Salary: $4.4MM
Galvis posted the worst OBP in baseball in 2016 (.274) and was still worth better than two wins above replacement due to sensational defense at shortstop and a surprise 20-homer season. The 27-year-old switch-hitter is showing some power once again and playing good defense as well. With a .245/.297/.420 batting line, he’s not an elite shortstop, but that triple slash paired with his glove and baserunning could help a club both this year and next. Unfortunately for the Phillies, there aren’t many contenders in need of a starting shortstop. However, injuries can change the marketplace in a hurry, and some clubs may like the idea of Galvis as a defensive-minded bench piece with some pop.
Cameron Rupp, C; Tommy Joseph, 1B ; Cesar Hernandez, 2B ; Hector Neris, RHP (reliever) | All pre-arbitration
None of this bunch stands out as especially likely to be moved, but the Phillies do have promising alternatives in the minors that could take their place if a rival club makes an enticing offer. Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro both represent potential long-term options at catcher. Rhys Hoskins has 52 minor league homers dating back to Opening Day 2016 and could step in for Joseph at first base. Second base prospect Scott Kingery is having a monster season in Double-A. The Phils have a number of enticing young arms that could slot into the ninth inning, with Edubray Ramos already in the Majors and several promising arms in the upper minors.
Rupp and Hernandez are controlled through the 2020 season, while Neris is controlled through 2021 and Joseph all the way through 2022.