Phillies Mailbag: Smyly, Trade Deadline and the “Untouchables”
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday. Send your questions anytime on Twitter to @FrankKlose or send a text to the text board at 609-403-0973.
Does Drew Smyly have a chance to sick in the Phillies starting rotation?
The Phillies signed left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly last week, and the Phillies were his third organization this season. The Milwaukee Brewers, who just lost top starter Brandon Woodruff to an oblique injury, probably wish they had held onto Smyly just a bit longer. The Phillies, who signed Smyly as a stopgap, probably will have opportunities for him to pitch for a while.
The Phillies recently sent starter Nick Pivetta to the bullpen to make room for Smyly. This move took place even though the Phillies already once demoted Vince Velasquez to the bullpen, and even though Velasquez has pitched like he belongs in the bullpen in his role as a starter. Further, the Phillies might be concerned about starter Zach Eflin, who described himself as feeling "heavy" after losing his last start.
These three rotation spots are all spots Smyly could continue to fill. That's even before considering that Jake Arrieta is pitching with bone chips in his elbow and may need a break. There is plenty of room for rotation opportunities.
That said, the Phillies will likely add pitching at the trade deadline between now and July 31. But even if that is the case, Smyly could find himself with continued chances in the rotation as long as he impresses. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler likened Smyly to Cliff Lee after the last start.
Kapler was quick to say that he was not implying he would be the dominant ace Lee once was. But Smyly has long been likened to Lee. Both went to school at Arkansas. Both are lefties. Both have the same agent. Until this past start, Smyly had worn number 33 (Lee's number with the Rangers and Phillies) his whole career. Smyly's delivery looks a little Lee-ish, in the way Charlie Morton's looks like Roy Halladay's.
But results are results, and the Phillies would happily take six innings and one earned run from their mid- to back-end starters any way. If that keeps happening, Smyly will stick around.
Will the Phillies make a meaningful trade at the deadline?
The Phillies are at least active in dialogue with teams over some of the bigger names on the trade market. On Monday, there were reports that linked the Phillies to both Zach Greinke and Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks, as well as linking the Phillies to Matthew Boyd and Shane Greene of the Detroit Tigers. Particularly interesting is that Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is headed to Detroit with the Phillies for this two-game set.
Klentak probably does not go to Detroit to see the Phillies play two games in a 24-hour span unless he was willing to make a deal or at least wished to talk trade with Detroit general manager Al Avila.
At the very least, the Phillies are exploring. The encouraging thing is that the team is not seemingly settling for marginal acquisitions, such as they did last season when they added players such as Wilson Ramos, Asdrubal Cabrera, or Jose Bautista to the offense and relievers such as Aaron Loup and Luis Avilan to the bullpen. They appear to be looking for impact arms.
A week ago, all looked lost after the Phillies were embarrassed by the Los Angeles Dodgers 16-2. But they are 4-2 since and seem like they are planning to hang around, under the leadership of Bryce Harper, who has been laying it all out. Making even the Wild Card in 2019 would be helpful for the future. So, the Phillies appear to be willing to make some impact moves.
Who is untouchable in the Phillies system for trades?
The Phillies do not have a loaded farm system. In fact, just two prospects appear on the top 100 list on MLB.com's MLB Pipeline. 2018 draft pick Alec Bohm is number 37, while pitcher Adonis Medina is number 76. I think the Phillies, though, may only be worried about keeping one player, and that is Bohm.
The Phillies seem to prefer trading for talent that remains under team control. That is why I think the Phillies would be willing to include Medina in a trade. It is one thing to miss out on the six years of Medina, but if the Phillies get two years beyond 2019 for someone like Matthew Boyd, I can see them doing so, as they were willing to give up Sixto Sanchez for two full years of J.T. Realmuto.
I think the Phillies would prefer to hang onto Spencer Howard, if possible, though maybe not calling him "untouchable". Howard is a 2017 second round pick currently assigned to Class-A Advanced Clearwater. Howard is ranked fifth on the MLB.com Pipeline of Phillies prospects, but some consider him the top Phillies pitching prospect. Howard is 2-1 with a 1.79 earned run average in nine starts.
I also think the Phillies would prefer to hold on to either Adam Haseley or Mickey Moniak. I tend to think that Haseley's left-handed bat is a better fit for the Phillies in center field, a position he could inherit beginning in 2020. The value for the two players could be simliar; Haseley's nice week at the plate with two doubles and two home runs could open some eyes.
In terms of Bohm, many project Bohm to be a left fielder or designated hitter long-term. The Phillies might get Bohm into their lineup next season at third base and try to get to Andrew McCutchen's free agency after 2021 with Bohm at third base. But having Bohm, Moniak, and Haseley all in the outfield is not much of a fit, considering Bryce Harper is signed for 12 more seasons.
But generally speaking, outfielders are easier to acquire than pitching, as we saw the Phillies add two starting outfielders this past offseason.
I think the Phillies more than anything are eager to see Bohm's bat in a Phillies uniform soon. I think Howard's pitching potential has the team intrigued and it would take quite the opportunity to move him. But for now, only Bohm stands out as someone I think the Phillies must keep.