Phillies Mailbag: Trades, Minor, Keuchel and Kimbrel
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.
What would you prioritize going into next month's trade deadline?
The Phillies are certainly not without holes. Some are caused by injury; the Phillies currently have an unbelievable 10 players on injured list. Of course, the arrest of Odubel Herrera created an extra hole on the Phillies roster, thanks to a long period of administrative leave while an investigation takes place. Heading to the deadline, I would have three main pieces on my shopping list.
1. Left-Handed Starter
As we saw last night, the Phillies simply cannot count on Jerad Eickhoff. It would be one thing if the Phillies were without other question marks in the rotation. But we see Aaron Nola having struggles time to time. Jake Arrieta has been an ace and has been not. Nick Pivetta looks great right now, but he also looked really bad. And can the Phillies expect Zach Eflin to keep things going?
I would like to see the Phillies find a reliable left-handed starter to complement Nola, Arrieta, Pivetta, and Eflin. I would keep Vince Velasquez in the bullpen, especially with the large number of bullpen injuries at the moment.
2. Back-End Reliever
The Phillies currently have no real reliable arm beyond Hector Neris, the closer, and Jose Alvarez, who can get left-handed outs at the back end. The Phillies need someone who can be a veteran presence, preferably from the right side, who can get outs in the seventh and eighth inning.
Yes, the Phillies could get the following back in a timely manner: Tommy Hunter, Adam Morgan, Pat Neshek, and Edubray Ramos. But the Phillies could be without Seranthony Dominguez, David Robertson, and Victor Arano for the year.
Mike Ferrin, who called last night's game on the radio for the Arizona Diamondbacks and is a host for MLB Network Radio, called the disabled list relievers a "contender's bullpen". But without at least three of them for good, the Phillies need another arm. Ken Giles, the former Phillies closer, could make sense.
3. Natural Center Fielder
The Phillies should not be without left-handed hitting outfield prospect Adam Haseley for too long. Though Haseley came up big with an RBI single in his second big league start, he promptly hit the injured list. While he might be helpful, a veteran outfielder would help.
While he has yet to play center field this year, I'd keep an eye on what happens to Cameron Maybin with the New York Yankees. Once they have their many injured players return to the roster, namely Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, Maybin could be a good piece to help the Phillies roster.
Why don't the Phillies try to pick up Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers?
The Phillies have tried to get left-handed starter Mike Minor. They were looking at him this past offseason, and according to published reports, teams have tried to trade for him this season. But he simply might not be available.
As I pointed out on Twitter last night, the Texas Rangers are just 1.5 games behind the Phillies in terms of record. The Rangers may actually look to add, even though they were presumed to be sellers this season when it began. This morning, Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com Tweeted that the Rangers could go either way and are preparing "buy" and "sell" scenarios.
If the Phillies are going to add a left-handed starter, Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants could be available via trade. Of the teams reportedly interested before, the Atlanta Braves would be out of it, since they just spent $13 million to add Dallas Keuchel.
Why weren't the Phillies in on either Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel?
While both reliever Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel were available as recently as a week ago and could be had for just money, I think the Phillies were wise to avoid both. The Phillies likely did their due diligence, but there was enough to give them pause from doing such a deal.
The Case Against Kimbrel
The Phillies might have been interested in Kimbrel if he was willing to do a one-year deal. But ultimately the price was driven up by a couple of teams: the Minnesota Twins who are surprise contenders and could really use a closer, and the Chicago Cubs, who find themselves perhaps in their last moment of contention and do not want to let the 2019 season end without them going for one more run.
Kimbrel trended downward some last year. He was not the Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves or San Diego Padres. While he has never blown a postseason save, we saw the Boston Red Sox turn to Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi for big outs at the back end of games. Is a three-year commitment wise?
The Case Against Keuchel
Ultimately, the Atlanta Braves spent $13 million on Keuchel for the rest of the year. That's not a year's salary prorated; that was essentially a $21 million salary prorated. That means that the Phillies would essentially wipe out their entire available space under the Competitive Balance Tax ("luxury tax") threshold on just one player.
There will probably be other options in trade that hit that amount for less and would allow them perhaps to fill all three needs I mentioned above. While it's true they can spend past that amount, they might be wiser to wait until next year to do that and hold on to some of the prospects and draft picks they might lose if they exceed the tax.
The Atlanta Braves are still in a rough spot. The international signing scandal has hit them deep. Their international bonus pool for 2019 is $0. They cannot afford to give up any prospects right now. In fact, the Keuchel signing might be their last move.
So while the National League East rival gets a boost now, that is likely it. The Phillies have some room to work with money-wise, and they have some prospects, too. I can see the Phillies filling a left-handed starter need in a way that allows for more.