Phillies Mailbag: Trading Velasquez, Nola, Keuchel & 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 is Vince Velasquez's trade value? I think I'm on-board if dealing Velasquez helps bring in a guy who can solidify the back end of the bullpen. But who is / will be available?
If you have not read my piece earlier, I suggested that the Phillies move on from Phillies starter Vince Velasquez, due to his unwillingness to follow the game plan of catcher J.T. Realmuto. But unfortunately for everyone involved, I am not sure that a Velasquez trade brings a whole lot in return.
First, we must consider what type of team would be willing to take on Velasquez. You could find a team that is desperate for a starter - any starter - to just throw some innings. Velasquez has experience and at the same time does surprise with a solid, lengthy start.
That may lead a team to give up some lower-level organizational depth that could turn into talent. The Los Angeles Angels come to mind.
The other type of team to acquire Velasquez will be one who can have some patience and also some confidence that they can get him to be more efficient with his pitches. With two more years of team control left after 2019, this could be an investment for later.
I am thinking someone like the Texas Rangers or San Francisco Giants would make sense. Should Velasquez turn it around, perhaps they can flip him in a trade.
But contenders are going to be the ones who pony up the most talent, and right now the Phillies are on the contender side and cannot be patient like some other teams. Contenders probably do not want to let themselves be frustrated by Velasquez, unless they really feel that they can get through to him in a way others have not.
Aaron Nola is making small improvements in a handful of his last few starts, but still not “Nola-like”. Are you noticing anything in his mechanics, arm angle or pitch sharpness that would indicate he truly is beginning to turn the corner? Or do you have continued concerns?
One thing about Phillies starter Aaron Nola that I mentioned frequently this offseason even as they upgraded in other areas: there is no way Nola could repeat his strong 2018. That is why I advocated for the Phillies to make upgrades and try to make the playoffs last season.
But despite opening the season with three of his worst starts in recent memory, I do have confidence Nola will turn things around. Sometimes it's not his mechanics; sometimes intangibles get in the way.
Did he feel pressure to repeat last season? Did all the new acquisitions such as Bryce Harper make him feel like he had to do more? How about his new contract with $45 million guaranteed: is that putting extra pressure on Nola?
The sample size is still rather small. But in terms of anything catching my attention or being alarming - I have not seen anything yet. Let's see how he does in St. Louis tonight against the tough Cardinals lineup.
What’s the word on Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel? Any interest from the Phillies? Or any team?
Both Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel set high-dollar and high-year contract demands this offseason. But even though it is May 7 and there are six weeks of major league games already complete, neither player seems to be willing to budge from their demands. That is just stubborn.
Kimbrel scared teams away from the start with reported requests of six years and $100 million. This was coming off some questionable postseason performances, and with even Kenley Jansen getting one less year and much less money. It was as if no team really wanted to engage either player.
As for Keuchel, an article from Tim Brown on Yahoo! Sports yesterday quotes Keuchel as saying he "knows what he's worth" and that he "won't settle". If teams were not interested at that evaluation, then why would they be now? No team is desperate enough at this point.
As for now, either player would cost the team who signs him a draft pick. That adds to the steep price in a way that keeps teams from being interested. After the June draft, that compensation goes away. If then the players are only due a prorated amount of what they're worth - maybe the Phillies give one a shot.
But for now - I would go Cole Irvin before adding Keuchel, and I see what a healthy bullpen looks like before Kimbrel.