Commentary

Should the Phillies Cut Ties With Asche?

Should the Philadelphia Phillies cut ties with Cody Asche? It’s an interesting question, really. My initial instinct was “yes, absolutely trade him!” But now after re-thinking the question, I am not so sure the team should part ways with Asche just yet.

There is reason to let the versatile Asche go.  Although he will likely end up in the outfield again, Asche’s role is still unclear. His main position is 3rd base, but Maikel Franco earned that spot with his .280 batting average and 14 home runs last season. Franco is the reason Asche was moved to left field in the first place. That brings up the next point for parting ways with the Nebraska product: his defense.

Asche’s transition to the outfield was nothing special. He got the job done, but wasn’t exactly flashing leather. To be honest, his defense at third base isn’t much better.  The Phils’ 4th round draft choice from 2011 has a career -13.4 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) at third base, which Fan Graphs labels “poor” and nearing the “awful” category. His outfield rating isn’t a great step up at -9.4. Thus, he’s not going to win any Gold Gloves regardless of where he plays. However, outfield mistakes are crucial, as many of them lead to extra bases. A reliable, defensive outfielder with a strong arm is important, but to be fair, Asche is still early into his transition from infield to outfield.

The facts are lining up against Asche. The question is, who replaces him? That is the strongest reason I have for keeping Asche. Odubel Herrera has center field locked up after his surprising .297/.344/.418 rookie year. On the other hand, the corners are still open.  Aaron Altherr could likely get the right field position, but he still needs to prove himself worthy of an everyday gig.  The Phillies have some top prospects for the outfield like Roman Quinn and Nick Williams, but unless proven differently in Spring Training, they are not quite Major League ready yet.

With Peter Bourjos and Rule 5 selection Tyler Goeddel added this off-season both are primed to make the club, as Bourjos is due $2 million and Goeddel must be offered back to the Rays if he is not retained at the big league level.

It’s common that MLB rosters include five outfielders, so the math for keeping Asche seems just right in that regard.

At this stage of the rebuilding process, the Phillies don’t need a superstar; they can use an average player to fill the void until the ship’s fully ready to make that 180-degree turn. Asche’s that guy. Baseball-Reference predicts him to hit .252 with 13 home runs in 2016. That’s all the Phillies need at this point in time. In the event that he doesn’t perform on a daily basis, he could become a valuable utility man and the possible best role for him may be in a platoon with Bourjos in left field to maximize each man’s strengths.

In addition, the Phillies aren’t adding any free agents to play the outfield or they’d have done it already.

VoteAscheAsche is only making a half-million and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2017. He is just 25 years old.  It really isn’t costing the Phillies much to keep him.  More numbers in Asche’s favor.

Do I see Asche with the Phillies long term? No. Should the right trade opportunity arise, then yes, make a deal that is beneficial for all parties.  However, at the moment, I don’t see a big reason to get rid of him. I would give him a chance to raise his trade value this season, letting him shine in 2016, and part ways later on.

 

Phillies Nation’s Jay Floyd contributed to this article

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