Raising Questions

What if the Phillies wanted Carlos Gonzalez?

cargoThis week, in honor of the upcoming Winter Meetings and the craziness that is baseball trade rumors, we’re presenting a few fun trade ideas the Phillies could indulge. Sit back, grab some popcorn, and act like these ideas aren’t nuts.

The Phillies don’t seem to be big players on the free agent market, but the possibly of a trade isn’t out of the question. Last week, the Phils bolstered their outfield with the acquisition of Howie Kendrick and now have two of the puzzle pieces solved for 2017.

But is what they now have enough for 2017? Do we really want to see another year of Cody Asche, Tyler Goeddel or a Peter Bourjos type?

Let’s explore a trade that could land a bonafide slugger. My wish this offseason is to land Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies.

The 31-year-old wouldn’t come cheap given his impressive resume. A likely scenario to acquire Gonzalez would be at the expense of Odubel Herrera, Ben Lively, and a prospect toward the higher levels, leaning toward pitching. Shipping Herrera and Lively to Colorado would be tough to swallow, but acquiring an all star that can fast track the rebuild is a win.

The lefty swinger is a three time all star, three-time Gold Glove winner and two-time Silver Slugger award winner. Gonzalez is a career .291 hitter who has belted 65 home runs and drove in just shy of 200 runs over the last two seasons. In every season Gonzalez has played at least 110 games (six seasons) – he has hit more than 20 home runs; driven in more than 80 runs five times; and maintained a batting average over .295 and on-base percentage over .350 five times.

Gonzalez’s BABIP is a career .336. When the right fielder puts the ball in play, he does damage. Another stat to call out: offensive win percentage: A team with nine Carlos Gonzalezes in the lineup would win more than 66 percent of their games. Herrera’s OWin% is at 59 percent. It shows Gonzalez is clear upgrade.

With Gonzlaez, the outfield would consist of Howie Kendrick in left, Roman Quinn in center and Gonzalez in right. The only caveat in this outfield scenario is the health of Roman Quinn. For that, Aaron Altherr would be the fourth outfielder and would take over for anyone in an injury.

The rotation wouldn’t look different heading into the 2017 season. With Jeremy Hellickson accepting the $17.2 qualifying offer on Monday, the Phils have four locks: Hellickson, Eickhoff, Velasquez and Nola. Lively was going to have to pitch his way into the rotation with a strong spring training. What plays into the Phillies’ favor is starter depth, including Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Alec Asher. So while trading a young talented prospect in Lively is never easy, having the this much depth makes him more expendable.

Now, getting to the fun part. What would the lineup look like with Carlos Gonzalez in it? This is how I would see it playing out:

  1. Roman Quinn
  2. Cesar Hernandez
  3. Maikel Franco
  4. Carlos Gonzalez
  5. Tommy Joseph
  6. Howie Kendrick/Cameron Rupp/Jorge Alfaro
  7. Rupp/Alfaro/Kendrick
  8. Freddy Galvis
  9. Pitcher

All of a sudden, the meat of this order looks dangerous. With Quinn and Hernandez’s ability to get on-base, it will pay major dividends for someone like Franco. And maybe Joseph will hit a couple of two- and three-run homers next year (15 of his 21 home runs in 2016 were solo blasts). This type of offense has the potential to be explosive.

Gonzalez, who is 31, has one year remaining on his current deal with the Rockies and is poised to make $20 million in 2017 (this will help lessen the kind of return the Rockies would expect on a deal). The Phillies would have to acquire him with the expectation of extending him at least another three years. Although CarGo still produced last season, a change of scenery with new young blood in the Phillies clubhouse could raise his game even more. The Rockies have not reached the playoffs since 2009 and have been under .500 every year since 2010. With Gonzalez in Phillies pinstripes, he could pull the Phils closer to wild card contention.

But wait, what about Herrera, who was an all star in 2016? Maybe the Phils gamble that Herrera has hit his peak, and frankly, his lack of focus in the second half last season left me a little concerned. Not that it means everything, but CarGo has a proven track record and is less of a gamble. That makes the move worthwhile.

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