Gabe Kapler’s Philadelphia Phillies weathered the storm of a difficult schedule in June. They are very much in the race for the the National League East and one of the two National League Wild Card spots. Considering the Phillies will only play two teams with winning records in July, they figure to only become more serious contenders over the course of July. And about the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline? Kapler says he trusts general manager Matt Klentak and his front-office.
Kapler appeared on the SportsRadio 94 WIP morning show Tuesday, and said that rather than the Phillies having expectations for what will happen this month, they have trust in the process that their front-office is executing:
“It’s more trust, rather than expectations. We trust that if we do our jobs and we do our jobs well – and when I say our, I mean our clubhouse as a uniform personnel – that Matt Klentak will work as hard as he can to reinforce our unit. And he’s proven that. We saw that. He’s added a bat in the middle of the lineup – Carlos Santana…strength in the bullpen…a front-line starting pitcher. He saw a good capable group of talented individuals and added those pieces. Now our clubhouse is extremely confident in our front office to continue to find helpful pieces. So they – and when I say “they” I mean Matt, [assistant general manager] Ned Rice, [assistant general manager] Bryan Minniti, our entire front office – they’re teammates and we believe in their work. So rather than expectations, it’s trust.”
We’re 27 days away from the non-waiver trade deadline, but the rumor mill has heated up rather early for the Phillies.
The San Diego Padres had a scout at the Phillies win over the Baltimore Orioles 3-2, propelled by Maikel Franco’s tremendous play to end the eighth inning. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted late in June that the Padres have interest in Franco. The relief-needy Phillies could also have interest in any of Brad Hand, Craig Stammen or Kirby Yates. The guess here is that the Phillies, perhaps a year ahead of schedule, would be more willing to meet the asking-price for Stammen or Yates. Franco could also be part of the price for either Stammen or Yates, both of whom are in the midst of career years.
Manny Machado was cheered heavily when Dan Baker introduced him at Citizens Bank Park Tuesday night. The Baltimore Orioles star figures to get the same treatment this afternoon. But while Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported last week that the Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers have been the two most aggressive pursuers of Machado, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported Tuesday that the Phillies are still ‘longshots’ to trade for the three-time All-Star. That doesn’t mean the Phillies won’t sign Machado this offseason when he tests free-agency, but trading for him just prior to free-agency appears less likely.
While trading for future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre also appears fairly unlikely, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported last week that the Phillies have had fairly substantive conversations with the Kansas City Royals regarding two-time All-Star Mike Moustakas. The 2015 World Series champion would provide the Phillies with an immediate upgrade at third base. The aforementioned Franco, currently manning third base, could be dealt. J.P. Crawford is currently out with a broken hand. When he returns, while he’s been a better fielder at third, it may be best if he split time at his natural position of shortstop with the struggling Scott Kingery.
Heyman mentioned yesterday that there’s some buzz around the league about a potential reunion between the Phillies and Texas Rangers LHP Cole Hamels. The Phillies aren’t one of the 20 teams that Hamels could block a trade to, which would making facilitating a trade easier. But besides their existing history, it’s hard to see how Hamels is a fit at this stage. The 34-year-old currently has a 4.05 ERA and 5.00 FIP in in 17 starts. He certainly wouldn’t be an upgrade over Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin or Nick Pivetta at this stage, and while Jake Arrieta’s 2018 season has been a very mixed bag, he’s not going anywhere.
One other area that the Phillies could potentially upgrade at is right field. While many entered the season with the belief that both Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr were capable of starting in the outfield, neither have performed that way in 2018. While Williams has thrived as a pinch-hitter this season, he’s hit .205 as a starter. Altherr is slashing .174/.290/.311 this season. The Phillies may not hate the idea of getting a few more months to look at Williams and Altherr. They probably don’t want to acquire someone that would be entrenched in right field past the end of this season either, with Bryce Harper set to become a free-agent after the season and the possibility that Kingery could be pushed to right field depending on what other transactions are made in the infield. But a rental outfielder, such as Curtis Granderson of the Toronto Blue Jays, could make sense.
In any event, the Phillies figure to be active. And Kapler trusts Klentak, who tabbed him to be the Phillies 54th manager last October.