We’re mere hours from the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline, and nope, the Phillies haven’t yet pulled a trigger on a deal. They haven’t sold off Jeremy Hellickson or Carlos Ruiz. Jeanmar Gomez is still here, as is Cody Asche. The post-RollMan double-play combo of GalSar still exists.
Yes, even Vince Velasquez is still here.
So while we’re mindlessly refreshing Twitter, wondering when a deal might break, let’s ask the question few have asked: What if the Phillies don’t make a trade? What are the consequences of standing pat, and how will it affect others in the system?
Let’s run through the roster:
Cameron Rupp probably won’t get dealt, though there’s reason to move him now, as his value has never been higher. That said, Rupp is still young for a catcher and there’s no certainty yet behind him on the depth chart.
Which is to say it’s unlikely Andrew Knapp or Jorge Alfaro would be promoted to the Phillies if Ruiz is moved. There’s no reason to bring up Knapp or Alfaro simply to back up Rupp at this late stage in 2016. Chances are the Phils will engage Rupp, Knapp and Alfaro in a battle for opening-day starter in spring training.
Ruiz staying put basically means no scrap-heap pickup to ensure carrying two catchers on the roster.
Hernandez and Galvis would make interesting depth infielders for contenders (such as the Mets, whose clubhouse is beginning to look like a “Game of Thrones” episode). They wouldn’t fetch anything noteworthy, though, but moving one of them helps in one respect: It gives J.P. Crawford a stairway to Philly.
Or does it? Crawford has looked fine but not outstanding in Lehigh Valley (.258/.336/.340). He could easily remain in triple-A through the season and be ready to go in spring training. And honestly, that seems like the best idea for the Phillies at this point.
The other interesting name is Jesmuel Valentin, the 22-year-old middle infielder with a solid bat, good eye and good defense who recently moved from Reading to Lehigh Valley. Despite his rapid ascent this year, it’s likely the Phils also wouldn’t rush him until spring training.
Asche is the most likely outfielder to be moved (now that Peter Bourjos is on the DL), but again, it’s unlikely a team would want a light-hitting left fielder with an average-at-best glove. Otherwise the Phils could pull off some wacky deal involving Odubel Herrera, but don’t bet on it.
So what happens if the same five guys (Asche, Herrera, Tyler Goeddel, Jimmy Paredes, Aaron Altherr) are here after 4 p.m.? What does that mean for Nick Williams, the most likely benefactor of an outfield trade?
Well, Williams (.283/.314/.459 in triple-A) probably waits until at least Sept. 1 to reach Philadelphia. And we say “at least” because Williams isn’t yet on the 40-man roster. It’s actually very possible the Phils wait until spring to promote Williams; if they do pull an early trigger, look for the Phils to dump Paredes.
But the point is this: Once Williams is here, he’s here as a starter. If it’s Sept. 1, that means Asche slides to the bench.
Hellickson is the Phils’ most obvious trade chip. If he’s dealt, it’s pretty clear that Jake Thompson (2.50 ERA, 87 K, 37 BB in 129 innings) earns a rightful spot in the major-league rotation.
We should mention the Rangers were reported as interested in Velasquez, but it would – justifiably – mean a large return.
So what if Hellickson (or Velasquez) isn’t dealt? Then the Phils likely keep the rotation as is until Sept. 1. Maybe they go to a six-man group in September, with Thompson getting four starts in a short stint. The Phils would have to add him to the 40-man roster, so expect them to move someone like Michael Mariot in response.
The other issue with not dealing Hellickson: He’s a free agent this offseason and eligible for a one-year qualifying offer. The Phils could submit to him an offer (likely $16.7 million). If Hellickson rejects it (thinking he could get a better long-term deal on the market), the Phils would gain a supplemental draft pick in 2017 (somewhere in the 25-40 range).
But if Hellickson accepts the offer, the Phils have Hellickson for another season (at least until June 15, 2017, when they’re finally allowed to trade him).
That wouldn’t be that bad – Hellickson has proven a solid back-end starter – but it would potentially block a young starter from reaching the major-league rotation.
Either way, Thompson’s likely arrival date in Philadelphia should be no later than opening day 2017.
Gomez is the most likely reliever to be dealt, and if so, the Phils basically move some things around. Maybe Luis Garcia returns. Maybe Elvis Araujo returns. Heck, Mariot has been good this season in Lehigh Valley … maybe he comes up.