In case you went to bed after last night’s win over Atlanta, the Phillies have a slightly different look now.
First, they traded Howie Kendrick and cash to Washington for left-handed pitcher Mackenzie Mills and international pool money.
Then they traded Jeremy Hellickson (who was removed from his starting spot Friday) and cash to Baltimore for left-handed pitcher Garrett Cleavinger, outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and international pool money.
What does it mean?
It means the Phillies have done more than expected at the trade deadline. Popular opinion was the Phils would have to wait until the waiver deadline in August to deal an oft-injured Kendrick, while there wasn’t a ton of talk about a market for Hellickson, who has performed at a subpar level this season. But the Nationals sought an outfield bench bat, and the Orioles needed pitching depth despite being somewhat out of playoff contention. The Phils decided to eat salary for the rest of the year in order to get something back in return.
About the return
Prospects are always lottery tickets; the best prospects sometimes flame out (we’ve seen that one before) while under-the-radar talent often emerges into useful major leaguers. Here the Phils got a few lottery tickets, though one would surmise that Mills has the higher upside right now, compared to Cleavinger. Mills is a projectable lefty with good strikeout stuff and a few working pitches beyond his fastball. Cleavinger is older, and there are worries that he has hit his ceiling, but Orioles pitching prospects are hard to peg, and sometimes a change of scenery works. The bottom line is we don’t know if either Mills or Cleavinger will develop into effective major league arms. But they were both top-30 prospects in their respective organizations, and at least qualify as stellar depth in the Phils system.
The more interesting facet of the return is the international pool money, of which the Phils gained a reported $1 million. They now have a pot of approximately $5.7 million to spend over the next 11 months. The Phils have thrived in the international arena, especially in the Caribbean. This should help.
We’ll get to Kim in a moment.
As for the roster
The Hellickson trade means someone needs to step into the rotation. Maybe it’s Jake Thompson, who pitched well Friday. Then again, the Phils can bring Ben Lively up to Philly for the spot. Or Mark Leiter Jr. Regardless, the Phils would likely have to add a reliever, and maybe that means Ricardo Pinto comes back to the big leagues.
The Kendrick trade opened up an outfield spot for a moment, but the Kim acquisition in the Hellickson trade signals that the front office probably knows its gameplan for the rest of the year in the outfield. Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams will get the starts out there, and Kim and Cam Perkins are your likely bench bats. Dylan Cozens is not coming yet (he’d need everyday time out there, and it just isn’t possible with this configuration), nor is Andrew Pullin.
Any more trades?
There doesn’t seem to be a healthy Tommy Joseph market, so don’t anticipate any move there. More likely, look for Joseph to stay at first until September, when Rhys Hoskins gets the call and a bunch of big league starts. That may not be optimal, but it’s the reality.
Also, unless there’s something wild regarding Maikel Franco, Cameron Rupp, Cesar Hernandez or Herrera, don’t expect any more moves at the moment. It’s possible the Phils will try to move Daniel Nava and Joaquin Benoit by the waiver deadline. The one wild card name on my list – Hector Neris – would be great deadline candidate, but the Phils may just want to hold onto some suitable relief pitching this year. Can’t blame ’em.