Offseason Overview: Which pitcher should the Phillies trade for?

This week we’re looking at the Phillies’ biggest holes in anticipation of the offseason. How will they fill the holes? That’s what we’re after in the offseason preview.

Aaron Nola

Fixing the starting rotation with a trade

Corey Sharp outlined the current state of the starting rotation here.

Here’s where we think it stands for 2018:


Aaron Nola

Vince Velasquez


Jerad Eickhoff

Ben Lively

Zach Eflin

Nick Pivetta

Jake Thompson

Mark Leiter Jr.


Tom Eshelman

Mark Appel

What’s the fix?

Corey outlined the potential fixes in free agency, focusing on top-level arms. Of course, the Phils could also trade for a top-level arm. They could also trade for a middle-rotation arm. Either way, team President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail hinted as much, saying he wasn’t excited about dipping into free agency for big pitching contracts.

The possibility the Phils trade for an arm is strong. Let’s go through some possible options on the market (looking mainly at teams with a poor 2017 and a greater likelihood of selling major league pitching in the offseason), weighing cost, control, performance and fit.

The Ick and the Dreck

24. Homer Bailey (CIN)

(Looks up numbers. Looks up contract.) No thanks.

23. James Shields (CWS)

Nah. Nope. No thanks.

22. Jordan Zimmermann (DET)

Despite starting a full rebuild, Detroit probably won’t trade Zimmermann or any arms. One reason: full no-trade clause. And would you want him? He hasn’t been a good starter since 2015 and he’s making nearly $75 million through 2020. Hardest pass.

21. Christian Friedrich (SD)

Too many walks, not enough of a sample in the majors. Nah.

20. Ian Kennedy (KC)

Why did the Royals give Kennedy a contract paying him $49 million through 2020? Nah.

99.999999% Not Being Traded

19. Madison Bumgarner (SF)

The Giants’ ace is rumored to be untouchable. And if he wasn’t, it would take a massive haul to acquire him. Also, the Phillies aren’t there yet.

18. Jacob deGrom (NYM)

Yeah, no way the Mets trade him, or Syndegaard, or Wheeler, or Matz.

The Worries

17. Matt Harvey (NYM)

There is a way the Mets trade Harvey (there were rumors at the deadline, but the Mets weren’t budging). I have no idea what a Harvey trade looks like since his numbers were so crazy bad in 2017. I’d imagine the Mets just hold onto him and see if he returns to form. For any team other than them, he’s a major risk.

16. Clayton Richard (SD)

The Padres’ “ace” led the league in hits allowed (240) while touting decent strikeout stuff (6.9/9) that is much higher than career averages. While cheap ($6 million through 2019), he feels like a classic “stay away” arm for both top and middle rotation spots.

15. Wei-Yin Chen (MIA)

Chen has a bunch of pricey player options ahead of him, which is worrisome considering he hasn’t been able to pitch a full season since 2015. When he’s on he’s decent, but the price and risk feel too large to explore.

90% Not Being Traded, So Maybe?

14. Cole Hamels (TEX)

Could the Phils reunite with Hollywood? I mean, Hamels could slide right into the middle of the rotation and provide lefty balance!

So it’s likely the Rangers don’t move Hamels. Plus his strikeout numbers went way down last year, which is very weird. The contract isn’t bad now ($23.5 million for 2018, plus a 2019 team option), so maybe he wouldn’t cost a lot …

Eh. The Rangers aren’t gonna deal him.

13. Matt Moore (SF)

The Giants may exercise his 2018 option (he also has a 2019 option), hoping for a bounceback year after putting up a 5.52 ERA in 2017. I’d imagine the Giants will hold onto him.

12. Felix Hernandez (SEA)

I can’t see the Mariners trading King Felix. That said, he’s only under contract for two more years (there’s a 2020 option in there), even with an enormous AAV ($27 million approx. both years). After a bad 2017 his value is lower than it’s ever been. Maybe he wouldn’t cost a lot …

An entertaining thought, but the M’s haven’t traded him yet, and they probably won’t now.

11. Jeff Samardzija (SF)

While he’s getting about $60 million through 2020, his strikeout-to-walk numbers are astounding (205/32 in 2017). He’s durable and better than the 4.42 ERA he put up last year (his 3.61 FIP is much closer to true value).

What would the Shark cost? At least one top prospect, probably two (think Sixto Sanchez and Mickey Moniak), plus some prospect filler. Are the Phillies ready for that? Not sure, but this is an intriguing one.

I’d Think About It

10. JA Happ (TOR)

Awww yeah. The former Phillie is getting $13 million in this, his final contract year. It’s more likely the Jays go with him and a loaded team to start 2018, and if things fall apart, they’d look to deal him and others at the deadline. Still, the Jays would be foolish not to entertain something.

Happ put up a 3.53 ERA (3.76 FIP) with 142 strikeouts and 46 walks last year. He’s basically the No. 3 starter we thought he could be 10 years ago. (Oh God, it’s been 10 years.)

Happ would cost a decent prospect, at least, considering they hope to contend in 2018. Tough to buy this for just a one-year rental.

9. Nate Karns (KC)

The 30-year-old (in a few weeks) with a bad injury in 2017 is the kind of arm that gets dealt later. 4.17 ERA in limited action. I’d imagine the Royals hold onto him until at least the deadline.

8. Dan Straily (MIA)

Straily was a hot name before the trade deadline, but it was more speculation than anything tangible. His numbers aren’t amazing (4.26 ERA, 170 K, 60 BB, 4.58 FIP) but he’s inexpensive (just hitting arbitration) and is a potential No. 3/4.

What would he cost? The Marlins would probably want a good prospect (team top-10) considering there’s no contract to worry about. There’s some risk here, though. Not a top choice.

7. James Paxton (SEA)

He had a great 24-game season in 2017, putting up a 2.98 ERA with 156 strikeouts and 37 walks. He’s 28, arb-eligible and getting better. Injuries are a worry, though. He’d cost a pretty penny, and the Phils should call, but it’s tough to imagine the Mariners wanting to let him go, even with the injuries.

6. Julio Teheran (ATL)

Before the deadline, Braves fans were wondering if it was time to trade the righty, but nope, didn’t happen. Teheran had his worst full season last year, putting up a 4.49 ERA and 4.95 FIP with 151 strikeouts and 72 walks. (The walks are disconcerting.)

He also has two years left on his contract ($19 million through 2019) with a 2020 team option. If the Phils wanted him, they could try to eat the money and give Atlanta at least something south of a top prospect, but would the Braves really go for that? I’d imagine they wouldn’t, wanting to hold out for a really high bid since there’s still a lot to like about Teheran.

There are a lot of reasons to be questioning making a Teheran deal, but it’s not the worst option if you want a potential solid No. 3 behind Nola. You’d just have to be OK with giving a division rival a high-level prospect, to start.

5. Jake Odorizzi (TB)

Odorizzi walks too many (3.8/9 in 2017), though it may be an outlier. He’s a bit of a risk, but he’s just heading into arbitration and would be cost-effective. That said, the Rays would probably ask for a good prospect to start. Not a bad choice, in all honesty.

4. Ivan Nova (PIT)

Once considered a breakout stud, Nova has settled into a mid-to-back-end role in Pittsburgh, which wasn’t quite what those fans wanted. Putting up a 4.14 ERA last year (4.46 FIP), he carries a K rate in the 6-7 range and a walk rate around 1.4. That’s great. He also has a 55 percent quality start rate – for comparison, Nola’s was 63 percent.

He’s on the hook for $18.3 million over the next two years, which is pretty manageable for the Phils. As a mid-rotation candidate for two years, Nova is not a bad choice.

3. Jason Hammel (KC)

Making $9 million in 2018 with a 2019 option, Hammel is a good middle-of-the-road choice to be a No. 3/4. The 5.29 ERA in 2017 isn’t that bad (4.37 FIP). He’s what we hope for Jerad Eickhoff, more consistent with a much larger body of work.

I’d Definitely Call

2. Danny Duffy (KC)

Injured but good, Duffy put up a 3.81 ERA with 130 strikeouts and 41 walks in 2016. He also is making $60 million through 2021, so there’s a risk there. He feels like the kind of pitcher that gets dealt in a big offseason trade, even if nothing is saying the Royals are going to trade him. Still. I’d be OK with Duffy, but those injuries …

1. Chris Archer (TB)

Okay. Here’s the big name. If any young, controllable pitcher is dealt this offseason, Archer might be that pitcher. The high-strikeout near-ace (249, 233, 252 last three years) put up a deceptive 4.07 ERA in 2017 (3.40 FIP). Pair him with Nola and you’d feel really pretty about the top of your rotation.

Archer is making $14 million over the next two years, with team options in 2020 and ’21. It’s a good contract. It’s a good pitcher. It’s a good fit.

But the Rays would demand a bounty, and that’s even if they do entertain a trade. Imagine at least two big prospects have to go over there (Sixto Sanchez or Scott Kingery leading the charge), and you’re now mortgaging the future for the present. But the present includes four years of team control. Tough gamble, but this could be the gamble that they take.

Bottom line: Matt Klentak should be talking to Tampa Bay about Archer this offseason.

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