The Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres figure to be in contact rather frequently over the next few weeks, that we know. Whether Matt Klentak and A.J. Preller can agree on a trade – and who would be involved in said trade – is less clear.
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, the Phillies and Padres have had some preliminary trade talks, ones that presumably would involve the Phillies landing a relief pitcher:
The Padres have talked to many teams, mostly about their pitching, and are expected to be extremely active as we near the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The Phillies are said to be among the teams they’ve talked to.
The most obvious potential target for the Phillies would be Padres closer Brad Hand. Hand, a 2017 All-Star, currently has a 2.75 ERA and 3.45 FIP in 37 games. The 28-year-old has converted 22 of 26 save attempts. Klentak said last week that if the Phillies had any of Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge or Jonathan Papelbon, they would have someone assigned to the traditional closer’s role. Hand might not be any of those three – not many closer’s in baseball history have been as good as that trio – but if acquired, he presumably would slide into that role. This would allow the Phillies to use Seranthony Dominguez in whatever the highest-leverage situation was prior to the ninth inning.
Of course, things aren’t that simple. Hand is one of baseball’s best relievers and is under contract through 2020, with a very affordable $10 million club option for 2021. Given this, Heyman says the Padres have a “very high” pricetag on their star reliever, perhaps even higher than when they couldn’t find someone to meet their price last July.
A high asking-price certainly shouldn’t stop the Phillies from inquiring on Hand, but the Phillies would have to feel as though they had a chance to win the National League East and make a playoff run with Hand. The Athletic‘s Jayson Stark said earlier this week that teams around the league think the 43-36 Phillies are still feeling out just how good they are. The good news for the Phillies is that after this weekend’s crucial four-game series with the Washington Nationals, they’ll see their schedule soften, as they’ll play the Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets and Miami Marlins before the All-Star Break.
If the Phillies deem the asking-price on Hand to be too high, the Padres bullpen does have some other potential options that could pique the Phillies interest.
Craig Stammen, 34, is in the midst of a career-year. Stammen currently has a 2.65 ERA, 1.81 FIP and 1.3 fWAR in 34 games for the Padres. He’s also under contract at a very affordable $2.25 million rate in 2019.
Kirby Yates – who, like Stammen, is right-handed – is also putting together the best season of his career. The 31-year-old has an 0.82 ERA, 2.16 FIP and 1.0 fWAR in 33 games. Yates can’t be a free-agent until after 2020.
In a potentially unrelated note, Heyman did confirm a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Padres are interested in Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco. Though there are things to like about Franco – his untapped offensive potential, the fact that he’s still only 25, him being under team control through 2021 – it’s hard to imagine Franco’s value being especially high right now. Though he’s bounced back from a disastrous 2017 season, Franco still has a -1.9 offensive WAR and is putting the ball on the ground at a career-high 52.3 percent rate. Teams would be buying low on Franco. So while he could conceivably be part of a trade for Stammen or Yates, it would be hard to imagine him being any more than a throw-in if he was involved in a deal for Hand.