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The Padres have a scout at Tuesday’s Phillies-Orioles game

Could the Padres be scouting Maikel Franco? (Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons)

The Philadelphia Phillies-Baltimore Orioles Tuesday evening showdown has started in a rain delay. When the game eventually starts, there are some rather important eyes in the crowd.

On SportsRadio 94 WIP’s pregame show, Jim Jackson noted that the San Diego Padres have a scout in attendance for the Phillies matchup with the Orioles.

Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported last week that the Phillies are among the teams that the Padres have had trade discussions with, mostly revolving around their pitching. Heyman also confirmed a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Padres are interested in Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco. Coincidentally – or perhaps not coincidentally – Franco is batting eighth in Gabe Kapler’s lineup Tuesday after sitting for the final two games of the Phillies-Washington Nationals series this past weekend.

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The Padres have at least three pitchers that the relief-needy Phillies could be interested in. The most obvious is closer Brad Hand, a 2017 All-Star. The 28-year-old currently has a 3.12 ERA and has converted 23 of his 27 save opportunities in 2018. Heyman noted last week that the Padres continue to have a very high asking price on Hand, who is under contract through 2020 and has a very affordable $10 million option for 2021. The Padres interest in Franco is likely independent of this trade, as it would take a fairly significant package to convince the Padres to part with Hand. If Franco was involved in a trade, it would be as an afterthought.

Two other Padres relievers that are in the midst of career years could make more sense for trades involving the 25-year-old Franco.

The first is 34-year-old Craig Stammen, currently in the midst of a career-year. Very familiar with the National League East because of his seven years with the Nationals, Stammen currently has a 2.52 ERA, 1.74 FIP and 1.4 fWAR in 36 games. He’s also under contract at a very affordable $2.25 million rate in 2019.

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Kirby Yates could also be a fit in a Franco-the-Padres deal. Yates, 31, has been one of the National League’s most effective relievers in 2018 – he has a 0.79 ERA, 2.14 FIP and 1.0 fWAR in 34 appearances in 2018. Yates can’t be a free-agent until after 2020.

Even if Franco was involved for a deal for Stammen or Yates, the guess here is that it wouldn’t be a one-for-one deal; more prospects would be involved. But the Phillies and Padres probably match up better on a trade for either of those two than for Hand.

Though the Phillies bullpen has been much-maligned in 2018, Pat Neshek made his season debut Sunday. Luis Garcia and Edubray Ramos will return from the disabled list at some point this month. Seranthony Dominguez has a 1.98 ERA and 1.61 FIP in 23 games in 2018. If the Phillies were able to acquire another stable reliever, it would give them the chance to have a pretty strong bullpen as they compete to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

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