The long-awaited 2018-19 MLB free agent class is here, and while many Philadelphia Phillies fans are hopeful the organization will fill its many holes using their ample surplus of money, it may be the trade market that answers some of the Phillies problems. Here’s a look at 10 potential trades that it would make sense for general manager Matt Klentak’s front-office to consider this offseason.
- Acquire Raisel Iglesias From the Reds
The 2019 free-agent class has a few notable closers in it; Craig Kimbrel, Cody Allen and Kelvin Herrera. Kimbrel converted 42 of 47 save opportunities in 2018, with a 2.74 ERA, but he struggled in the playoffs with a 3.92 ERA. Allen had a rough year with a 4.70 ERA for the Cleveland Indians and Herrera had a 4.34 ERA after being traded to the Washington Nationals. Iglesias had a great season for the struggling Cincinnati Reds, converting 30 of 34 save opportunities with a 2.38 ERA. He throws hard, reaching 100 MPH with his fastball. Iglesias, 28, is under team control for two more years and is going to make $5.7 million each year, far more cheaper than what the other three would cost. The Reds are trying to be competitive within the next couple of years, but considering they play in a division where the other four teams were at least three games over .500 in 2018, that seems unlikely to happen before Iglesias reaches free-agency.
The Deal: Phillies get: RHP Raisel Iglesias Reds get: RHP Adonis Medina, LHP JoJo Romero and LHP Kyle Young
- Trade Justin Bour to the Royals
The Phillies wanted a lefty power bat off the bench when they acquired Bour from the Miami Marlins in August. But with two years left of team control, and Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana probably both best-geared to first base, there just isn’t room for Bour on the 2019 roster. The Royals aren’t a Justin Bour trade away from making the playoffs, but they need to field a team in 2019. Don’t expect much of anything back, the Phillies barely gave up anything in the first place and the alternative may be non-tendering Bour.
The deal: Phillies get: RHP Scott Blewett Royals get: 1B/DH Justin Bour
- Trade Maikel Franco to the Padres
The Padres were reportedly interested in Franco around the non-waiver trade deadline, though the Phillies ultimately elected to hold onto Franco, who put together one of the finest months of his career in July. Still, with it seeming increasingly likely that Carlos Santana will shift across the diamond on at least a part time basis in 2019, Franco seems to be the odd-man-out. Still just 26, Franco could help the Phillies to add two relievers to bolster their bullpen. Erlin, who posted a 2.05 ERA in 27 relief appearances, is a lefty that could allow the Phillies to move on from Adam Morgan. Yates, 31, had a career-year for the Padres in 2018, posting a 2.14 ERA and 2.54 FIP in 65 games.
The deal: Phillies get: Kirby Yates and Robbie Erlin Padres get: Maikel Franco, JoJo Romero, and Kyle Young
- Acquire Mike Minor from the Rangers
The Phillies are in need of a left-handed starting pitcher and Minor fits the bill. He had a 4.18 ERA in 28 starts with the Rangers in 2018. Minor, 30, is owed $9.8 million over each of the next two years. He’s by no means an ace, but being a lefty and a middle-of-the-rotation starter, he would be valuable to the Phillies if they are unable to sign a left-handed starter. The Rangers are in rebuild mode and would probably like to move Minor’s contract. Another consolation prize: Minor was excellent for the Royals in 2017 as a left-handed reliever, so if things didn’t work out as a starter or the Phillies acquired another starter in-season, Minor could become a valuable piece out of the bullpen.
The deal: Phillies get: Mike Minor Rangers get: Spencer Howard
- Trade Cesar Hernandez to the Angels
The Phillies have a log-jam in the middle infield, with Hernandez, Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford and the possibility of adding a free-agent such as Manny Machado. The Phillies committed to Kingery long-term when they gave him a six-year deal with multiple club options after last Spring Training. Crawford was injured for most of 2018 and it’s far too early to give up on him. Hernandez, not a free-agent until after the 2020 season, did walk a career-high 95 times in 2018, but he also saw his batting average dip to .253 and struck out 155 times, easily a career-high. The Angels have been interested for Hernandez for the better part of two years, and with Ian Kinsler shipped off to Boston in July, they have a hole at the position. Expect a return similar to that of the Freddy Galvis trade.
The deal: Phillies get: Jose Suarez and John Swanda Angels get: Cesar Hernandez
- Acquire J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins
This feels like a pretty unlikely scenario, but could the Phillies make the move for one of the best catchers in the game? Realmuto hit .277 with 21 homers in 125 games with the Marlins in 2018. The Phillies may like Jorge Alfaro, but not so much that they didn’t acquire Wilson Ramos prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. With Ramos an aging free-agent, the Phillies are set to start next season with Alfaro and Andrew Knapp as the catchers. If the Phillies fail to upgrade offensively at other positions, they could consider an upgrade at catcher. Realmuto, 28, has two years of arbitration left. Realmuto’s agent recently predicted that he won’t be back with the Marlins in 2019, with MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki saying the Phillies at least plan to check in on the National League All-Star. The Phillies would have to give up a lot, and to a division rival, but if they don’t make this move, someone else in the National League (and even the National League East) could.
The deal: Phillies get: J.T. Realmuto Marlins get: Jorge Alfaro, Adonis Medina, Daniel Brito, Adam Haseley, and Connor Seabold
- Trade Vince Velasquez to the Orioles
The Phillies traded for Velasquez three winters ago, and he hasn’t panned out how they hoped. The 26-year-old did stay healthy in 2018, while posting a career-low 3.75 FIP and career-high 2.6 fWAR. But Velasquez also had a 4.85 ERA in 2018, and in September his ERA ballooned to 10.70. He’s still young, but three years without significant progress is concerning. The Phillies could consider moving Velasquez to the bullpen, but he’s not a lock to be back with the team in 2019. The Orioles would take a chance on Velasquez, considering they were the worst team in the majors in 2018, most of that thanks to pitching. The Phillies would get back two pitching options; Givens, already a major league reliever and Wells, a 21-year-old Australian lefty that started 24 games in High-A in 2018.
The deal: Phillies get: Mychal Givens and Alex Wells Orioles get: Vince Velasquez
- Acquire Danny Duffy from the Royals
Duffy had his worst year since his rookie season in 2018. With a 4.88 ERA and a WHIP of 1.49, Duffy had a season no one saw coming. Duffy, 29, is a lefty with three years left on his contract. The Phillies could hope that Duffy returns to his 2017 form, when he had a 3.81 ERA. Getting away from a 104-loss team could help Duffy’s confidence and motivation. If Duffy returns to his 2017 form, the Phillies will have a solid No. 3 pitcher they can rely on. The Royals could take a flier on Velasquez in the deal.
The deal: Phillies get: Danny Duffy Royals get: Vince Velasquez, Cole Irvin and JoJo Romero
- Acquire Carlos Carrasco from the Indians
The Indians are reportedly going to listen to offers for many of their veterans, and in my opinion, Carrasco is the likeliest to get moved. The 31-year-old had a great year in 2018, going 17-10 with a 3.38 ERA. With just one year left on his contract, and the Indians needing to save money so they can eventually extend shortstop Francisco Lindor, third baseman Jose Ramirez and ace Trevor Bauer, who will all demand $100 million plus contracts, there’s not enough money to go around. With Kluber, Bauer and two good youngsters in Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger, the Indians can afford to part ways with Carrasco. You may recall that Carrasco was once a member of the Phillies organization and was shipped out in the Cliff Lee trade in 2009. Adding Carrasco along with an impact bat and a closer would make the Phillies a serious threat to the Braves in the National League East. The Phillies probably wouldn’t hesitate to extend Carrasco if he produces in 2019.
The deal: Phillies get: Carlos Carrasco Indians get: Adonis Medina and Kyle Young.
- Acquire James Paxton from the Mariners
The Mariners are reportedly ready to sell and reload a rather weak farm system. Their best pitcher and arguably best trade-chip is left-hander James Paxton. Paxton, 30, went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA in 2018, averaging 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Paxton has two years of arbitration left before becoming a free agent. Carrasco might be somewhat better than Paxton, but with Paxton being a lefty, he would be more valuable to the Phillies. The Phillies may need to get into a bidding war with the New York Yankees and other suitors, which could force Sixto Sanchez’s name into the discussion. I feel the Phillies would rather hang onto Sanchez and therefore move on or offer a mega package that includes three top 10 prospects.
The deal: Phillies get: James Paxton Mariners get: Adonis Medina, JoJo Romero, Cole Irvin and Connor Seabold.
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