During this much anticipated 2018-19 Major League Baseball off-season the Philadelphia Phillies have made noise by being connected to just about everyone available free agent and trade candidate.
The pitching market is now narrowing on the free agent front, and the Phillies may be forced to look to a trade to bolster their rotation. They have been connected in free agency to Dallas Keuchel and on that trade front to Corey Kluber in recent days.
The Phillies control a fair amount of trade chips in their farm system. Four minor league pitchers seem to be their top options to deal: Sixto Sanchez, Adonis Medina, JoJo Romero, and Enyel De Los Santos.
Sanchez is the biggest name in that group. He is the organization’s top prospect at age 20 and has some of the highest upside in all of the minors.
The Phillies previously took some heat for their unwillingness to add Sanchez in proposed deals for Manny Machado both prior to the 2018 season and at the July trade deadline.
In hindsight, the Phillies probably made the right move. They failed to make the playoffs in 2018, most of that thanks to the rotation falling apart late in the season. There was no guarantee that Machado would re-sign.
Sanchez suffered an elbow injury in June and hasn’t pitched competitively since. He managed to avoid surgery, but there is now some concern regarding his future potential, considering his age and how hard he throws.
The Phillies love Sanchez, and so do other teams. A couple of weeks ago, Tim Kelly here at Phillies Nation asked the big question: what would the deal have to be for the Phillies to part ways with their promising pitching prospect?
The answer from my perspective would be a perennial all-star with multiple years of control. The Phillies refused to give up Sanchez for one year of Machado. So you would have to believe that the list of players for whom the Phillies would surrender Sanchez for just one year is quite small: Mike Trout, possibly someone like Jose Altuve or Nolan Arenado.
In other words, Sanchez would only likely be dealt for your annual MVP candidate types. I do believe the Phillies would part ways with Sanchez for multiple years of a pitcher such as Kluber or Trevor Bauer. I don’t believe that there is a position player who has been publicly named as available via trade who is intriguing enough for the Phillies to part ways with Sanchez, regardless of his health.
Adonis Medina is the Phillies second-most highly considered pitching prospect. Medina is the likeliest Phillies prospect to be moved this off season. Teams want him, he was the centerpiece during their in-season run at Machado, and the Phillies would be willing to include him as a key piece in almost any big deal.
Medina turned 22-years-old earlier this month. The Dominican right-hander went 10-4 with a 4.12 ERA over 22 games with High-A Clearwater this past season.
His earned run average may seem high for a top trade chip, but those numbers are a bit skewed thanks to four starts where Medina was hit around for five or more runs. Medina gave up three runs or fewer during 14 of his outings for Reading this season.
He is not on Sanchez’s level when it comes to being an elite prospect and is more likely to max out as a number three-starter in a big-league rotation. Still, Medina has the stuff to attract other teams, with a fastball in the mid-90s and two above-average secondary pitches.
The Phillies like Medina and there is some hope he could become a member of their rotation one day, perhaps within the next year or two. But he may prove most valuable to the Phillies on the trade market before he ever sets foot on the Citizens Bank Park mound in red pinstripes.
JoJo Romero is the top left-hander in the Phillies system. He was featured in the Double-A Reading rotation and pitched well, recording a 3.80 ERA over his 18 starts.
His WHIP was a little high at the 1.29 mark, but that isn’t unreasonable for a developing southpaw. Also, Reading is a notorious hitter’s park. Being a lefty helps his value and MLB Pipeline is high on him as a future mid-rotation option, stating the following in their scouting report:
“While he’s not the biggest guy in the world, Romero is very athletic and strong and has already shown to be very durable. At first thought to be a back-end starter, the southpaw looks like he could be more of a No.3 type starter when all is said and done.”
Romero will pitch at age 22 for most of the 2019 season. He would not be a centerpiece in any major deal such as for Kluber or Bauer. As a “pot-sweetener”, however, a lot of teams would certainly consider a package that included he and Medina.
I do think that such a Medina-Romero package would be a lot to give up for just one year of the declining Madison Bumgarner, who was rumored on the blocks by the San Francisco Giants.
Such a deal might depend on how the market plays out, how desperate the Phillies actually become to add a veteran left-hander for 2019, and whether the Giants opt instead to hold their ace and deal him at the 2019 trade deadline.
Enyel De Los Santos, 23, was sent to the Phillies from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Freddy Galvis last off-season. He had a productive 2018 with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, going 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA.
After a solid debut as an emergency starter, De Los Santos mostly struggled when he saw action in the big-leagues. He pitched in seven games for the Phillies this past season, two of those as a starter, producing a 4.74 ERA and a WHIP of 1.42 in those outings.
De Los Santos projects as a back-end starter and may get that opportunity if he is dealt to the right club. But the hard-throwing righty may be best served coming out of the bullpen over the long haul.
His name hasn’t come up much in trade rumors and I think the Phillies actually like him as an emergency starter and bullpen option in 2019. Much as with Romero, De Los Santos would likely be part of a package with Medina.
The Phillies would also probably deal anyone not named Aaron Nola or Jake Arrieta from their current big-league rotation. Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, and Jerad Eickhoff would be of varying degrees of value to other clubs.
Thanks to this large number of available arms, general manager Matt Klentak should be able to pull off some deal to bring in a more proven veteran option for the rotation. Phillies fans have begun to get impatient, waiting on a major trade or signing. January should prove to be the pivotal month for those moves, and the Phillies have assets to deal.
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION:
- Dallas Keuchel may be worth a five-year gamble for Phillies
- Corey Kluber reportedly still in play for the Phillies
- Reports say that Manny Machado joins Bryce Harper in not being enamored with Philadelphia
- Phillies first base coach Jose David Flores joins newly formed Baltimore Orioles staff
- Los Angeles Angels have no interest in trading Mike Trout at this time