The Philadelphia Phillies still highly value No. 1 overall prospect Sixto Sanchez. But in an offseason where just about anything seems on-the-table, Sanchez may no longer be off-the-table.
Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the 20-year-old right-hander has been “involved in numerous trade discussions.”
Rosenthal had previously reported that the Phillies had been willing to at least discuss Sanchez with the Seattle Mariners in a trade that would allow them to acquire closer Edwin Diaz and shortstop Jean Segura. The Phillies, according to Rosenthal, ultimately decided that Sanchez was too valuable of a prospect to move in a trade for a reliever. Diaz ended up instead with the division rival New York Mets, along with Robinson Cano. The Phillies acquired Segura in a separate trade.
Diaz, 24, was a unique opportunity. The Phillies want to be able to use Seranthony Dominguez in whatever the highest-leverage situation is between the starting pitcher exiting the game and the closer trotting onto the field. Sometimes that will be for multiple innings. Acquiring Diaz would have allowed the Phillies to do that, while also acquiring a closer who saved a league-high 57 games in 2018 and can’t become a free-agent until after the 2022 season.
Even in an opportunity as unique as Diaz, the Phillies ultimately were hesitant to part with Sanchez, who has drawn comparisons to Pedro Martinez. It makes you wonder who they would actually seriously considering parting with the Dominican righty for.
The Cleveland Indians are reportedly shopping both Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer.
Kluber is a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, coming off of his first 20-win season, who is due $17 million in 2018. His contract also includes very affordable club options for 2019 ($17.5 million) and 2020 ($18 million). It is fair to wonder if the Phillies are close enough to contention to make it worth trading a prospect that’s been compared to a Hall of Famer for a 32-year-old, even if that 32-year-old is a superstar.
Bauer, meanwhile, finished sixth in American League Cy Young Award voting in 2018, though he may have been even better than Kluber. In 175.1 innings, Kluber went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA, 2.44 FIP and a 6.1 fWAR. At 27, Bauer, who can’t be a free-agent until after 2020, may make more sense for the Phillies.
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is the type of player that you would “back the truck up for,” but he’s just entering his first year of arbitration, so that’s likely a moot point. The same is true for third baseman Jose Ramirez, who is signed to a laughably team-friendly contract through 2021, with club options for the following two seasons.
There’s been some crazy trade scenarios floating around for Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, and while it would likely take a hefty trade package to acquire the All-Star, it’s difficult to imagine with the Phillies parting with a potential ace for his services. They’re high enough on Jorge Alfaro that they’ll just move on if that’s the asking price.
Of course, every discussion with the Phillies somehow ends up at Mike Trout. The noted Philadelphia sports fan has two years left on his current contract. The Los Angeles Angels are likely in an offseason where they need to get a gauge on whether they’ll be able retain the generational talent beyond 2020. But there’s no indication they are actively considering trading the seven-time All-Star. If they did, two-thirds of Sanchez, Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins would likely have to headline a trade that would feature a return that’s hard to quantify, because we’ve never seen a player as accomplished as Trout be traded at age 27.
Former National League MVP Kris Bryant is perceived by some to no longer be untouchable, because ESPN‘s Buster Olney reported that the Cubs were willing to consider offers on any of their players. However, it’s been exactly a month since that report, and there’s been no indication that the Cubs are shopping the 26-year-old. It’s hard then to go too deep into hypothetical situations involving Sanchez, because it doesn’t seem like a trade is actually a realistic possibility.
In all likelihood, Sanchez will remain in the Phillies organization past this offseason. In a perfect world, he’ll join Nola, Hoskins and perhaps Manny Machado or Bryce Harper on the Phillies in the next few seasons.
But elbow inflammation limited Sanchez to just 45.1 innings in 2018. He’s never pitched an inning above Single-A. The Phillies front-office may view him as mortal again. But it would likely take the chance of acquiring a player who they view as immortal to part with him.
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