The Phillies could stand to fill out their big-league roster depth in front of the Aug. 2 deadline
The Philadelphia Phillies hit the All-Star break in playoff position (though they have fallen out of it after getting swept by the Cubs over the weekend). But after an up-and-down first half, it’s surely a welcome sign for Phillies fans to see their team in the playoff mix. Slugger Kyle Schwarber at the All-Star break talked about getting some players back from injury in the second half and how it would be like making a big trade. Obviously the return of Bryce Harper, whenever that happens (possibly mid-late August), would provide the biggest boost.
What about any additions from outside the organization, though? With so much high-priced talent in prime year — Schwarber, Harper, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, J.T. Realmuto, Nick Castellanos, etc. — the Phillies are in position to buy. At least they’ll try. The system isn’t as depleted as it was in the recent past, but it’s still not robust.
We should point out that Realmuto and, more extremely so, Castellanos can hit a lot better, too. That alone would provide a boost.
One mid-rotation starting pitcher sits toward the top, for me. It’s a common theme on the Phillies to need roster depth, because they have plenty of big names. At this position, they need something behind Wheeler and Nola. Zach Eflin has a knee injury and there remains concern about it. Ranger Suárez has been inconsistent and injured. Kyle Gibson is more like the fifth starter of a strong playoff team. If the Phillies can grab a quality, mid-rotation starter, it’s possible to have the situation looking really positive late in the season. Suárez still has so much talent that it’s reasonable to believe he’ll get it figured out late.
It’s the Phillies, so we have to say the bullpen needs shoring up. The thing is, the bullpen wasn’t bad in June and it’s been great in July, though, so adding depth pieces is really all they should shoot for here. And everyone does that.
And, of course, there’s center field. The Phillies have been one of the least productive teams in baseball at that position this season. Only a few non-contenders like the Cubs, Reds and A’s have been worse.
- First off, they don’t have enough to get Juan Soto. I know he doesn’t fit a “need” outlined, but he’s the type of player you make room for. I just don’t think they can.
- Bryan Reynolds would be a huge coup for the Phillies, as he’d check several boxes. He can play center field, he’s a great offensive player and has several years of control left. It seems like a pretty tall order for this farm system, though, if it becomes clear the Pirates will deal Reynolds.
- Ian Happ of the Cubs has settled in as an everyday left fielder, but he could handle center in a bind. He’s a switch-hitter and controlled for another year after this.
- How about Brandon Drury? He’s been a revelation for the Reds and has played all over the diamond. He might not work best in center field, but he could fill in at second until Jean Segura returns from injury and shift around the field as needed. As bad as their outfield defense has been, you never know, playing him in center might not compound the problem.
- Oakland’s Ramón Laureano doesn’t play center anymore, but he has experience in the past, so he could fit. Perhaps Kanas City’s Michael A. Taylor could as well.
- As for starting pitchers, they might end up grabbing a depth piece by José Quintana or Drew Smyly, but maybe they step up their game a bit and go after someone like Noah Syndergaard or Tyler Mahle? It’s hard to see them being able to keep up in the sweepstakes for Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas, but as I noted earlier, they already have two frontline starters.
- With the bullpen, it’s all about just adding depth pieces. Any veteran having a good season for a non-contender works, really. They shouldn’t spend much capital on the situation right now.
Potential trade chips
A fun one to consider would be former number one overall pick Mickey Moniak. He’s still only 24 years old and only has 105 plate appearances of major-league experience. Perhaps someone else would want accept a possible lottery ticket in return. Of course, he doesn’t have a ton of value on the trade market, so let’s be clear: I was only speaking about him being included in a deal for one of the lesser players listed above.
Surely the Phillies’ top two prospects — pitchers Andrew Painter and Mick Abel, who are both in High-A — aren’t really on the table here. Perhaps Double-A catcher Logan O’Hoppe would be? Realmuto is signed through 2025 and still productive. O’Hoppe would make sense as the big name involved in any needle-moving trade.
In dealing for many of the players above, however, we’re very likely looking at players in the lower levels of the minors. Given that it isn’t a deep system, it shouldn’t hurt much. It’ll be interesting to see what Dave Dombrowski and the front office can pull off, because they are close enough that they need to try and make the playoffs and see what happens with that mix of stars.