Posted on July 8, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Even with rather modest expectations coming into the 2017 season, the Philadelphia Phillies have been a huge disappointment this season. The Phillies have the worst record in baseball and still appear to be moving backward in the rebuilding process. The poor season leaves no doubt that the Phillies will be sellers at the trade deadline. Recent reports suggest the club will be eager to trade away quite a few players in what could be a rather extravagant summer fire sale.
Pitchers Jeremy Hellickson, Pat Neshek, and Joaquin Benoit are likely to be the first to be traded. All three will be free agents at season’s end and will be of little help to Philadelphia the second half of the season.
Neshek, the team’s lone all-star, may end up being one of the most coveted relievers on the trade market this summer. He should bring the Phillies a decent return, and Hellickson could as well. Hellickson has taken a step back from what he did a year ago, but he’ll be far more affordable than some of the frontline starters on the trade market this summer.
On the position player front, veterans Howie Kendrick and Daniel Nava could also prove to be viable trade chips. Kendrick is currently on the DL nursing a hamstring injury. But when healthy, he’s had a resurgent season, hitting .349 with an OPS of .879. Nava, meanwhile, is having the best season of his career. He’s hitting .303 with an OPS of .808. Both players could be good additions to the bench of a contending team.
One surprising name the Phillies could look to trade away is first baseman Tommy Joseph. Philadelphia wouldn’t have expected to trade Joseph at the start of the season. But the Phillies would like to make room for prospect Rhys Hoskins, who’s had a breakout year in the minors. Hoskins is hitting .289 with 20 home runs and 19 doubles at triple-A this season.
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin acknowledges that there’s no room for both Joseph and Hoskins. With Joseph proving that last year’s power was no fluke. The fact that he’s under team control through the 2022 season could make him a valuable trade chip, helping Philadelphia acquire more young talent and open up room for Hoskins.
The Phillies are also open to offers for third baseman Maikel Franco. It’s unlikely that Franco will be traded, as he’s taken a huge step backward from his production the past two years. The Phillies have also put a rather high price on him. Nevertheless, he’s a possible trade candidate for teams looking for a young and promising third baseman.
Of course, there’s a method to Philadelphia’s madness and a summer fire sale is not all that surprising. The Phillies have a slew of young prospects who are all but ready to make their big league debut, including some who already have. Outfielder Nick Williams and starting pitcher Ben Lively have already made their debut and impressed the Phillies brass.
Prospects who could still find their way to the majors before season’s end include shortstop J.P. Crawford, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and outfielder Dylan Cozens. With so many trade candidates and several talented youngsters in the minors, Philadelphia’s roster could look radically different by the time the trade deadline rolls around. In fact, Mackanin appears excited about the possibility of getting to see some of the team’s top prospects.
“I’m hoping we are going to see them in the second half, sooner than later,” Mackanin said. “We’ll see what happens, especially at the trading deadline. If we make a couple, three trades, it might change the whole complexion of the team.”
To this point in the season, the Phillies have been one of the least interesting teams in baseball to watch. But considering the number of trade candidates on their roster and the talent in their farm system, that may be about to change. A fire sale is quite possible in Philadelphia this summer, and it would quickly make the Phillies one of the most interesting teams in baseball.