Posted on July 29, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The much-anticipated Philadelphia Phillies fire sale is officially underway. With the trade deadline just a few days away, the Phillies completed two trades late Friday night. In the first trade, the Phillies sent utility man Howie Kendrick to the Nationals for pitching prospect McKenzie Mills. In the second trade, Philadelphia traded starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson to the Orioles for outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, pitching prospect Garrett Cleavinger, and international bonus pool money.
The 34-year old Kendrick has had a resurgent season in Philadelphia, making him an ideal trade chip for the Phillies. A pair of DL stints has hindered him somewhat. But in 141 at-bats this year, Kendrick is hitting .340 with an OPS of .851.
Kendrick will provide a boost to Washington’s bench while also adding depth to both the outfield and infield. In the immediate future, Kendrick may have a chance to earn regular playing time in left field. With Adam Eaton out for the season and Michael Taylor and Jayson Werth still on the DL, left field has become a revolving door for the Nationals. Kendrick may end up splitting time with Adam Lind until either Taylor or Werth is ready to return.
“It’s great because they’re in first place and have a good chance to make the postseason,” Kendrick said of his move to the Nationals. “That’s what we live for. Our ultimate goal as players is to win a World Series. I couldn’t think of a better place to be going to.”
Meanwhile, Baltimore’s acquisition of Hellickson is a bit more puzzling. There’s no denying that the Orioles need rotation help. However, the club is on the fringe of the playoff picture. The Orioles have lost three straight, falling 7.5 games out of first place in the AL East and 6.5 games out of a wild-card spot.
On paper, the Orioles look closer to being sellers than buyers, making a trade for a rental player like Hellickson surprising. In 20 starts this season, Hellickson is 5-5 with a 4.73 ERA. Those numbers aren’t all that impressive, but they are a huge step up from most of the other pitcher’s in Baltimore’s rotation. Nevertheless, it’s hard to envision the addition of Hellickson turning the tide for the Orioles this season.
“Hellickson is a solid, dependable veteran Major League starter who knows how to win in the American League,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said of the trade. “(He) should provide some quality innings for the O’s.”
As for the Phillies, they appear to be rather pleased with the two trades. The rebuilding team adds a pair of left-handed pitching prospects and some international draft pool money. Kim, meanwhile, will help the Phillies fill out their outfield for the rest of the season. However, the trio of Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, and Nick Williams should continue to get most of the playing time.
Mills was Washington’s no. 18 ranked prospect, according to MLB.com. He’s 12-2 with a 3.01 ERA in A-ball this season, showing flashes of major league potential. Cleavinger, meanwhile, has struggled in double-A this season. But Baltimore’s 3rd round pick from 2015 is a power arm with swing-and-miss stuff. The Phillies are also happy to receive international bonus pool money.
“The international slot money was a big part of the value in both these trades for us,” Phillies GM Matt Klentak said early Saturday. “The name of the game is talent. There are limited ways that we can acquire talent. This was an opportunity for us to add to our pool and allow our international group to go identify more talent. In a sense we added the named players in these two trades today and are also adding some yet to be named players we haven’t signed yet.”
On the heels of trading Pat Neshek earlier this week, the Phillies appear quite satisfied with what they’ve done during their fire sale. They have added several prospects to an already strong farm system and added international spending money. Moreover, with three days left until the deadline, the Phillies may not yet be done making moves this summer.