Philadelphia Phillies Trade Scenarios: 5 Power Hitters They Should Pursue
As spring training enters its eleventh day of games for the Philadelphia Phillies, one thing has become very clear: the Phils have nothing to worry about when it comes to starting pitching depth and speed options off the bench. While Phillies hitters have been hitting for average (Freddy Galvis, Hector Luna, and Scott Podsednik are all looking pretty good) and the bullpen is shaping up behind Jonathan Papelbon (who has been a stud), there is one thing that the team still desperately needs: power.
Granted, the team signed Jim Thome and brought in Laynce Nix and Ty Wigginton over the course of the offseason, and all three are known primarily for their power bats. However, it's just not cutting it right now. The team's current leader in home runs is the aforementioned Luna, who likely won't even make the 25-man roster unless the front office pulls out a trump card. And while Hunter Pence is tied with Luna in that department—both have hit two dingers over the last ten or so games—Pence hasn't hit one out since the second game of the spring. Without Ryan Howard in the fold, the Phillies don't have that true slugger on their team, and until Howard returns, they need someone to fill the void.
Yes, six other players are tied for second place with a home run each, including Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz, but the team currently lacks a true power hitter, a guy who can just step up to the plate and smack a home run. Thome is that in essence, but he has yet to hit a homer this spring and his health is always a question. The team needs someone who can both fill a positional hole and come as a threat to hit one out of the park in every at bat. Right now, the team doesn't have anyone. But there's always the trade market...
In this piece, we'll go in depth on a few potential power bats the team could pursue via trade. Whether someone as simple as a pinch hitter-type or an everyday player in the last year of his deal, we'll explore all possible avenues, whether or not they're necessarily 100 percent realistic.
If you don't agree with some of the decisions (which you likely won't), share your thoughts on who the Phillies should go after. And off we go...
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Now here's an interesting thought.
Mark Trumbo emerged on the scene last year as not only one of the best power-hitting rookies, but one of the best power hitters in all of baseball. Slugging 29 home runs last season, Trumbo ended up placing second in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting, finishing only behind Tampa Bay Rays rookie starter Jeremy Hellickson.
While Trumbo is still just 26 years old and would likely seek a starting job, that wouldn't be a huge problem for the Phillies in the near future. Yes, he's a first baseman by trade, but he's been playing at third base (and some outfield as well) in spring training, not to mention that it's likely his new position this year with the Angels signing some nobody named Albert Pujols to be their new first baseman. With Placido Polanco in the final guaranteed year of his current contract, Trumbo could platoon with him and take the reigns from the Gold Glover next year once his mutual option is likely declined by the Phillies after this season.
But wait! There's more! Trumbo, entering just his sophomore season, is incredibly cheap as a result of his little service time. Allowing Polanco to walk and take his $1 million buyout is still much cheaper than paying him $5.5 million for what would inevitably be an injury-plagued season. With Trumbo costing not even $500,000 this season, he'd be affordable, and being young, his potential has yet to be fully realized.
Trumbo has already been in the center of a flurry of trade rumors this offseason. With Trumbo, Kendrys Morales, and Pujols all able to play first base, there's a bit of a logjam in Anaheim at both first and DH. While Trumbo playing third would alleviate the issue to a degree, Alberto Callaspo is still penciled in as the start according to the team's depth chart, and Morales and Pujols have the upper hand as well. With a trade to the Phillies, Trumbo would be able to work his way up to becoming the everyday starting third baseman, and with the Phils' farm system virtually depleted in major league-ready talent at the hot corner, Trumbo could become a cornerstone of the Phillies franchise for years to come.
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Puzzling? Potentially. Possible? Yes.
Back in early November, 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes burst onto the MLB scene. Wishing to defect from Cuba and sign with a major league team, Cespedes sent teams a video he entitled "The Showcase" that...well, showcased his abilities, which included an insane high jump, leg press, 40-yard dash time, and of course his ability to hit monster home runs. After all, he lead the Cuban league in home runs last year with 33, a new record for the league that plays just 90 games a season.
As time went on, it became clear that the Phillies, who were once thought to be in on Cespedes, weren't willing to shell out the amount of money he was looking for, which was originally estimated to be over $50-60 million. However, despite bigger-market clubs such as the Marlins, Tigers, Cubs, and White Sox initially being declared the favorites to land Cespedes, he somehow ended up in Oakland, signing a four-year, $36 million deal with the A's.
Fortunately for the Phillies, Cespedes doesn't cost too much this season—he comes at the relatively low price of $6.5 million, and while the luxury tax bases itself upon average annual value rather than individual season salaries, $9 million a year isn't a terribly expensive amount of money in the world of baseball, and if Cespedes pans out like the hype projects him to, he'd be a gamble well worth the risk.
With current center fielder Shane Victorino's contract expiring after the season, there's no guarantee that the Phillies will bring him back on a new deal. Even though Victorino has expressed that he'll take a hometown discount, with outfielders like Tyson Gillies looming in the minor leagues, the necessity of Victorino may not exist, especially for possibly $15 million or more a season. Being the number one center fielder on the market next year means that Victorino will command top dollar, and if the Phillies want to go the cheaper (and while we're at it, younger) route and on the trade market, Cespedes would be the ideal fit.
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Well, at least he's a power hitting third baseman...
Kevin Youkilis has been the model of consistency. He's played in over 100 games every season and has always put up a relatively good batting average. However, something that the Greek God of Walks (who's actually Jewish) is able to do with that same consistency is hit home runs—and for a now-third baseman, he's pretty darn good at it, too, hitting 17 into the stands last year.
Youkilis is probably more known for his awkward batting stance than anything else, but what might surprise you is that 2012 is the last guaranteed year of his current contract. After 2012, there is a club option worth $13 million on Youkilis next year, but should the Red Sox decline it, he'd take a buyout of $1 million and hit the market as a free agent.
But why would he be good fit for the Phillies? Well, for starters, he's great defensively. Whether at first or now at third, Youkilis fields the ball with ease. Then there's also the fact that he can hit for average (although last year it did dip down a bit thanks to injury). And keep in mind that the guy hit 17 home runs last year in a season in which he played just 102 games...and also keep in mind that, being a right-handed hitter, he had to hit some over the Green Monster at Fenway Park. Considering the circumstances, that's pretty awesome. Imagine what he could do at Citizens Bank Park.
The differences here between Youkilis and Mark Trumbo are cost and age. Youkilis makes $12 million this year; Trumbo makes under, if not around $500,000. In addition, Youkilis is 32 years old (will be 33 on Thursday in fact), and as I covered two slides ago, Trumbo is seven years his junior. But the thing about both of them is that they are both able to play first and third base and with good defense (Youkilis obviously is the better of the two due to experience and he has a Gold Glove from 2008). If the Phillies want to give up less and save more, Trumbo is their man. But if the Phillies wanted to go for veteran leadership and for a guy who would have to start every day upon coming to town, Youkilis is their man.
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Is David Wright the third baseman of the future for the Phillies? It could happen.
Wright has been known throughout his career by Phillies fans for two things: his ability to make contact, and the fact that, when healthy, he always kills the Phillies. I mean really, when's the last time the Mets came to town and Wright didn't hit a home run (and yes, he did hit one against the Phillies here at home last season)?
Once a model of consistency both at the plate and for showing up on the field, Wright's recently been marked by injury. Last year he missed 60 games for a stress fracture in his back that was thought to only initially need just 10 days to heal. That was likely a misdiagnosis to begin with in terms of recovery time, but hey, I'm no doctor.
In all seriousness, Wright's usually able to hit the cover off the ball. He's got a .300 average for his career (which is higher than Youkilis' mark of .289 for his career by the way), and while he hit just .254 last season, it was the first in which he hit under .280. Last season was also the first year (aside from 2009) that saw Wright hit under 20 home runs, but keep in mind that he calls home the Colosseum that is Citi Field, and it's difficult to hit home runs there.
Whether or not Wright has asked to be traded is one thing, but he's been among many rumors over the offseason, including some involving the Philliies. That's because like Youkilis, 2012 is the last guaranteed year of his contract, but unlike Youk, it has a better chance of being his last before free agency. Wright has a $16 million club option for next year with a $1 million buyout, but here's the thing: if he's traded, it becomes a player option, meaning he'd either settle into a new team for one extra year at an insanely high price, or he'd hit free agency next offseason.
Regardless, getting out of Citi Field would be best for Wright. He's won two Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers in his career and has received MVP votes in five of the seven seasons in which he's played over 100 games. On a 162 game average scale (meaning an average full season), Wright would hit 27 home runs, yet with his 10 and 14 home runs totals from 2009 and 2011 averaged in there, you'd think that if he came to Citizens Bank Park, those totals (and that average) would increase.
Wright likely wants out of the financial and on-the-field mess that is the New York Mets. While it would cost a pretty penny, Philadelphia would be a great place for him to play.
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Okay, so maybe this one's a little far-fetched, but hear me out.
Curtis Granderson had a breakout season last year. He hit 41 home runs (second only to Jose Bautista in the majors; his previous career high was 30) and posted the highest OPS of his career at .916, which was comprised of the highest slugging percentage of his career at .552. Despite hitting just .262 last season, in terms of power (and he stole 25 bases by the way), Granderson has got it going on.
Earning both his second All-Star berth and placing fourth in the AL MVP voting, Granderson was also awarded a Silver Slugger for his work at the plate. He's also known for his ability to make great defensive plays, and while there are some better options to man center field out there, he's still among the top of the ranks.
Granderson became a New York Yankee as part of a complex deal that saw Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson go to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth, and Max Scherzer go to the Detroit Tigers after the 2008 season. Initially dubbed a steal by Detroit for nabbing Jackson, a top prospect with incredible potential, at this point in time it's safe to say that, at least of the two, Granderson prevails.
Now I know, you might be thinking that Granderson's season last year was a fluke. I'm right there with you. But also consider this: Yankee Stadium is not as easy to hit a home run in as Citizens Bank Park. Should he come to play here, his numbers could explode.
While he comes at the cool price of $10 million for the final guaranteed season of his deal signed before the 2008 season as a Tiger, Granderson has a $13 million option that will likely advance to $15 million because an incentive in the contract pushes it up by $2 million if Granderson placed in the top five of MVP voting in 2011 (which he did) or 2012. In a possible trade, that's a hefty portion of salary the Phillies would have to pay to definitively retain him beyond 2012, not to mention his $10 million this season isn't what I'd call "inexpensive," but there is worse.
But the Yankees have considered trading him. Both Granderson and second baseman Robinson Cano (who's now regarded as the best at his position in baseball) have 2013 options, and retaining them both beyond 2014 would likely put them over the $189 million luxury tax threshold that takes effect after the 2013 season. The Yankees, who are looking to stay under that mark by 2014, might have to let one of Granderson or Cano go via free agency, but if they were able to reap some of the benefits and trade one beforehand, it could be a little more meaningful for them.
Coming to Philadelphia would either have to shift Shane Victorino to left or Granderson would move there for the interim, unless Victorino was part of said trade. Even so, an outfield with Granderson, Victorino, and Hunter Pence, even if just for half a season? That's the kind of outfield that wins you World Series. If the Phillies have the resources, funds, and mindset of winning it all in 2012, Granderson might just be the guy they're looking for.