25 Players the Philadelphia Phillies Wish They Never Traded
They say hindsight is 20/20.
More often than not, that's more fact than cliche when it comes to the sport of baseball. Transactions, especially trades, are a gamble. One player can perform better in a certain market while the other could fall flat on his face.
One of the biggest grey areas in the sport is also one of the biggest debates: prospects. Do you trade unproven players for established, MLB-proven guys? Do you keep your top prospects and hope to develop a contender through your own system?
That debate will never end.
However, it would be nearly impossible to operate as a franchise without having to make those tough decisions, and that's true for the Philadelphia Phillies, especially over the last couple of seasons, but in the past as well.
There are going to be prospects, and even MLB players, that teams don't want to move but have to. There are going to be players that they do want to move and later regret. It's just part of the game.
Here are 25 players that the Phillies once traded but, in hindsight, never should have moved.
Cookie Rojas was never a sensational player, but he played the game the right way and wound up being a valuable player for any ball club to have. Those kind of attributes helped him to become a favorite of the fans in Philadelphia.
After seven seasons with the Phillies, they dealt him to the St. Louis Cardinals in the same deal that sent slugger Richie Allen to the Midwest.
He would go on to appear in four All-Star Games later in his career, as a member of the Kansas City Royals.
You think the Phillies might have given up on right-handed pitcher Jack Sanford a bit too soon?
After winning 19 games and the Rookie of the Year award as a member of the Phillies in 1957, Sanford struggled the following season and found himself on the chopping block as the Phillies, who obviously thought he was a flash in the pan, looked to trade him.
The San Francisco Giants showed interest and eventually sent Ruben Gomez and Valmy Thomas to the Phillies to complete the deal.
Sanford won 89 games for the Giants and finished second in the 1962 Cy Young voting.
It's not often that trading a reliever, especially when you find them "expendable," comes back to bite you in the "you know what," but that's exactly what happened to the Phillies when they traded Willie Hernandez to the Detroit Tigers.
After selecting him from the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft, the Chicago Cubs worked out a deal to send the left-handed reliever back to Philly. Half a season later, the Phillies decided to deal him.
In their minds, the emergence of Al Holland made Hernandez expendable, so they traded him to the Tigers following the 1983 season.
While the deal did net the Phillies Glenn Wilson, Hernandez would help pitch the Tigers to a World Series title in 1984 after winning both the Cy Young Award and the MVP award.
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Throughout their history, the Phillies have been kind of notorious for a few things. Trading players before they realize their potential in the city of Philadelphia is among them. Amongst those players? Mark Davis.
The Phillies made Davis the first overall pick of the January secondary draft in 1979 and had already decided to trade him by the beginning of the 1983 season.
It would end up being a solid deal for the Phillies, who acquired both Joe Morgan and Al Holland—vital pieces to their 1983 squad that appeared in the World Series—from the San Francisco Giants.
But that was for the present. The Giants were getting a better player for the future, because although they too would miss out on his better years, Davis would eventually appear in two All-Star Games and capture a Cy Young Award as a member of the San Diego Padres.
You could make the argument that the Phillies made the right decision by trading Larry Bowa to the Chicago Cubs, but I'm going to disagree.
Following the 1981 season, the Phillies dealt Bowa—their longtime shortstop—because they thought he was at the end of his run. Even at 35 years old, he was definitely a firecracker, and the club had tired of his antics.
The Phillies saw a chance to add some potential when the Chicago Cubs dangled Ivan De Jesus. All they had to do was sweeten the pot with Ryne Sandberg and the deal was done.
Of course, it was the worst trade in Phillies' history as the club parted with one of the game's best defensive shortstops and a future Hall of Famer for what would realistically amount to nothing.
They would have been better off just keeping Bowa.
Talk about a bad chain of baseball events.
When the Phillies dealt Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners, it had "bad deal" written all over it. The following season, even with Roy Halladay in tow, the Phillies would find themselves in need of a starting pitcher at the trade deadline in 2010. Enter Roy Oswalt.
Given the future of the Phillies' middle infield, with uncertainty surrounding both Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley and only Freddy Galvis waiting in the wings, Villar would have been a solid prospect to have waiting around over the next couple of seasons.
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The Phillies felt as though they needed to make a splash prior to the 1983 season and went out and got a player that they thought could be the next cornerstone of their franchise: Von Hayes.
Of course, acquiring Hayes from the Cleveland Indians was going to be pricey. It took a total of five players to land the outfielder, among them Julio Franco.
Though he didn't have much power to speak of, Franco would go on to become one of the game's better contact hitters and become known for his longevity—an incredible 23-year career.
Franco was a five-time Silver Slugger and three-time All-Star.
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When you look at the situation now, it is easy to say that the Phillies made the right decision by moving Bobby Abreu, a guy that has somehow gained a reputation as a clubhouse cancer that held down the Phillies' young core.
I'm not so sure about that.
While Abreu had his issues, there is no doubt that he would have helped the club within the years following his trade to the New York Yankees. All he had to do was show some patience.
Abreu's career with the Phillies had been an impressive one. He had posted an OPS of .928 and hit 195 home runs, amongst other achievements.
Trading him should have stocked the Phillies' farm system, but instead, all Pat Gillick was able to get in return was salary relief.
Now you can believe that Abreu was a cancer to the Phillies' young core and that trading him was a necessity. That's probably true. What I struggle to believe is that there wasn't a better offer on the table for Abreu.
This seems like another instance of the Phillies' ownership being terribly cheap, and to be honest, if my options were to trade Abreu to the Yankees or hold on to him, I'd have probably kept him.
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Thanks to a slew of big trades in recent seasons, the Phillies' farm system is lacking high-end positional prospects. Given the current state of the MLB roster, that's not a good thing.
One player that really could have helped the Phillies within the next few seasons is outfielder Domingo Santana, traded to the Houston Astros as part of the Hunter Pence package.
A right-handed hitter, Santana is a big-time power prospect—something that the Phillies find themselves in desperate need of with Pence just a year and a half away from free agency.
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Gavin Floyd was an early-first-round draft pick and a highly touted prospect for several seasons in the Phillies' organization, so if their history tells us one thing, it is that the Phillies would eventually trade him, and they did.
The Phillies made one of the worst trades of all-time when they packaged Floyd, who had fallen flat on his face in Philadelphia, with fellow pitcher Gio Gonzalez and sent them to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for former All-Star Freddy Garcia.
Garcia pitched in all of 11 games for the Phillies and won just one game.
Floyd, meanwhile, has gone on to become a mainstay in the White Sox's rotation, winning 58 games over six seasons.
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To this day, I find myself wondering why Placido Polanco made such a big deal about not wanting to move over to third base back in 2004.
The Phillies, who had acquired him in the deal that sent Scott Rolen to the St. Louis Cardinals, found themselves with a bit of a logjam at second base when they realized that Polanco was blocking the future of the franchise—Chase Utley.
A free agent after the season, the Phillies assumed that Polanco would walk in free agency, so they offered him arbitration and prepared to offer the job to Utley. Well, you know what they say about assuming.
Polanco accepted arbitration and returned to the Phillies in 2005, and the logjam continued (while the Utley-at-third-base experiment failed miserably).
Finally, the Phillies and Polanco would part ways at the trade deadline when the Detroit Tigers acquired him for a future convict (Ugueth Urbina) and a utility man (Ramon Martinez).
It would have taken some compromise, but given the way the future played out, you have to think that the Phillies would have been better off if Polanco just accepted a move to third base.
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The Phillies gave up on left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez enough times to make your head spin.
Gonzalez was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2004. The Phillies acquired him as part of the Jim Thome deal prior to the 2006 season. They would then send him back to the White Sox in exchange for the infamous Freddy Garcia.
Gonzalez would go on to develop into quite the starting pitcher, appearing in his first All-Star Game in 2011 and returning in 2012 for his second appearance after signing a big deal with the Washington Nationals, who acquired him from the Oakland Athletics.
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The Phillies could use a right-handed hitting, powerful outfielder right about now, and they had one right up until December of 2009.
Of course, that was the month that the Phillies would acquire Toronto Blue Jays' ace Roy Halladay and send Michael Taylor to the Jays as part of the package. They would later flip him to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Brett Wallace.
Taylor has mashed Triple-A pitching and is ready to tackle the next stage, which of course, would be the MLB.
Given the Phillies' current situation in the outfield, having both Domonic Brown and Taylor waiting in the wings would have been a blessing.
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Of course, Anthony Gose would have been a great fit for the Phillies right about now as well.
The Phillies, continuing their string of big deadline trades, sent the speedy outfielder to the Houston Astros as part of the package that would land them Roy Oswalt. The Astros would go on to flip him to the Toronto Blue Jays for Brett Wallace, where he has thrived.
Gose, a left-handed hitting outfielder, recently made his MLB debut for the Blue Jays, and it should go without saying that the Phillies could use a prospect of his caliber ready to step into the MLB and play everyday.
(Wait, you're telling me that Domonic Brown still plays for the Phillies? Hmm).
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When you look at what this trade eventually brought the Phillies, I would think that they would pull the trigger on this deal over and over again, but it would certainly be nice to have Michael Bourn around at the top of the Phillies' order.
Of course, the Phillies dealt him to the Houston Astros as the centerpiece of the the deal that brought Brad Lidge to the club prior to the 2008 season, where he would be perfect as a closer and help the Phillies win the World Series.
But Bourn has had himself a nice career to date as well. The speedy outfielder has gone on to win a pair of Gold Gloves and appear in two All-Star Games.
The cheap Phillies strike again.
If there was ever a player that deserved to finish his career with one team, it was right-handed pitcher Jim Bunning.
The Phillies acquired Bunning from the Detroit Tigers for pennies on the dollar, and he was a blessing for the club. He tossed the first perfect game in franchise history and made them a legitimate contender in 1964 for the first time in what must have felt like forever.
After finishing second in the 1967 Cy Young voting, the Phillies would deal Bunning, to the Pittsburgh Pirates, no less.
Though he struggled, and would eventually be shipped off to the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was clear that Bunning never should have left Philadelphia.
They say you have to give something to get something, and when the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays, the popular consensus was that the so-called "something" was going to be top Phillies' prospect Kyle Drabek.
Fast-forward a couple of seasons and it was actually Travis d'Arnaud, the top catching prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com.
While the Phillies have a name on that list as well in Sebastian Valle, there is no doubt that D'Arnaud is the better catching prospect. MLB.com also named D'Arnaud the 19th best prospect in all of baseball. Valle isn't on that list.
D'Arnaud has done nothing but mash the baseball since arriving in the Blue Jays' system, and while the Phillies will certainly be happy with Halladay, there's no doubt that they'll wonder what could have been with D'Arnaud.
It goes without saying that the Phillies' system isn't as strong right now as it was a couple of seasons ago, and a large part of the reason is because this guy is playing for the Houston Astros now.
Scouts love Jonathan Singleton. He has great bat speed and a smooth stroke, and the Phillies really could have used that bat in their own lineup in a couple of seasons.
Instead, they took a gamble on the here and now and acquired a different bat: Hunter Pence.
Singleton has torn the cover off of the ball since joining the Astros, and many scouts believe that he'll go on to anchor the middle of the Astros' order for years to come.
This is another one of those situations where a player wanted to be traded, but instead of helping the franchise, the Phillies backed themselves into a corner and shot themselves in the foot trying to get out.
By 2000, Curt Schilling had enough of the Phillies, and rightfully so. After anchoring the Phillies' rotation for several years, including that 1993 season, they had given him no indication that they were ready to turn things around any time soon.
He wanted to be traded.
The Phillies had an opportunity to add a couple of top prospects to their system that summer. Schilling a bona-fide big-game pitcher, 6-6 with a 3.91 ERA.
Instead, they dealt him to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a slew of replacement-level players. If you're not going to land pieces that will help the future of the organization, just keep him.
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This is the kind of trade that leaves the fans scratching their heads.
They'd been beaten over that same head for months, listening to the Phillies preach about their "commitment to winning." Adding Roy Halladay was excellent. Trading Cliff Lee was synonymous with being a gigantic hypocrite.
The Phillies dealt Lee to the Seattle Mariners prior to the 2010 season for less-than-excellent prospects. The void in their starting rotation left them seeking help at the trade deadline and forced them to move more top prospects for Roy Oswalt.
The thought process behind the deal was that the Phillies would be able to save some salary and restock the farm system. However, the Phillies would lose more prospects later that year and eventually wind up paying Lee about 13 times as much as the $9 million he was owed in 2010.
The Phillies should have just kept Lee and put their money where their mouth was. Show you're committed to winning.
Believe it or not, the Phillies used to be cheap. When you look at their all-time record, that shouldn't be difficult to figure it out.
But there was no cheaper moment in the history of this franchise than when the owners refused to pay Pete Alexander, the greatest player in the history of the franchise up to that point, and traded him to the Chicago Cubs.
The Phillies received a pair of replacement level players that would spend a total of three seasons in Philadelphia—combined.
Meanwhile, Alexander would go on to dominate with the Chicago Cubs and help the St. Louis Cardinals win a World Series title before returning to Philadelphia.
It's a rare thing for a player to spend his entire career with a single organization, but the Phillies' organization and Curt Simmons were a great pair and probably should have done it. That wasn't the case.
The Phillies found Simmons when they traveled to the Lehigh Valley area to play in a promotional game against the state's high school All-Stars. It was a game that was started, and nearly won, by left-handed pitcher Curt Simmons.
The lefty was quickly signed to his first professional contract and made his MLB debut later that season. He would go on to pitch for 13 seasons with the club and win 115 games, but the Phillies thought it was time to move on.
I'm cheating a bit here because Simmons wasn't traded, but this is a player and a situation that I feel strongly about. Instead of re-signing Simmons in free agency, the Phillies let him walk to the St. Louis Cardinals where he became a bona-fide Phillies' killer.
Fittingly enough, he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals team that started the "Phold" and eventually won the World Series.
The Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals have hooked up on a number of trades in their respective histories, with both sides winning and losing more than a few. This one was a loss for the Phillies.
The club had grown tired with the antics of slugger Richie Allen and had finally decided to part ways, at least for the time being. The Cardinals showed interested and agreed to deal Curt Flood, Byron Browne, Joe Hoerner and Tim McCarver to the Phillies.
It was a mess.
Flood refused to report to the Phillies, and the Cardinals were forced to send them Willie Montanez and Jim Browning instead.
When all was said and done, Allen would spend just a single season in St. Louis. He'd go on to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, winning an MVP Award with the latter, before returning to the Phillies.
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Any time you trade a player and they wind up in the Hall of Fame, there's a good chance that you'd want them back in hindsight. Count these next two deals amongst those ranks—both between the Phillies and Chicago Cubs.
Fergie Jenkins didn't do anything overly impressive for the Phillies, but had loads of potential. They saw him as expendable. The Cubs wanted him.
The Phillies would eventually send him to the Cubbies in exchanged for Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl. Ouch.
Jenkins would go on to spend 10 seasons with the Cubs and win 167 of his 284 career wins. He'd also sped a significant amount of time with the Texas Rangers, where he won another 93 games.
He'd win just two for the Phillies.
Now, he's a Hall of Famer.
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Here it is. The deal that is almost too painful for Phillies' fans to think about.
With Larry Bowa apparently at the end of his run in Philadelphia, the Phillies found themselves on the lookout for a replacement at shortstop, and the Chicago Cubs were dangling 28-year-old shortstop Ivan de Jesus.
The Phillies and Cubs had essentially agreed to swap their shortstops, as long as the Phillies would "throw in" a prospect. Cubs' general manager Dallas Green, formerly with the Phillies, was given a list to choose from, and on it was second-base prospect Ryne Sandberg.
The rest is history.
Sandberg would spend all but 13 games (with the Phillies as a rookie) of his career with the Cubs. He collected 2,386 hits in his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.