As part of the complicated historic trade that officially took place earlier today, Phillippe Aumont came over from the Seattle Mariners in a package of prospects that sent Cliff Lee to the state of Washington and landed Roy Halladay in Philadelphia.
For the Phillies, Halladay was the cornerstone of the blockbuster as he'll anchor the starting rotation for the next four years at the very minimum. While parting ways with Lee was a difficult pill to swallow, it was a move that will benefit the Fightins in a couple of years.
To acquire Doc from Toronto, the Phils had to give up highly touted prospects Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis d'Arnaud. In giving up Drabek and Taylor, Philadelphia traded away two of their top three prospects.
On top of saying goodbye to three solid prospects in this mega deal, Ruben Amaro Jr. dealt four prospects in July to acquire Lee from the Cleveland Indians; Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson.
If you do the math, that's seven players out of the farm system which was ranked fourth best in the league by Baseball America. And while four of those players likely won't cement to anything, it doesn't help the team's depth for years down the line.
By trading Lee, who had one year left on his contract and there was no guarantee that he would have re-signed, the Phillies restocked their farm system by acquiring Aumont, J.C. Ramirez, and Tyson Gillies from Seattle.
Aumont was drafted by the Mariners with the 11th overall pick in the 2007 MLB draft as a starting pitcher out of Gatineau, QC; however Seattle began to groom him into a reliever after injury concerns in 2008.
He was placed on the disabled list twice in the 08 season, and remained on the D.L. from August 21st to the end of the season. The 6'7", 220-pound right-hander posted a 2.75 earned run average in 55.2 innings with 50 strikeouts compared to 19 walks.
Last year, the Mariners had him played for their Advanced A team, the High Desert Mavericks, to start the year as the team's closer. In 29 appearances with the Mavericks, Aumont converted 12 saves while owning a 3.24 ERA while opponents hit .195 off him.
Seattle promoted him to their Double-A affiliate, West Teen Diamond Jaxx, where he had a 5.09 ERA in 15 games.
You may remember seeing Aumont pitch in the World Baseball Classic last spring for Team Canada, especially if you watched the United States-Canada game. He pitched the seventh inning, loading the bases before retiring David Wright, Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson.
The scouting report on Aumont describes him as a power pitcher with a fastball that can be tough to pick up, which can reach 95 MPH, a hard breaking ball and an occasional changeup. He has pretty good command according to scouting reports.
With the Phils' bullpen being one of their few weaknesses, Aumont could get a serious look in Spring Training as a long reliever this coming season, something no one expects him to accomplish this year.
It's not that far-fetched that the Phillies are planning on him relieving in 2010. Clay Condrey has been let go, Chan Ho Park has been offered a contract but wants to start again, and Scott Eyre hasn't re-signed as of yet either.
And with the payroll around $131 million already, that leaves Amaro about nine million to spend on relievers for the rest of the off-season. Philadelphia has been linked to Fernando Rodney and John Smoltz as possible bullpen arms.
Last year, the Phils struggled closing games out. Brad Lidge had a miserable season while Ryan Madson had a decent year when he was in the eighth inning role, but when he had closer duties, he wasn't very good.
Bringing Rodney or Smoltz in to replace Park or Eyre as a late-inning reliever would help shore up the bullpen, but it would still leave holes elsewhere in the 'pen.
To sign Rodney, it'll probably require closer money unless he gets a chance to close. I don't believe Amaro would promise him a chance to replace Lidge as the closer so he'll have to pay top dollar for him, which would bring him right up to the $140 million budget.
Let's say Rodney or Smoltz is brought into the fold as a late innings reliever, there's still a long relieving role up in arms. Pitchers like Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona and Drew Carpenter will be looked at in the Spring, but Aumont shouldn't be ruled out.
This kid has a live arm with movement on his pitches. He throws three pitches, and has a nasty curveball who can get Major League hitters out. I know it was just the WBC, but he did strikeout Youkilis and Granderson, two MLB All-Stars.
Aumont could be a pleasant surprise for the Phillies this season, or he could stay in the minors and never be heard from again. Who knows.
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