Phillies

MLB trade rumors: Bench bats who could help Phillies' league-worst pinch-hitting

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MLB trade rumors: Bench bats who could help Phillies' league-worst pinch-hitting

Given the Phillies' lack of pinch-hitting this season, it was no surprise to see Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal mention over the weekend that they are looking for a left-handed hitter open to a bench role.

Phillies pinch-hitters have gone 13 for 85, hitting .153 with two walks and 28 strikeouts. No National League team has gotten less from its pinch-hitters. The Phillies lack a big bat off the bench who can change a game with one swing. Right now, the bench consists of Sean Rodriguez, Phil Gosselin, Andrew Knapp and whoever does not play among the Scott Kingery-Nick Williams-Maikel Franco group.

Decent options will become available for the Phillies via trade if they have not already, players who won't cost much to acquire. Let's take a look at some players who fit the left-handed description and could help:

Nationals 1B Matt Adams

Adams has been a solid hitter throughout his career and accepting of any role. He has also performed well in extensive pinch-hitting opportunities, hitting .274 with a .790 OPS and 10 home runs in 211 career pinch-hit plate appearances.

Adams' team, the Nationals, are 23-32 and 9½ games behind the Phillies in the NL East. Washington's -30 run differential is fourth-worst in the NL and paints a picture of a team that may not be able to claw its way back into the race. All of the bullpen issues that have plagued the Nats since opening day are still there.

The issue with Adams is that he's one-dimensional — he can play only first base. He's seen time in the corner outfield in the past but he's never been effective there and will soon be 31. The Phillies wouldn't use Adams in the outfield. He'd basically be the 2019 version of Justin Bour.

The Phillies, ideally, want versatility out of their bench pieces and Adams wouldn't provide that. It still shouldn't close the door on him, though, because of what he can contribute in one at-bat per game off the bench.

Nationals OF Gerardo Parra

I mentioned Parra here a few weeks ago when he was designated for assignment by the Giants because of the impact he can make offensively and defensively. He ended up signing with the Nats on May 9 and has played very well so far, hitting .314 with three doubles, two homers and nine RBI in 12 games.

Parra is still one of the game's better defensive outfielders and can play all three outfield spots in addition to first base. He's as good a hitter, if not a better one, than any member of the Phillies' bench.

Marlins INF/OF Neil Walker

Walker offers more positional versatility because he can play first base, second base, third base and both corner outfield spots. He's off to a good start this season, hitting .295/.372/.438 for a terrible Marlins team.

Walker is a switch-hitter who has always been more effective from the left side. He has a career .798 OPS as a left-handed hitter. He's also always hit well at Citizens Bank Park, posting an .881 OPS in 36 career games, his second-highest OPS anywhere he's played more than 20 times.

Reds INF/OF Derek Dietrich

This one is a longshot because of the torrid start Dietrich is off to. He homered three more times on Tuesday night, giving him 17 for the season. He's become an important player to the Reds, but he's also probably not the kind of player they'd find meaningful value for on the trade market.

If Cincy goes on a big slide before July and he becomes available, Dietrich should top the list for any team looking for bench help. Makes you wonder why so many teams let him just linger in free agency. The Marlins designated him for assignment in November, he cleared waivers fully and then waited three months before signing a minor-league deal with the Reds. Anyone could have had him. And it's not as if this is the first year Dietrich has been a productive hitter. From 2015-18, his OPS was 14 percent better than the league average.

Marlins OF Curtis Granderson

Granderson's offensive profile fits what the Phillies like: He sees pitches, takes his walks, hits for power but will strike out a lot. This season, he's hit just .182 with six homers, 18 walks and 46 strikeouts, and has astonishingly been worse against righties than he has against lefties.

He'd probably be more of a fall-back option among this group, but it is worth mentioning that in 2017 and 2018, Granderson hit .349 in 53 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter with two homers, two doubles and an on-base percentage of nearly .500.

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Baseball America’s always interesting Top 100 Prospects list landed this week and the Phillies are represented with two players in the top half.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard ranks 27th on the list and third baseman Alec Bohm 28th. Both players are projected to open the coming season at Triple A and get to the majors at some point in 2020. Both have been invited to major-league spring training camp, which begins in less than three weeks in Clearwater. See the complete list of Phillies’ in-house non-roster invites here.

Howard, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2017. We profiled him here.

In its story on the Top 100 prospects, Baseball America offered this take on Howard: Triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and the ability to work the edges of the strike zone, Howard flashes front-end potential.

Bohm, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS at three levels, including Double A in 2019. We profiled him here.

Baseball America offered this take on Bohm: Even with questions about whether he’ll have to move to first base, Bohm has the feel to hit and plus power to hit in the middle of the Phillies’ order, and soon.

Shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list for the second year in a row. The Rays placed eight players on the list. Because of a loaded farm system, the Rays were unable to protect left-hander Cristopher Sanchez on their 40-man roster and the Phillies traded for him in November. Read about Sanchez here.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed seven players on the list and the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres had six each.

The Miami Marlins led National League East teams with five players in the Top 100, including former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who was traded for J.T. Realmuto a year ago. Sanchez ranks 16th on the list and is projected to arrive in the majors sometime in 2020.

The Atlanta Braves placed four players on the list and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets joined the Phillies with two players.

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