Phillies

MLB trade rumors: Mike Minor would be ideal fit but do Phillies have realistic shot at him?

MLB trade rumors: Mike Minor would be ideal fit but do Phillies have realistic shot at him?

The Phillies continue to maintain interest in Rangers left-hander Mike Minor. At some point, though, you have to wonder whether Texas will really trade him.

The Rangers are five games over .500 at 50-45 even after losing three in a row. Trailing the Astros by 8½ games and Athletics by 4½ games, they are unlikely to win the AL West. 

But the playoffs are not out of reach for Texas. The Rangers have a big four-game series in Oakland July 25-28 and then face the Indians a week later. Those are the two teams tied for the second wild-card spot in the AL.

The Rangers are also moving into a new ballpark in 2020. Teams tend to want to be competitive in that first year of a new stadium. The Rangers would be much more competitive with Minor than without him.

Could they be blown away by an offer for the lefty? Sure. It will take a strong offer. Minor is not only one of the two or three best pitchers on the trade market, he is also under a great contract. Minor is owed about $3.2 million after Aug. 1 and $9.5 million in 2020. An acquiring team could potentially ride Minor to the playoffs twice while paying him less than $13 million total.

For those reasons — the Rangers' fringe playoff hopes, the new ballpark, Minor's production and contract — he will likely be the most expensive starting pitcher to acquire in a trade this month. He's not a rental like Madison Bumgarner or owed $70 million like Zack Greinke.

Minor has been so good for the Rangers. He's 8-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 19 starts and has averaged 6.4 innings per start. For reference, Aaron Nola has averaged 5.8 innings per start. 

The Phillies could really use Minor's left-handedness and his ability to go deep into games. Right now, the Phillies have three pitchers — Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez — who cannot be trusted to go deeper than five innings. Then there's Zach Eflin, who is only four starts away from setting a new career-high in innings. The rotation situation right now is not sustainable for a team that wants to stay in the race. Minor would be a massive upgrade.

But again, it will take a lot to acquire him. The Rangers would be wise to ask for someone like Spencer Howard — a top pitching prospect the Phillies have been uninterested in moving in previous proposals — plus more. That trade might also cost someone like Mickey Moniak or Adam Haseley, in addition to a third piece. 

It is a seller's market this month. Literally every contender except the Dodgers needs starting pitching. The Phillies' path to landing Minor will be difficult.

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Another loss as Phillies continue to play their way out of NL wild-card picture

Another loss as Phillies continue to play their way out of NL wild-card picture

BOX SCORE

The Phillies continued to play their way out of National League wild-card picture on Sunday. They dropped a 6-3 decision to the Boston Red Sox, who completed a two-game interleague series sweep at Citizens Bank Park.

The loss dropped the Phillies to four games out of the second wild-card spot and they could be 4 ½ games out by the end of the day, depending on the outcome of the Chicago Cubs-Pittsburgh Pirates game in Chicago.

The Phils have just 14 games left.

Christian Vazquez paced Boston’s offense with a grand slam against starter Jason Vargas in the third inning.

The Phillies did not get much offense in the two-game series. They scored just four runs. (They lost Saturday night’s game, 2-1.) They had just 12 hits and only two of them were for extra bases. (Rhys Hoskins had them both, a double Saturday night and a homer Sunday.)

Phillies hitters also struck out 25 times in the two games.

Ouch.

Vargas’ day

For the second straight start, Vargas lasted just three innings. He hit a batter, gave up a single and a one-out walk before serving up the grand slam to Vazquez in the third. Vargas also made a throwing error that led to a run in the first inning.

The left-hander is not exactly providing a lift down the stretch. He has a 7.63 ERA in his last four starts and the Phillies have lost three of those games.

Booted

Bryce Harper was ejected in the fourth inning for giving home plate umpire Gabe Morales an earful from the dugout. Moments earlier, Morales had rung up Harper on a pitch outside the strike zone. He also missed a pitch in Harper’s first at-bat. Manager Gabe Kapler was also ejected after he came out of the dugout to protest Harper’s ejection. It was believed to be the first time in major-league history that a guy named Gabe ejected another guy named Gabe.

Harper’s second ejection of the season meant the Phillies were forced to play the remainder of the game without one of their top players, never a good thing with the season on the line — at least mathematically.

Harper was replaced in right field by September call-up Jose Pirela. Not long ago, the Phillies likely would have replaced Harper with Nick Williams. But Williams is hitting .157 and is buried so deeply on the bench it makes you wonder why he was added in September.

Dickerson still sore

Corey Dickerson was out of the starting lineup for a third straight game because of a sore left foot. Brad Miller got the start in left field. The Phillies have missed Dickerson’s bat. Added at the trade deadline, he drove in 34 runs in his first 33 games with the club.

A little too hospitable

The Phillies are just 11-21 all-time against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park.

On the bright side, the Phils are 11-20 all-time at Fenway Park.

Wait a minute. There’s nothing bright about that.

Overall

The Phillies are 76-72. They need to win six of their final 14 games to have a winning season.

Up next

The Phillies are off on Monday. They open a three-game series in Atlanta against the Braves on Tuesday night.

Pitching matchups:

Tuesday night — RHP Vince Velasquez (6-7, 4.95) vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (8-5, 3.35)

Wednesday night — RHP Zach Eflin (8-12, 4.20) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (10-9, 3.50)

Thursday afternoon — RHP Aaron Nola (12-5, 3.62) vs. RHP Mike Soroka (12-4, 2.47)

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Aaron Nola has a big fan in Boston

Aaron Nola has a big fan in Boston

Over the last two seasons, the Boston Red Sox have faced Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber and Blake Snell, just to name a handful of the top pitchers in the American League. That quartet of arms has combined for four Cy Young Awards and 10 other top 5 finishes in their careers.

So the Sox have seen some pitching over the last two seasons.

That’s what makes this comment about Aaron Nola from Boston manager Alex Cora so remarkable:

“We’ve seen him the last two years,” Cora said. “With all due respect to all the pitchers that we have faced, he’s been the best one. I love the way he competes, love his stuff, he doesn’t panic. He’s pitched twice over there at home and (once) here, but with the offense that we have, he still dominates us.”

Cora made this comment during his postgame session with reporters after Saturday night’s game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Red Sox rallied against Hector Neris in the top of the ninth and won, 2-1. They did little against Nola earlier in the game. The right-hander scattered four hits and a run over seven innings and struck out nine.

On August 20 in Boston, Nola beat the Red Sox with seven innings of four-hit, two-run ball.

Last season, he pitched eight innings of one-run ball in a 2-1, 13-inning loss at Fenway Park.

So in three career starts against Boston, Nola has allowed just 12 hits and four runs over 22 innings. He has racked up 22 strikeouts and walked just five.

Nola, 26, signed a four-year, $45 million contract with the Phillies in February. Had he not signed and gone to arbitration this winter, his agent surely would have used Cora's appraisal in negotiations.

“They really have a good one,” Cora said. “He’s a special one. It would have been cool to face him in October, but I guess we’ll face him next year.”

If the Red Sox see Nola next season, it will have to be in the World Series. The two teams, frequent interleague opponents, are not scheduled to play each other during the regular season next year. Only a rematch of the 1915 World Series would pit them against each other in October. That actually sounds fun.

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