Phillies

OK, where will Asdrubal Cabrera play and what's next before the trade deadline for Phillies?

OK, where will Asdrubal Cabrera play and what's next before the trade deadline for Phillies?

CINCINNATI — By acquiring veteran Asdrubal Cabrera from the New York Mets in exchange for pitching prospect Franklyn Kilome on Friday, the Phillies believe they crossed off the biggest item on their trade-deadline wish list.

“I think he answers our most pressing need, which was more offense in the infield,” general manager Matt Klentak said shortly after consummating the deal.

Klentak said he expects Cabrera to join the Phillies in time for Saturday night’s game in Cincinnati.

Now, the question becomes: Where will the 32-year-old switch-hitter play? He has been the Mets' regular second baseman this season. He has been a regular at shortstop in previous seasons. He can also play third base.

The first-place Phillies are quite happy with their starting second baseman, Cesar Hernandez, and third baseman Maikel Franco has been on such a tear for more than a month that he has played himself off the trading block.

The obvious place for Cabrera to play would be shortstop, where rookie Scott Kingery has just a .619 OPS. Playing Cabrera at shortstop would allow the Phillies to use Kingery in the super-utility role that he seemed headed for back in spring training.

“I don’t necessarily agree that Kingery will be the one that takes the brunt of this,” Klentak said. “I think we really like the way that Scott has continued to develop as a defender at shortstop and we like the way that he’s been swinging the bat lately and obviously we think very highly of the player. 

"So I think Scott Kingery will continue to play fairly regularly and Asdrubal will work in at a few different spots and we will make sure that all of these guys get reps and ultimately that we are running out the most competitive lineup on a daily basis.

“Asdrubal has a track record of proven success in the batter’s box. He’s a switch-hitter, which means every time he is in the batter’s box we will have the platoon advantage. And as important as anything, he covers us at three defensive positions, and as we were looking to bolster our roster for a pennant race, the idea of finding a player that could provide us with that flexibility was really important.

“I would expect that we’ll see him at times at second, short and third. When he’s not playing, I think he’ll be a very dangerous bat off the bench. He’s an excellent roster fit for this current group of Phillies and notably, I think, his positional flexibility puts us in a position where we can continue to let our young players play. This acquisition doesn’t relegate any of our young players to a full-time bench role and I think that is important, too.”

Klentak praised manager Gabe Kapler’s ability to get everyone playing time and put players in positions to succeed. When push comes to shove, look for Kapler to find a way to get Cabrera in the lineup more often than not. He was hitting .277 with 18 homers, 58 RBIs and an .817 OPS in 98 games with the Mets this season.

The Phillies had set their sights high in their quest to add a bat to their infield, but were not able to land Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles. The Phils also considered Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar, who was dealt to Arizona. Cabrera is a two-time All-Star, who sports a .270 career batting average and .756 OPS in 12 big-league seasons.

So what’s next for the Phillies? Will they make another deal before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline?

Sources say they are still interested in Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones and the Dallas Morning News reports that the Phils have shown interest in power-hitting outfielder Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers. Both would likely come as complementary players in the outfield if a deal were to happen.

“I think this was our most pressing need, so it was important that we got this one done,” Klentak said of the Cabrera deal. “Obviously, we still have a few days until the deadline and we're going to continue making phone calls and looking for any possible way that we can upgrade this club. We will continue to balance the present versus the future with every move we contemplate and we'll see where those phone calls take us. I wouldn't rule out another move, but I wouldn't predict one either.”

Six weeks ago, the Phillies were looking for upgrades at third base and in the bullpen. But Franco has become a difference-maker at the plate and the bullpen has been the best in baseball in July. That’s not to say the Phillies wouldn’t add a reliever if it was a fit. It just might not be as pressing.

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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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