Phillies starting pitcher trade targets
Rays RHP Chris Archer
Archer has been a hot name on the trade market because of his effectiveness, age and contract.
The Rays' ace, who turned 29 in September, has exceeded 200 innings and 230 strikeouts in three straight seasons. Since 2013, he has a 3.60 ERA with 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings, all while pitching in baseball's toughest division. All four opposing teams in the AL East play in bandboxes, which definitely has skewed Archer's numbers.
It would take a ton to pry Archer away from the Rays, even though he's posted ERAs of 4.07 and 4.02 the last two years. He is due just $33.75 million over the next four seasons, which is an amazing price for a frontline starter. And Tampa Bay, being such a small-market, low-payroll team, needs to have elite talent on affordable contracts to have a chance.
The only way the Rays would trade Archer would be if they're bowled over. The prospect cost for the Phillies might be too rich.
Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer
Fulmer has become an intriguing name on the trade market, and the needs of the Phillies and Tigers complement each other well.
Fulmer is a bona fide frontline starter and he'll be under contract through the end of 2022 at relatively cheap prices. Because of that, the Tigers will need to get a massive haul if they trade him.
Fulmer would be worth it. The 2016 Rookie of the Year has a 3.45 ERA in 51 career starts and has shown an impressive ability to limit hard contact. He allowed just 13 home runs last season in 165 innings, the lowest rate for any American League pitcher. Some of that is a result of spacious Comerica Park, but most of it is Fulmer.
To get in the running for Fulmer, the Phillies might have to offer up something involving Cesar Hernandez, Nick Williams and more. The Phils won't want to move Sixto Sanchez, but if you want top, proven talent, you sometimes have to trade massive upside.
Rangers LHP Cole Hamels
This won't happen during the offseason, but if the Rangers aren't contending in July, they may look to trade Hamels. Time flies — Hamels is entering the final guaranteed year of the six-year, $144 million contract he signed with the Phillies back in 2012.
Hamels makes $22.5 million this season and has a $20 million club option for 2019. He is still a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter but is no longer the pitcher he once was. In 24 starts last season, Hamels had a 4.20 ERA and struck out just 105 batters in 148 innings. That 6.4 K/9 was by far the lowest of his career. In 2016, he struck out 200 in 200 innings.
Hamels made news in the most positive of ways this week by donating his nearly $10 million mansion to charity.
Royals LHP Danny Duffy
Duffy was the rare player to get paaaaaid by the mid-market Royals. He signed a five-year, $65 million extension in January 2017 which runs through 2021.
Kansas City backloaded the deal with only $5 million being paid to Duffy in 2017. Over these next four seasons, he'll make $60 million. Kansas City could use some of that money to re-sign one or more of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain.
Duffy, a 28-year-old lefty, has quietly been very good the last two seasons. In 66 appearances (50 starts), he has a 3.64 ERA with 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.3 walks.
This would be a solid get for the Phillies if they can swing it. Duffy would not cost as much in a trade as Archer, Michael Fulmer or Gerrit Cole, and he'd give the Phillies the left-handed starting pitcher they've lacked since trading Hamels.
Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole
The Pirates are in no rush to trade Cole, their ace. He is under team control through the end of the 2019 season, so Pittsburgh could hold onto him and instead shop him in July when he still has 1½ seasons left under contract.
Cole is not coming off his best season. As home runs skyrocketed across baseball, he was one of the primary victims. After allowing 36 home runs in 579 career innings from 2013-16, Cole allowed 31 just last season. His 4.26 ERA was more than a full run higher than his previous career mark of 3.23. His 1.44 WHIP was significantly higher than his previous 1.21.
The Yankees have been mentioned a lot in connection to Cole but don't seem willing to trade top prospect Gleyber Torres.
Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin
Corbin would be the cheapest trade option on this list for the Phillies. He's a free agent after 2018 and is more of a No. 4 starter.
In 2017, he went 14-13 with a 4.03 ERA and 178 K's in 190 innings. Right-handed hitters batted .292 with an .830 OPS against him.
Unless the Phillies just really like what they've seen from Corbin and feel confident they'd be able to re-sign him to a logical contract, a trade for Corbin doesn't seem worthwhile.
Diamondbacks RHP Zack Greinke
Greinke has been a surprise addition to the trade market this winter after rebounding strongly in Year 2 in the desert. Greinke adjusted to hitter-friendly Chase Field, going 17-7 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.07 WHIP last season. The previous year, he had a 4.37 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.
The reason Greinke may be available is his contract. Arizona signed him to the richest annual average salary ever for a pitcher prior to 2016 — six years, $206.5 million.
Of that contract, four years and $126.5 million remain.
Greinke has a clause in his contract that would allow him to block a trade to 15 teams.
The Phillies certainly have money, and a trade for Greinke would likely involve lesser prospects than for Fulmer, Archer, Duffy or Cole because the D-backs would be clearing so much salary.
But the Phillies do not want to pay for past performance or obtain a high-priced pitcher on the wrong side of 30. So this seems unlikely.