Phillies

Phillies' trade options outside of Manny Machado

Phillies' trade options outside of Manny Machado

There's no player on the trade market who could replicate for the Phillies the impact Manny Machado would've made in August and September. 

There's definitely no player who would've invigorated the fan base as much.

But the Dodgers beat the Phillies' offer for the best available player, so the Phils will look to make other upgrades.

That could involve acquiring a solid, non-star player for the left side of the infield, in addition to pitching help.

If the Phils can't add huge run production to their lineup, their focus could shift to players who'd assist in run prevention.

Here are some names to keep in mind:

Royals super-utilityman Whit Merrifield

There has been reported interest from the Phillies in Merrifield, and the two organizations have already scouted each other because of the earlier interest in Mike Moustakas.

Merrifield can play all over the diamond — first, second, third and all three outfield spots. If Maikel Franco is going well, you could play him in the outfield. If Franco is slumping, he could play third base. But acquiring Merrifield would be just as much about the future as this year.

Merrifield doesn't have nearly the raw power of a Machado or a Moustakas, but he's a proven .290-.300 hitter with gap power, speed and defensive versatility. He led the AL in steals (34) last season and has the third-most doubles (30) in the majors this season.

He would not be cheap to acquire. Merrifield is making $570,000 this season and will be inexpensive again in 2019 before his arbitration years begin. All told, Merrifield is under club control through the end of 2022. These are his prime years and he'll be underpaid for them relative to his performance.

Merrifield is not the same caliber player as Machado, but the cost in trade could end up being similar because Machado is a two-month rental and Merrifield comes with 4½ years of team control. That is a major, major difference that might offset the gap in talent between the two players.

Twins 3B/SS/2B Eduardo Escobar

Another name connected to the Phillies. Escobar, 29, is having a career year, hitting .271/.327/.507 for the Twins with a majors-leading 35 doubles, 14 homers and 57 RBI. 

He's been one of the most clutch players in baseball this season, hitting .367 with a 1.112 OPS with runners in scoring position. That's not exactly a sustainable long-term skill, but it's worth mentioning.

The switch-hitting Escobar would be a rental. He's a free agent at season's end. Thus, it would be cheaper to acquire him than Merrifield.

Top-tier relievers

If the Phils don't get Machado, they could instead land a combination of a bat and a bullpen piece to try to match his overall value.

Zach Britton. Jeurys Familia. Raisel Iglesias. Felipe Vazquez.

Britton would be the cheapest option because he's a free agent after the season. We've known the Phillies have interest in him, and they could still pursue him even if Machado heads out West.

Britton's velocity has returned. He's back to throwing that power sinker in the mid-to-high 90s. His left-handedness would give the Phillies the matchup reliever they need, along with an experienced ninth-inning option that could allow Seranthony Dominguez to be used in a high-leverage role earlier in the game.

If you can't make a move that allows you to comfortably outscore your opponents moving forward, shortening the game is another way to remain in contention.

Baseball has changed. Having upper-echelon relievers in October is more meaningful now than ever before.

Blue Jays pieces

Jim Salisbury reported Monday that as the Phillies await an answer from the Orioles, they're also interested in Blue Jays lefty and former Phillie J.A. Happ.

Acquiring Happ would give the Phils a left-handed starting pitcher, which they haven't had since September 2016. That move could then allow them to move a Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta to the bullpen. Both are high-velocity, strikeout pitchers and both could thrive in a bullpen role. Their velocity and K-rates may even increase.

Imagine the Phillies being up 3-2 with two outs in the sixth inning and their starter at 105 pitches. A combination of Pat Neshek and Velasquez or Pivetta could get you all the way to the ninth. It would also give the Phillies a look at one of those young starting pitchers in that different role to gauge whether it makes the most sense for them long term.

Happ isn't the only Blue Jay to monitor, though. Yangervis Solarte has power and can play every infield position. He also has fair-market club options beyond this year — $5.5 million next season, $8 million the following season.

Curtis Granderson could help, too, as the missing power bat off the bench. Granderson was 0 for 13 heading into the All-Star break, but from June 7 to July 7, he hit .319/.373/.623 with six doubles and five homers.

No, he's not some big-time difference-maker in 2018, but Granderson is a markedly better and more dangerous hitter than the Phillies currently have on the bench.

It's not nearly as sexy of a trade, but acquiring a package of Happ, Granderson and Solarte could improve the Phillies in four different areas: rotation, bullpen, infield and bench.

Josh Donaldson, a much bigger name and more impactful power bat when healthy, is also worth keeping in the back of your mind. Donaldson has been out with a calf injury since Memorial Day but has resumed running and doing baseball activities and could be back by the end of the month. 

He's a free agent after the season as well. The contract status combined with all the time missed over the last two seasons will decrease the price tag. 

But if he's healthy and ready to go, this is a former MVP who hit .282/.377/.524 over the last five seasons with an average of 33 homers and 98 RBI.

More on the Phillies

Andrew McCutchen, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich discuss need to transform American policing

Andrew McCutchen, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich discuss need to transform American policing

How should police be held accountable in order to actually trigger change? That was one of the topics addressed by Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a USA Today piece co-authored by Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, former NFL Pro Bowler and co-founder of the Player Coalition Anquan Boldin, and New Orleans Saints LB Demario Davis.

"The coronavirus has taught the nation how fragile life is. We all feel deeply the impermanence of our world and realize that the people we cling to for security, stability and for love can disappear in a single moment," the piece began.

"But this realization has long been apparent to Black America, as they’ve watched law enforcement unjustly take the lives of black people for decades, ending futures in an instant. The examples could fill the pages of this news site.

"... And in the past few weeks, these examples have come at hyperspeed."

Accountability was a major theme in the op-ed.

"We cannot wait to change hearts and minds — too many people will die while we try," the authors wrote. "We need to transform American policing now. We need changes that will actually alter behavior, prevent officers from harming people with impunity, and allow officials to hold officers and departments accountable when they do.

"First, police chiefs need to have the ability to get bad officers off the street. When officers are caught using racial slurs, engaging in illegal searches and seizures, fabricating evidence or using severe, unlawful force, they should lose their badges, and lose them immediately. But they don't. A USA TODAY investigation last year found a widespread failure to track problem officers whose testimony had helped charge and imprison thousands of people."

The piece calls for Congress to put an end to "qualified immunity," which shields government officials from being sued for discretionary actions within their official capacity unless their actions violate clearly established federal law or constitutional rights.

"Qualified immunity prevents harmed individuals from receiving compensation unless there is another case, already decided, that involved basically identical facts," McCutchen et al wrote. "The likelihood of this type of similarity between acts of wrongdoing is scant at best. Without it, qualified immunity completely shields officers from civil consequences for their illegal acts.

"When we watch people like George Floyd or Eric Garner get choked to death, it is hard to be filled with anything but the utmost despair. But our anger and frustration will not stop police violence. There are meaningful changes that would allow us to police these officers, not just the other way around. We must ensure that victimizing our fellow citizens brings real consequences."

Check out the full piece for more of the conversation.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies

Even Jamie Moyer, King of Clinchers, couldn't lead '08 Phillies to sweep of Brewers

Even Jamie Moyer, King of Clinchers, couldn't lead '08 Phillies to sweep of Brewers

The Phillies went into Milwaukee for Game 3 of the 2008 National League Division Series looking to complete a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Phils had won the first two games of the best-of-five series at home. Cole Hamels pitched a gem to backbone the Game 1 victory and Shane Victorino led the charge against CC Sabathia in the Game 2 victory.

Looking to clinch the series in Game 3, the Phils had the guy they wanted on the mound.

Jamie Moyer was their King of Clinchers. He had been the winning pitcher in the team's NL East division clinchers in 2007 and 2008.

Anyone for a trifecta?

Not this time.

At age 45, Moyer led the Phillies with 16 wins in 2008. He did it by upsetting hitters' timing with an artful changeup and the ability to locate his pitches with precision.

But in Game 3 of the NLDS that day in Milwaukee — you can watch a complete re-airing of the game Wednesday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia — Moyer lacked command of his pitches and the champagne stayed locked in the back room as the Phillies suffered a 4-1 loss to the Brewers.

"I just couldn't create any consistency,'' Moyer said in front of his locker after that game. "I was erratic early in the game."

Moyer wasn't the only Phillie who struggled that day.

The offense had just one hit in 12 opportunities with a runner in scoring position. A few hits in those situations could have gotten Moyer off the hook and maybe the outcome would have been different. Right-hander Dave Bush, a product of Conestoga High School in Berwyn, got the win for the Brewers. He allowed just one run in 5⅓ innings.

The Brewers had 11 hits on the day and all were singles. They also drew five walks. Three of those walks were issued by Moyer and two of them came in the first inning as the Brewers put up a quick two-spot. Moyer needed 34 pitches to get through that inning and was gone after four. He threw a first-pitch strike to just two of the Brewers' first 11 hitters.

Manager Charlie Manuel did not like home plate umpire Brian Runge's strike zone and let that be known during the game, but Moyer used no excuses.

"Ball one, ball two," Moyer said afterward. "That's not good. And their hitters were patient."

That was the Brewers' game plan with Moyer. Don't chase his tantalizing off-speed pitches off the plate. Make him throw the ball over the plate.

"Sometimes it's easier said than done,'' Milwaukee shortstop J.J. Hardy said after that game. "Every time we face Moyer or guys like him, we try to soften our approach and hit line drives up the middle."

Though Moyer did not deliver the clinching effort he'd hoped to that day in Milwaukee, he was still a major contributor during his four-plus seasons in Philadelphia. He won 56 games for the Phillies. In addition to leading the team in wins in 2008, he tied Hamels for the team lead in starts (33) and finished second behind Hamels (227⅓) with 196⅓ innings pitched.

Moyer was a stalwart down the stretch in 2008. He went 9-1 in is final 15 starts and the Phillies won 12 of those games.

So though it didn't happen for him in Game 3 of the NLDS that season, it still happened for him an awful lot in 2008 and his place on that championship team will always be secure and strong.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies