Vince Velasquez is the last man standing from Matt Klentak's first big trade with Tom Eshelman dealt to O's

Vince Velasquez is the last man standing from Matt Klentak's first big trade with Tom Eshelman dealt to O's

It’s all on Vince Velasquez's shoulders now.

Vinny Velo is the last man standing from Matt Klentak’s first big trade as Phillies general manager. The power-armed right-hander took over that distinction Monday when the Phillies peddled pitcher Tom Eshelman to the Baltimore Orioles Monday in exchange for $1 million in international signing bonus money.

The Phillies acquired Velasquez and Eshelman, along with pitchers Mark Appel, Brett Oberholtzer and Harold Arauz, from the Houston Astros in exchange for reliever Ken Giles and minor-league infielder Jonathan Arauz in December 2015.

Giles was coming off a big season as Phillies closer and was considered a luxury for a rebuilding team. Klentak packaged him and Jonathan Arauz and sent them to the rising Astros for five pitchers.

Oberholtzer pitched in the rotation and out of the bullpen and was waived in August of his first season with the Phils.

Harold Arauz briefly reached Triple A with the Phillies and mostly struggled at Double A. He became a minor-league free agent after last season and is currently pitching to a 6.56 ERA in the Cardinals’ system.

Appel was the lottery ticket in the deal, a two-time first-round draft pick who went No. 1 overall in 2013. The Phils hoped a move from Houston to Philadelphia would unlock his huge potential. It didn’t. He struggled with injury and ineffectiveness and left the game during the 2017 season.

Not blessed with overpowering stuff, Eshelman was a legendary strike thrower at Cal State Fullerton and he initially shined in the Phillies’ system. He won the Paul Owens Award as the organization’s top minor-league pitcher in 2017 when he went 13-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 23 starts at Double A and Triple A.

Eshelman was invited to big-league camp in the spring of 2018, but he struggled during the regular season. He opened this season at Double A and made his last four starts at Triple A, allowing just eight runs in 26 innings.

The Phillies still might end up turning Eshelman into something in the future with that extra international money.

As for the Houston side of that initial trade, Giles was part of an Astros team that won the World Series in 2017. He had 34 saves for that club. He is now with Toronto and pitching quite well. It’s not out of the question that the Phillies look to reacquire him in the coming weeks as they seek bullpen help.

Jonathan Arauz, still just 20, remains in the low minors with the Astros.

From a Phillies perspective, Velasquez was always the centerpiece of that initial trade with Houston. He is in his fourth season in the majors with the Phils. He was inconsistent in three seasons as a starter and is now filling an important role in the bullpen.

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At the Yard podcast: Zeroing in on Joe Girardi, free agency, 2020 outfield


At the Yard podcast: Zeroing in on Joe Girardi, free agency, 2020 outfield

The Phillies shouldn't let Joe Girardi leave town early this week. Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss the Phillies' second round of interviews and more on the latest At the Yard podcast.

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• Outfield plans for 2020.

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Phillies looking toward the Bronx in future-shaping week

AP Images

Phillies looking toward the Bronx in future-shaping week

Phillies officials begin an important work week Monday, one that will have a significant impact on the team's future.

On Monday, the club will host Joe Girardi at Citizens Bank Park in a second interview for the team's open manager's job.

Girardi met with team officials last Monday in the New York metropolitan area. He is the third candidate to receive a second interview for the position. Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter visited Philadelphia for second interviews on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The Phillies have a narrow focus in their search for a new skipper; they are seeking someone with previous big-league managerial experience. Girardi, Showalter and Baker, with 53 combined years of big-league managing experience and seven manager of the year awards, are the only candidates for the position and it is possible the team could make a hire this week. Thursday could be a target for an announcement as the World Series pauses for an off day between Games 2 and 3.

The Phils could make another important announcement this week. Multiple sources around baseball say the Phils have completed their search for a new amateur scouting director and that Brian Barber is the guy they are locked in on. Barber is a highly regarded national scout for the New York Yankees. His hiring by the Phillies could be announced this week. Barber will replace Johnny Almaraz, who last month stepped down as the Phillies' director of amateur scouting.

Of course, Barber isn't the only man with Yankees roots in the Phillies' sights. Girardi won four World Series rings with the Yankees — three as a player and one as a manager — and is believed to be the Phillies' preferred candidate for manager. 

In addition to having a wealth of experience in running a game with his instincts and intuition, Girardi is well versed in the use of analytics in roster building and game management. Phillies ownership has committed millions to building an analytics department and the club is looking for a manager who can blend a traditional approach to running a game and a team with an approach that uses data and analytics. Girardi managed the Yankees from 2008 to 2017 and in that time the team became an analytics powerhouse.

Girardi is also a candidate for the New York Mets managerial opening. It is not clear if the Mets are prioritizing previous big-league managing experience like the Phillies are. The Mets have interviewed Girardi as well as a number of candidates who have not managed in the big leagues, such as Carlos Beltran and Eduardo Perez.

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