Nick Williams has played so well over the last six weeks that the Phillies no longer have a need for an everyday rightfielder … or really, even a platoon partner.
In his last 39 games, Williams has hit .311 with a .393 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage. He's hit seven homers, a triple, four doubles, driven in 22 runs and reached base 18 times via walk and hit by pitch during that span.
That's a quarter-season's worth of elite offensive production, a stretch in which Williams' .908 OPS is seventh-best among National League outfielders (Rhys Hoskins is second to Gregory Polanco).
Touted for his quick bat speed on his way to the majors, Williams is proving himself to be a capable power-hitting corner outfielder. He has 26 homers and 94 RBI in 645 career plate appearances — essentially a season's worth.
He's a good baserunner. He's a good defender. Williams' running, leaping catch in the right field corner Friday night in Cincinnati robbed Billy Hamilton of a three-run triple or inside-the-park grand slam. You know the stat, "Defensive Runs Saved?" That play literally saved three runs.
Williams' emergence has affected the Phillies' trade plans heading into Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline. Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones has been a target of the Phillies', but it sounds like Jones, who has 10-and-5 rights and can veto any trade, would rather stay in Baltimore than join the Phils as a bench piece. It could be posturing by Jones to entice the O's to trade him somewhere he'd play more, or it could be Jones just wanting to stay where he's comfortable rather than join a maybe-contender for two months as a fourth outfielder.
Aside from Jones, let's go through the remaining hitters who fit the profile of what the Phils could use offensively:
OF Curtis Granderson (Blue Jays)
We've mentioned Granderson several times here this month and the fit is still there. He has an OPS over .800 since the first week of June. His numbers against right-handed pitchers — .245/.342/.442 with 14 doubles and 10 homers — are better than league average.
He's a veteran who's been there, done that and has been a positive influence in every clubhouse he's walked into. A portion of fans will always sneer at an intangible like that but you won't find a front office that discounts it.
Granderson is a two-month rental who wouldn't cost much at all. He would be the first bat off the bench on nights Asdrubal Cabrera starts. And he's viable insurance for an injury to any of the Phillies' outfielders. Injuries do occur. Right now, the position player portion of the Phillies' roster is thin after the starters.
INF/OF Derek Dietrich (Marlins)
You've seen plenty of Dietrich over the years. He's played all over the diamond for the Marlins the last six seasons and been above-average offensively the last four.
Dietrich has played first, second, third and both outfield corners. This season, he's spent the majority of time in left field.
Dietrich has pop from the left side and has made a career of hitting righties. He's hit .274/.359/.444 against RHPs the last three seasons, numbers nearly identical to Odubel Herrera's and George Springer's vs. righties over the same span.
He's just the kind of multi-purpose threat who matters in September and October. The question is whether the Phillies feel he's worth trading a little bit of value for. Dietrich, 29, has two years of club control remaining after this season so the Marlins will not be giving him away.
It would take more than it took the Phils to land Cabrera.
1B/OF Jose Martinez (Cardinals)
Martinez seems to have fallen out of favor in St. Louis. When Mike Matheny was fired and Mike Shildt took over, Martinez was benched in the first five games. He's been a defensive liability wherever he's played, and the Cards, who've committed the most errors in the NL, had enough.
Then, with 10 days to go before the trade deadline, he began playing again. Hmmm …
Everything Martinez does, he does wildly. Swings wildly. Runs wildly. He has a big, powerful 6-foot-6 frame and the kind of setup, load and swing you wouldn't exactly teach a youngster.
Yet he's able to stay mostly under control through it all. Martinez has hit .295/.350/.462 this season with 13 homers and 59 RBI. He hasn't gone into a prolonged slump, hitting .274 or better every month. His power, of late, has disappeared along with his playing time.
Mentioning Martinez in here only because the Cards are a likely seller, he's a change-of-scenery candidate and his bat could help a contender. He's under team control for a long time (end of 2022), so it would make sense for St. Louis only if the return is another player with years of control remaining.
INF Yangervis Solarte (Blue Jays)
A switch-hitter with power who can play all four infield positions. Not a shortstop anymore but he's actually played there more this season than Cabrera.
Solarte has averaged 16 homers the last four seasons despite playing just three out of every four games.
He's 30 years old and has a team-friendly contract — club options for $5.5 million and $8 million the next two seasons, either of which can be bought out for $750,000.
His bat has cooled considerably over the last month, though. Solarte's hit .153 with a .189 OBP in July.
This gives you an idea of what is … or really what isn't out there in terms of bats.
Rest of the market is thin
And thin may be an understatement. A quick summary:
• Every outfielder on the Rays, Twins, Royals, White Sox, Angels, Mets, Reds and Padres is either an insignificant upgrade over what the Phillies currently have or a starting-caliber player whose team would prefer to keep him. Just not many fits left.
• Corey Dickerson and Jesse Winker were two other bats who could have moved ahead of July 31 but both are now on the DL.
• There are all-glove infielders available like Freddy Galvis or Jose Iglesias, but that doesn't really fill a need for the Phillies, particularly after the Cabrera acquisition.
• Tigers OF Nick Castellanos is a name that will excite many, but it's going to cost a lot to pry him away from Detroit. He's a below-average defender but he's hit .281 with a .825 OPS, 41 homers, 67 doubles and 14 triples since the start of 2017. Huge right-handed power production. Thing is, he's a homegrown Tiger just entering his prime for a rebuilding organization. He's the kind of guy they'd rather extend, not trade.
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