The Philadelphia Phillies are not a playoff caliber team this year. They are officially a rebuilding team, which to many fans is long overdue. Rebuilding is a difficult journey to undertake, though, in that it means flooding the roster with young players while oh-so-carefully pruning players whose development goes awry and grafting in new players who can enhance the team going forward.
Early season predictions for the Phillies were not rosy. Many had them at or near the 90-loss mark for the season, and right now they are on track for just that. The Phillies were 42-48 at the All-Star break and have since fallen to 48-59 as of late-July. The team needs an infusion of hits, scoring an average of 3.05 runs since the break while surrendering 4.05 runs per game. They’re final hope for the season seemed to rest with the trade deadline.
The 2016 Major League Baseball no-waiver trade deadline came and went on August 1st, and ne’er a peep from the Phillies regarding a trade. Particularly surprising, is the fact that the team did not trade starter Jeremy Hellickson, an 8-7 starter with an ERA of just 3.70. For a playoff-bound team, Hellickson would have made a fine addition to the starting rotation. For the Phillies, moving the starter before his contract expired would have meant getting something for nothing.
For a team that is 29th out of 30 in batting average, 18th out of 30 in pitching earned run average (ERA), and 24th out of 30 in fielding percentage, something would be nice. But in the final days leading up to the deadline, rumors of moving Hellickson as well as other players seemed to vanish like an early morning fog on a summer day.
Currently, it seems the team is set up to lose a valuable starter with no compensation… Or are they? Recently, the Phillies inked several 2016 MLB draftees; top-drafted outfielder Mickey Moniak, pitcher Kevin Gowdy, shortstop Cole Stobbe, pitcher JoJo Romero and outfielder Josh Stephen. Converting Hellickson for a draft pick or prospect to bolster this talented group would have been the ideal situation. But the team is not without a plan B.
The Phillies may extend Hellickson a qualifying offer in the range of $16-17 million this offseason. Should Hellickson reject the offer and take his chances in free agency, the Phillies would be compensated by a draft pick between the first and second rounds next summer. If Hellickson accepts the offer, the team would simply be on the hook for his salary for a year. Meanwhile, interest for Hellickson in a light free agency market for accomplished pitching should work in the Phillies’ favor.
Dealing just to make a trade is often unwise. While the Phillies entertained offers, no trade met their asking price. In the end, the Phillies may have played their hand in the best way.
To hear more from Bret Stuter, follow him on Twitter @milroyigglesfan.
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