The Phillies have made it verbally clear this offseason that they plan to rebuild. Some of their actions have not shown that intention though. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has been criticized often for asking for too high prices for his players.
They signed Chad Billingsley, a 36 year old pitcher who has struggled with many injuries. He will serve as depth for their rotation, especially because there might be some trades that will affect their rotation.
The Phillies traded longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers for Zach Eflin and Tom Windle. Rollins hit .243/.323/.394 last year with solid defense at shortstop. The Phillies will miss their all-time franchise hits leader, but it was a necessary trade to move into rebuilding mode. Zach Eflin is a right handed pitcher who pitched to a 3.80 ERA in single-A last year. He is 20 years old and projects to be a middle of the rotation pitcher. The Phillies also received left handed pitcher Tom Windle who is 22 years old and had a 4.26 ERA in Single-A last year. He projects to be a number 2 or 3 starter if he can develop his command and if not, he could develop into a closer.
They traded Marlon Byrd to the Reds for right handed pitcher Ben Lively who is 22 years old and had a 3.04 ERA in Single-A and Double-A combined. He is expected to remain a starter likely in Double-A and has a ceiling of a mid-rotation starter with a floor of a back-end starter. The Phillies could give him a shot late in 2015.
The Phillies need to dump Ryan Howard. This is the ultimate symbol for their offseason. Ruben Amaro Jr. has told Howard and the media that the team would be better off without Howard. He only hit .223 with an on-base percentage of .310. He hit 23 homeruns, though his slugging percentage was only .380. Though they will have to eat a big chunk of money, the Phillies should trade Howard to anyone who will take him.
Then, there is Cole Hamels. He is the most valuable piece that the Phillies have. They understandably have a high asking price on him. They have reportedly insisted on Blake Swihart from the Red Sox who is widely considered a top 25 prospect. They would likely want more prospects in return. Obviously, plenty of other teams could use Hamels and I’d expect a team to get desperate in July and give up top prospects for him.
The Phillies have also been open to trading Cliff Lee. He had an elbow injury that held him to 81.1 innings in 2014. Again, the Phillies will likely have to eat some cash for a team to deal for Lee as he has 25 million owed to him in 2015 and a 27.5 million vesting option if he pitches 200 innings in 2015. The option has a 12.5 million buyout. Still, someone who has a career 3.52 ERA will have suitors who will want him in a trade.
Carlos Ruiz could provide a contending team a veteran catcher with solid numbers. He hit .252/.347/.370 with solid defense including throwing out 27% of base stealers. He wouldn’t bring much back in terms of prospects as he is 36 years old and locked up for 8.5 million each of the next two years. The Phillies could acquire a lottery ticket prospect for him and some salary relief. Even though the Diamondbacks have insisted they are not going to acquire a catcher, I would expect the Diamondbacks and the White Sox to be interested.
Jonathan Papelbon’s name has been swirling in trade rumors. There was a rumor that he might get traded to the Brewers but it’s still unclear if that will happen. He had a 2.04 ERA along with 39 saves in 2014. Still, there is no reason to have a 34 year old closer being paid 13 million a year on a rebuilding team. The Phillies have a more than adequate replacement for Papelbon in Ken Giles who had a 1.18 ERA in 2014. The Phillies could possibly get a decent prospect back for Papelbon depending on how much money they are willing to eat. The Blue Jays and Brewers are interested teams.
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Jake Wesley is now the only writer for MLB_NL_AL.com all of these articles are ether based on facts and pieces of his opinion.