Two former Phillies had a big night last night.
— Joe Lemire (@SI_JoeLemire) August 28, 2013
When the Phillies traded Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino at the trade deadline last year, the moves made a lot of sense. They were out of the playoff picture and, with Victorino a pending free agent and Pence set to earn a hefty raise in salary arbitration, it made sense for the Phils to trade the two veteran players and get some young talent in return.
But now, after watching Delmon Young and the rest of the mess that has populated right and center field for much of this year, the question must be asked.
Did the Phillies make a mistake in trading Pence and Victorino?
Obviously, the trade for Ben Revere wasn’t a bad alternative to losing Victorino. In exchange for not re-signing Shane to the three-year, $39 million deal he got with the Red Sox and paying him $13 million a year through his 34th birthday, the Phils traded for a player that is just 25 years old and was hitting .305 with a .338 on-base percentage in 336 PAs before he was sidelined for the rest of the year after fouling a ball off his foot.
However, when you put the two players side-by-side, and consider the cost, having Victorino in center field would have made the Phils better in 2013.
Victorino is currently 9th in the American League in WAR, behind teammate Dustin Pedroia and ahead of Joe Mauer. Simply put, he’s been one of the best center fielders in the game and would have been a massive upgrade over Revere, as promising as Revere has been.
Of course, there are still two more years left on Shane’s contract at $13 million a year, so the Red Sox may yet regret their multi-year offer to him. And to be honest, when Boston signed Victorino to that deal, everyone thought they were crazy. People would have been apoplectic if the Phillies had given Shane that kind of deal so, of course, hindsight is 20-20.
As for the right field situation, that has been a disaster for the Phils, at least until the recent call-up of Darin Ruf. The following numbers include statistics from the six Phillies who have played games in right field for the Phils this year (Delmon Young, Ruf, John Mayberry, Laynce Nix, Steve Susdorf and Ezequiel Carrera.
No matter what you might think of Pence (and yes, his plate discipline and scatter-shot outfield defense leave a lot to be desired) there is no way around the fact the Phillies would have been much better off agreeing to an arbitration number of $13.8 million with him, rather than go into 2013 with absolutely no plan for right field whatsoever.
Let’s also not forget Pence’s ability to speechify and Victorino’s stellar tweeting skills. You don’t factor THOSE into WAR, you know.
Making matters worse, the players the Phillies received in return for Pence and Victorino don’t look to be all that promising.
Nate Schierholtz, catcher Tommy Joseph and pitcher Seth Rosin came to the Phils for Pence, while the Phillies received Ethan Martin and reliever Josh Lindblom, who they then turned around as part of a package to get Michael Young, for Victorino.
Joseph looked like a good prospect until concussions caused him to miss virtually all of this year. It’s now likely he won’t even be a catcher anymore, thanks to those concussion issues. Schierholtz was foolishly non-tendered by the Phillies and is having a spectacular year with the Chicago Cubs. And Rosin has a 4.33 ERA in 26 games (23 starts) with AA Reading, striking out 6.8 batters per nine, while walking 2.5 per nine.
The only prospect that just may pan out is Martin, who appears to have the makings of a dominant late-inning reliever. The Phils are still trying him out as a starter, but all indications are his future lies in the ‘pen.
But imagine what the Phillies might have done this year with 8.2 WAR from Victorino and Pence, at the reasonable cost of $26.8 million this year. Might the Phils still be wild card contenders?
It’s always easy to look back and say someone made a mistake. At the time of these deals, it sure seemed like the right thing to do.
Now, not so much.