Phillies Close Deal: Ken Giles to Astros


The Philadelphia Phillies have traded closer Ken Giles to the Houston Astros.

The first big trade under general manager Matt Klentak has been finalized, with the Phils sending their flamethrowing young closer to the rising Astros in exchange for a four-player package led by highly considered pitcher Vince Velasquez.

As profiled here earlier this evening, Velasquez is a 23-year old Tommy John surgery survivor who made his MLB debut this past season. His first seven appearances were all starts before he was switched to a bullpen role for his final dozen appearances with Houston. He will return to the rotation with the Phillies for now.

Also reportedly coming to Philly in the deal are pitcher Brett Oberholtzer, outfielder Derek Fisher, and a fourth player who reports now say is control artist SP Thomas Eshelman.

Oberholtzer is a 26-year old who will come to spring training in the mix for a back-end spot in the rotation, but who could end up either as rotation depth with AAA Lehigh Valley, or as a righty out of the Phillies bullpen. He has 45 big league appearances over parts of the last three seasons with Houston, all but three of those as a starter.

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A native of New Castle, Delaware, Oberholtzer was the Atlanta Braves 8th round pick in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft out of Seminole Community College in Florida. His fastball averages out to around the 90-mph mark, and he also utilizes a curveball and changeup. Last season, Oberholtzer began to feature a cutter as well. He profiles as a back-end rotation guy or a bullpen piece.

Fisher was Houston’s pick at #37 overall in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Virginia. He is a lefty swinger, righty fielding “toolsy” player who profiles best as a left fielder.

A 22-year old from Rexmont, Pennsylvania, about 90 miles west of Philly, Fisher played his high school ball at Cedar Crest in Lebanon, PA. He had a breakout season this year, banging 22 homers across two levels of the Houston minors. He also recorded 87 RBI, scored 106 runs, and stole 31 bases.

It is likely that Fisher will start the 2016 season at AA Reading, and anything  close to a repeat of his 2015 performance will put him on the fast track to Philadelphia.

Per Brett Coomer with the Houston Chronicle, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow had this to say in relation to possibly adding Giles, before the deal was formally announced: “There’s been a lot of good arms, with good stuff that are good in the seventh and the eighth inning and have struggles in the ninth…Having done it to me has value that it’s more likely to be replicable in the future.”

From a Phillies perspective, Giles is a closer on a team that isn’t at the overall developmental point where that is a necessity, but is instead a luxury. Klentak just turned that luxury into four pieces, hoping that at least one can become a longterm rotation member, and one or two of the others can become longterm contributors on some level.