RHP Vincent Velasquez
Most rumors surrounding the Phillies this offseason revolve around pitcher Vincent Velasquez. Talks for a potential Velasquez trade with the Rangers at this year’s deadline got “pretty deep” according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly.
Since the club acquired Velasquez from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade, he flashed serious potential. He wowed fans and club personnel alike. Manager Pete Mackanin jokingly said “It looks like we made a pretty good trade” and catcher Cameron Rupp said “He [Velasquez] was blowing everybody’s doors off with” his fastball according to Stephen Gross of the Morning Call.
Velasquez finished the year with 10.44 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest for a Phillies starting pitcher with 130 or more innings since Curt Schilling in 1997. Velasquez made it evident that he could strike batters out.
The problem with Velasquez this season was his inefficiency on the mound. He made it beyond the sixth inning just three times in his 24 starts this season.
The reason why the Phillies might wind up trading Velasquez is simple; there are few pitchers in the league who can dominate hitters like Velasquez can. The starting pitching free agency market is markedly slim this offseason. Velasquez will also be relatively cheap for years to come. He isn’t arbitration eligible until the 2019 season and won’t be a free agent until after the 2021 season.
A trade for Velasquez would have to net the Phillies a legitimate haul, including one or two higher-level prospects. A team like the Rangers has the farm system to afford Velasquez; it just boils down to whether or not the two clubs could reach an agreement.