Phillies Could Be League’s Biggest Traders At The Deadline

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Sep 29, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Howie Kendrick (47) is silhouetted before the game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Howie Kendrick (47) is silhouetted before the game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Philadelphia Phillies have made quite a few moves this offseason and there’s somewhat of a recurring theme to all of them: Mid-season trade candidates.

So far this winter the Phillies have acquired Pat Neshek, Howie Kendrick, Joaquin Benoit and Clay Buchholz. All four are only under contract for this season and most are very reasonably priced for what they are capable of. Inexpensive impending free agent talent is the definition of “trade candidate.”

The Phillies are spending the winter setting themselves up as huge sellers at the deadline. There may not be another team in the majors with more potential trade candidates right now then the Phillies will potentially have.

And if you add in some of the depth they’ve accumulated in the minors they could be capable of swinging a huge deal come July 31st, the date of Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline.

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If a contender can swing a trade that brings them immediate help to their championship-hopeful major league roster while also acquiring a mid-level prospect, for instance an Andrew Knapp, it’s a lot easier for both the organization and the fan-base to swallow.  The fact they just gave up one of their top ten hopefuls or a handful of good percentage “maybe’s” is a lot less damaging when you’ve gotten a prospect back.

General manager Matt Klentak has already shown the rest of the league he means business. In refusing to settle for less than he expected last year when he was taking offers on Jeremy Hellickson, Klentak has earned the reputation of an executive who is willing to be patient.

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In 2014 when the Phillies were playing for nothing, Ruben Amaro Jr. did the same thing when he refused to trade superstar pitcher Cole Hamels. Amaro took a ton of heat from both the media and fans for his reluctance to deal the ace in a lost season.  A year later, critics were abruptly silenced when the then-GM pulled off a blockbuster deal with the Rangers.  That trade netted the organization three of the Top 50 prospects in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus.  That deal also included Jerad Eickhoff, a surprise player who has pitched to a virtually identical ERA to Hamels since the trade.

Of course if Klentak doesn’t get his price he can opt to not make a trade and consider a qualifying offer to the players that may have earned it. With the changes to the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement in place next year teams will be much more willing to offer deals to QO’ed players and the Phillies can collect on the requisite draft pick compensation.

Next: Clay Buchholz's Positive Adjustments

Klentak’s approach at this stage of the “rebuild” is nothing short of genius. He’s managed a “best of both worlds” scenario for the organization and, like the Hellickson situation last year, given the team several different “win/win” opportunities. He’s brought in some veterans for his young team to look up to, and at the same time added players that can help this year while also setting the team up to be the single biggest player at this year’s trade deadline.

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