Phillies losing Ken Giles trade after cutting ties with Mark Appel
By John Town
Trading Ken Giles was one of the first big moves Matt Klentak made as general manager of the Phillies, but so far the trade hasn’t gone well.
It took until 2015 for the Phillies to admit they needed to rebuild, after several losing seasons in years prior. Almost every one of the team’s tangible assets as former general manager Ruben Amaro and current GM Matt Klentak looked to stock the farm system and clear payroll.
One of the first moves Klentak made was trading 25-year-old reliever Ken Giles to the Astros. Giles had emerged as a strong reliever with a powerful fastball and wipeout slider. After Jonathan Papelbon was traded at the deadline, Giles became the new closer and recorded 15 saves.
In exchange for Giles and shortstop prospect Jonathan Arauz, Philadelphia received five pitchers: Vince Velasquez, Mark Appel, Thomas Eshelman, Harold Arauz, and Brett Oberholtzer. At first, they were going to receive outfielder Derek Fisher instead of Appel and Arauz, but instead wound up with the latter two.
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Early on, the trade looked like a steal for Klentak. Velasquez threw a complete-game, 16-strikeout shutout in his Citizen’s Bank Park debut while hopes were high for Appel as a prospect. Meanwhile, Giles struggled early in 2016 with an ERA at 9.00 at the end of April.
Two years later, the trade looks like a complete loss for the Philadelphia. Oberholtzer barely lasted a few months with the team before being released.
Arauz had a good statistical season in 2017, but he doesn’t garner much hype as a prospect.
After his 16-strikeout start, Velasquez has struggled to show that potential again. He racks up high pitch counts early on in starts and can struggle with command. Injuries kept him off the field much of the 2017 season, and his future as a starter is certainly in doubt.
Perhaps the biggest misfire in the trade was acquiring Appel, the 2013 No. 1 overall pick that did little after coming to the Phils. He struggled early in 2016 before losing most of the year due to injury. Appel then came back this year and did even worse before winding up on the disabled list again. His command was non-existent and it was clear he could not compete.
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To clear room on the 40-man roster, the team designated Appel for assignment. It became apparent that Appel no longer had much potential in the major-leagues, and with other, better pitching prospects that needed protection, the front office clearly viewed Appel as expendable.
With Appel now gone from the team, that leaves just three players from the original Giles trade with the team. Eshelman may be the saving grace in the trade as he could be a No. 3 or 4 starter in the future. Otherwise, Velasquez may not be any more than a reliever while Arauz doesn’t have much ceiling beyond a Quad-A starter.
Meanwhile, Giles bounced back in 2017, recording 34 saves, posting a 2.30 ERA, and racking up 1.9 wins above replacement. He was one of the key cogs to the team’s success in the regular season, but he struggled in the postseason.
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Still, the Phillies have seen few tangible results from the Giles trade. The odds that they get some major-league production out of the deal look slimmer every season, while the Astros got plenty this year. This could all change in the future, but as of now it appears Philadelphia lost the Giles trade.