The Phillies need to make a move for a starting pitcher, and the Indians have plenty
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak will be scouring the trade market for starting pitching this offseason after running short on arms in 2017. Cleveland is a team with a lot of major league ready arms that the Phillies could dip their toes into.
With Carlos Santana available in free agency the Indians need to solidify the first base position. They’re a franchise that typically doesn’t carry a large payroll, but jumped over the luxury tax last year with $140 million in payroll. This year they only have $90 million on the books so there’s some room for adding a player like Santana back into the mix.
Cleveland also has outfielder Jay Bruce and relievers Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith sitting on the open market. They’d like to keep at least one of those relievers while potentially staying in the market for an outfield bat.
If the Indians want to save money while adding a right-handed power bat Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph could be their guy. Still, just 26-years-old Joseph has 43 home runs in his first two major league seasons while also managing 200 hits in 249 games. He’s still under team control through the 2019 season before hitting three years of arbitration and free agency after the 2022 season when he’s in his early 30’s.
Cleveland can offer up one of several starting pitchers in exchange for Joseph, who could also serve time as a designated hitter if Edwin Encarnacion needs time off. Josh Tomlin is owed just $3 million in the final year of his contract, but his deal is financially friendly enough for the Indians.
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Danny Salazar is entering his second year of arbitration at the age of 27 and could earn around $4 million next season. Salazar made 19 starts and four relief appearances last year with a 4.28 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 103 innings.
It’s unlikely Trevor Bauer, the third-overall pick in 2011 by Arizona, comes over solely in exchange for Joseph. If a prospect were included the Phillies might be able to swing a deal for the 26-year-old starter. Dylan Cozens and Tommy Joseph might be a hair too pricey, but that may be what it takes to get someone with immense potential such as Bauer.
Cleveland’s 21st ranked prospect Ryan Merrit has experienced above average success in four major league starts and one relief appearance. With a 1.74 ERA in 20.2 innings for Cleveland the 25-year-old LEFTY might be the most realistic return for Joseph.
If Klentak can swing a trade involving Joseph for a starting pitcher it would be the best-case scenario for Philadelphia. Cleveland needs a cheap option at first base as well as a power hitting righty. Joseph gives them 20+ home runs in exchange for either a mediocre veteran arm or a young emerging starter.