What would it take to get Carlos Carrasco back in the Phillies organization?
Once among the Phillies top prospects in the summer of 2009, Carlos Carrasco was traded to the Cleveland Indians with Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco.
After sputtering in the big leagues Carrasco has been a late bloomer and developed into one of the best pitchers in baseball. Perhaps he holds that title somewhat quietly, but last year he led baseball with 18 wins and finished fourth in the Cy Young.
The Indians have three outstanding young pitchers: Carrasco, Corey Kluber, and Trevor Bauer. In an effort to add depth and save money the Indians are reportedly willing to move any one of those three pitchers, all of whom are signed through the 2020 season.
Both Carrasco and Kluber are slightly older, both being 32-years-old come opening day. Bauer, once the third-overall pick of the draft, turns 28 in January.
It’s a slight negative for the Phillies that none of those three are left-handed, but all three are upgrades over the slew of players in the back-end of Philadelphia’s current rotation. After losing the James Paxton lottery, the Phillies are down an option this offseason to improve the rotation.
In terms of trade value, Carrasco might be the easiest to acquire Matt Klentak makes a call. Kluber has two Cy Youngs on his resume and Bauer has another year of control.
Cleveland would need to replace one of those arms in their rotation should they make a move. Philadelphia has several young arms who could get pushed out of the rotation this offseason: Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez.
Velasquez is a big question, but his potential is outstanding. Can the Phillies wait for him to develop while they make a postseason run, or does he become a valuable trade chip?
Another area the Indians have to address is their outfield, especially with Michael Brantley being a free agent. He’s among six outfielders the Indians could see leave in free agency, one of which (Lonnie Chisenhall) already has.
Nick Williams could be the odd-man out of the Phillies outfield if they sign Bryce Harper this offseason. Despite hitting 29 home runs and .269 in his first 720 at-bats Williams would be left without an everyday job if the Phillies add an outfielder and cannot move Rhys Hoskins back to first base because of Carlos Santana.
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Odubel Herrera is a player many fans would love to see traded because of his multitude of misplays. However, the reason Cleveland is willing to move a pitcher is to clear salary. While Herrera’s contract is not expensive with about $23 million guaranteed through 2021, plus two club options, it’s more than what Williams is set to make with two more years of team control plus three years of arbitration.
Cleveland isn’t a team that will spend big money, and having a young, controllable outfielder such as Williams is invaluable to them.
Does this two-for-one deal get Philadelphia a legitimate top three for their rotation? I think it could cost a little bit more, but if the Phillies are willing to give Cleveland, a playoff-bound team, two major league players I think the needle moves significantly.
Perhaps a prospect towards the bottom of the top-30 list gets this deal over the finish line.
If the Phillies can acquire any of the Indians’ top three pitchers without giving up a top-five prospect they should do so.