Phillies rumors: Could team pursue reunion with Jake Diekman?
Jake Diekman was the forgotten second piece in the 2015 Cole Hamels trade, but could he return to the Phillies this summer?
The Phillies need to add to their pitching staff to contend this season. As a team, they rank 28th in Fangraphs pitching wins above replacement. The bullpen has been below replacement-level this season, so it needs all the help it can get.
There are plenty of relievers who could be worth adding this year, as is the case most seasons at the trade deadline. One who could wind up being added is a familiar name to most fans.
Eno Sarris of the Athletic [subscription required] detailed what small moves teams on the playoff bubble could make to contend. He figured the best player for Philadelphia to add was a left-handed reliever, and the player he suggested was none other than former Phillie Jake Diekman.
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Diekman started his career with the Phillies, making his major-league debut in Philadelphia in 2012 at 25 years old. In 191 games over four seasons with the team, he had a 3.84 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, and 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Diekman’s tenure with the club ended in 2015 when he went to the Rangers alongside Cole Hamels in the trade that catalyzed Philadelphia’s rebuild.
Since then, he pitched well with the Rangers but has started to drop off in the last year.
Now with the Royals, Diekman has a 5.06 ERA, 1.313 WHIP, and 5.3 walks per nine innings in 37 games for Kansas City. While those numbers aren’t great, Sarris argues that will make acquiring Diekman that much easier.
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Some underlying factors suggest adding Diekman could be quite worthwhile. His 3.81 fielding-independent pitching and 3.66 skill-interactive ERA both indicate his ERA is higher than it should be. Diekman’s fastball velocity is its highest since 2016. His 33.1% strikeout rate is seventh-best among qualified left-handed relievers.
Looking beyond this year, Diekman has a $5.75 million mutual option for the 2020 season with a $500,000 buyout. He will turn 33 in January, but with how cheap his option or buyout would be, he could be a serviceable lefty to pair with Adam Morgan in the bullpen next year as well.
Sarris offers minor-league left-handed reliever Kyle Dohy as a potential piece to send to the Royals in exchange for Diekman. Dohy was Philadelphia’s 16th-round pick in 2017 and has recently made waves as a relief prospect with electric stuff but no command over it. He is still miles away from being an impact major-leaguer, so there would be little harm in trading him.
While trading for Diekman is not the most significant move to be made at the trade deadline, he is a familiar face that could turn out to make a substantial impact.