The Phillies might have to get creative at the MLB trade deadline
Through their first 17 games, Phillies fans have suffered through one of the worst bullpens in baseball history. Fangraphs has the bullpen’s ERA at 8.77, more than two points higher than the second-worst Giants team.
With a limited number of games before the MLB trade deadline, teams like the Phillies who are built to win have to get creative. This could drive the team towards a trade with the last place Boston Red Sox to sure up the bullpen.
Boston’s bullpen isn’t faring much better with a 5.18 ERA, the eighth-worst in baseball. They do have a couple of players, both young players and veterans, who’s season stand out among the wreck that resembles Philadelphia’s bullpen.
Veteran Heath Hembree, who has spent all but nine games of his eight year career with Boston, has statistically been the Red Sox’ best reliever this year. In his first nine games he has a 2.08 ERA with eight strikeouts in 8.2 innings and only five hits allowed.
Hembree is normally a flyball pitcher with a career 44.9 percent flyball percentage, but if he can survive playing in Fenway and Yankee Stadium, he’ll be fine at Citizens Bank Park.
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He’s primarily pitched in the six and seventh innings, which is where the Phillies bullpen needs the most help. Most importantly, for both sides, he’s signed through the 2021 season. That increases his trade value for Boston and could force the Phillies to give up a better prospect if he is on their trade radar.
Hembree is no stranger to big time trades, coming to Boston from San Francisco in the 2014 Jake Peavy trade.
He’s also not a stranger to the postseason, pitching in four games during the 2018 playoffs, including game three of the World Series. In 4.2 innings he hasn’t allowed an earned run.
Another player the Phillies might target is Phillips Valdéz, who has bounced around baseball before having tremendous success early on in Boston. After playing in five organizations since 2010 and only having a couple of big league games under his belt, Valdéz has had a strong start to his career.
He only pitched 11 games last year in Texas with a 3.94 ERA, but in his first eight games this year he has a 0.68 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 13.1 innings and a 689 ERA+, though granted it’s a small sample size.
Bostom will likely want to hold onto Valdéz considering he has low big league miles on his arm at 28, but a flash in the pan this year could draw trade interest.
We reached out to our sister site BoSox Injection to see what they thought about the last place Red Sox unloading some bullpen pieces, whether it be the aforementioned names or some other guys. Here’s some of what they had to say
"I think Workman could be available for the right price. Can’t imagine anyone else having enough value to be worth tradingWe still have a year of control left on Hembree for relatively cheap. Wouldn’t trade him for the sake of trading him. But if they are offered a prospect they like, he could be tradedEven if it’s fair value, can’t see Sox trading someone from an already thin bullpen who can help next year for your 20th best prospectWe expect to contend by next year or 2022 when Sale and Rodriguez are healthy and we have money to spend"
Some valid points from someone who knows the Red Sox best. This trade deadline will be extremely unpredictable considering how many teams will be in the race and have unknowns across their rosters. If Boston continues to fall down the standings with their best pitcher coming off a major injury, it might behoove them to pick up a prospect or two for a veteran reliever that won’t be around when they’re ready to win again.