Phillies: Vince Velasquez could be 1st Dave Dombrowski trade
By Matt Rappa
Vince Velasquez could be the first Phillies player who Dave Dombrowski trades.
As new Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said himself during his introductory press conference on Friday, he will not have a lot of sleep over the next couple of weeks.
“I’ve done this before. There’s a lot to be done,” said Dombrowski, who joins the Phillies front office midway through the offseason. “You’re walking into the middle of it in December, when a lot of things are already taking place. You have to get up to par very quickly.”
His first move could be trading right-handed pitcher Vince Velasquez. Prior to the Phillies tendering a contract to the arbitration-eligible Velasquez earlier this offseason, the Phillies reportedly drew “numerous trade inquiries” on him, according to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, who writes “they could have acted on that interest but opted for more time to consider Velasquez’s future fit.”
The Phillies and Velasquez have until January 15 to agree on a contract for the 2021 season — otherwise, both sides with head to an arbitration hearing in February, where he would be projected to earn between $3.8 million and $4.8 million.
Dombrowski could also trade Velasquez prior, and avoid leaving what the Phillies will owe the right-hander in the hands of arbitrators. Doing so would mean the two-time World Series champion executive deems there is no future fit for Velasquez on the Phillies roster, even under new pitching coach Caleb Cotham.
One of the first trades made by their former general manager, Matt Klentak, was acquiring Velasquez five years ago as part of the trade that sent closer Ken Giles to the Houston Astros. Of the five players the Phillies landed in the deal, the 28-year-old Velasquez remains the only player left in the organization.
Spanning 112 appearances, 99 starts, and 501 innings in red pinstripes across the 2016-20 seasons, Velasquez has gone 27-34 with a 4.76 ERA, 1.387 WHIP, and 557-198 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. This past season, specifically, the Montclair, California native went 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA, 1.559 WHIP, and 46-17 strikeouts-to-walks ratio through nine appearances and seven starts.
On Friday, Dombrowski noted that the Phillies have three good starting pitchers at the top of the rotation — in reference to Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin. He later praised fellow starting pitcher Spencer Howard as one of the team’s most promising young players, and said the club needs to be aggressive this offseason in finding relievers to improve their bullpen.
Velasquez has served as both a starter and reliever for the Phillies in recent seasons, and at no point during the near one-hour press conference was his name brought up.
Perhaps, a change of scenery is best for both the Phillies and Velasquez.