Phillies President of Baseball Ops Dave Dombrowski wishes his players were all vaccinated.
The Philadelphia Phillies have a lot of roadblocks ahead of them before the deadline: limited prospects in the farm system to use as trade chips, hesitance to go over the luxury tax threshold for the first time in franchise history, and stiff competition from other teams equally, if not more desperate for midseason upgrades.
To add to the list, there’s also the vaccination issue.
The Phillies have one of the worst vaccination records of any MLB team, not even close to the 85% threshold that would allow them to relax restrictions. The team confirmed earlier this week that half of the current roster has refused to get vaccinated.
Recently, this issue has reared its ugly head, as Alec Bohm and Aaron Nola tested positive and were placed on the COVID-19 Restricted List. Nola returned for his start on Tuesday against the Yankees, and continued his season of being largely disappointing.
That same day, Tuesday, pitchers Bailey Falter and J.D. Hammer were placed on the COVID IL as well.
Speaking to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark this week, Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski kept it civil, but said a lot about how he and the front office feel about the team’s vaccination status:
"“We’ve encouraged the players to be vaccinated. We’ve done that from the beginning of the season, really from spring training… and have continued to do so.Do I wish all players were vaccinated? Yes. I’m vaccinated.”– Dave Dombrowski"
In early June, ESPN reported that two-thirds of MLB’s thirty teams reached the set benchmark. By doing so, these teams are able to go mask-less in the dugouts and lessen their restrictions, not to mention the peace of mind of knowing you’re considerably safer.
While Dombrowski maintains that a player’s vaccination status will not impact whether or not the team trades them or trades for them, it’s pretty hard to believe. The franchise is visibly frustrated with the players’ refusal to get the vaccine, especially considering the events they’ve hosted and attended in the Philadelphia area offering free vaccines. Heck, even the Phillie Phanatic went to the Elmwood Zoo and got the shot.
Trading for a player who has refused to get vaccinated might upgrade the Phillies’ game, but they could be yet another potential problem down the road. That’s unappealing for a team that is currently dealing with an outbreak. Likewise goes for trying to unload any of the current players on the roster who remain unvaccinated; many teams won’t want to risk their playoff chances or the health of their players.
Right before the All-Star break, manager Joe Girardi expressed excitement for the time off, but not for the usual reasons of rest and relaxation:
"“I knew I didn’t have to worry about COVID for three or four days, right? It was nice. But just when you think you get your team on a roll, it seems like something pops up and you’ve got to deal with it.”– Joe Girardi"
Ultimately, as Dave Dombrowski said, it is a personal choice to get the vaccine or not. But of course, every personal choice has consequences, and almost every choice you make in life impacts someone other than yourself.
How much will it impact the Phillies leading up to the trade deadline – and as they make a push to play ball in October for the first time since 2011 – remains to be seen.