Why it’s impossible to predict the Phillies’ trade deadline behavior
Will the Philadelphia Phillies be buyers or sellers at the 2022 MLB trade deadline?
The 2022 season isn’t even two months old, but I’ve already spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what the Philadelphia Phillies will do at the trade deadline.
That’s what happens when a club constructs a team that should be great but is only doing okay.
Yes, the Phillies are in second place in the National League East. No, they do not have a winning record.
Yes, the Phillies spent more than ever before – exceeding the luxury tax threshold for the first time in franchise history – to build a better roster. No, it has not lifted them out of mediocrity.
There are, of course, unforeseen circumstances that have impacted play, including Bryce Harper and Mickey Moniak‘s injuries, but on the whole, this is a team that should be winning more, and there really isn’t a great excuse for why they aren’t.
The Phillies rank fifth in MLB in batting average and slugging percentage, sixth in home runs, seventh in hits, eighth in OPS, and tenth in runs scored. They’ve stolen the fifth-most bases (and only the Chicago White Sox have been better at not getting caught) and are above league average in RBI and on-base percentage. The pitching staff’s ERA is only slightly worse than league average, but they rank seventh in strikeouts and only four teams have given up fewer home runs.
Once again, the Phillies are a puzzle. That’s why it’s easy to make the argument for them to go either way. Manager Joe Girardi says his team is “fighting like crazy,” but there are plenty of nights when that hasn’t looked like the case, and the losing record reflects that. If the losing continues, they could be sellers; the roster is full of players hitting free agency after this season who would make excellent short-term rentals for contending teams, and the Phillies would get something (money, prospects) in return.
They could also absolutely be buyers. They need help defensively in the outfield, and another bullpen arm never hurts.
Unless they collapse in the next month or so, it’s more likely that the Phillies are buyers than sellers. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski convinced ownership to finally go all-in, and that carries some heavy make-or-break energy; it’s hard to see him giving up on the season without a fight.
But would any midseason acquisition move the needle enough for this team? Signing Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos and completely rebuilding the bullpen should have been enough. Having the reigning NL MVP, even if he can’t play the field, is already a fearsome advantage. At some point, do the Phillies accept that no matter what they do or who they add at the roster level, something isn’t right with the organization?
As it stands, the Phillies are 19-22 and tied with the Atlanta Braves for second place in their division. Both teams are eight games behind the New York Mets, even though Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer are both hurt. You can pinpoint a few needs (outfield, bullpen), but at the same time, on paper, this team should be better than it is.
That’s what makes their future so perplexing.