It's been suggested that the Philadelphia Phillies should be looking for another lockdown bullpen arm this offseason, but at what cost?
A recent piece by Brandon Scott of Bleacher Report that suggests trade proposals for the top rumored players on the market projects the Cleveland Guardians getting an outstanding haul from the Phillies in return for closer Emmanuel Clase.
Clase, 25, has been the center of quite a few trade rumors this offseason. Despite coming off a down year, by his standards, the closer has been excellent for the Guardians over the past three seasons. Clase has pitched in 223 games, leading the league in games pitched once, as well as games finished and saves in two different seasons.
The two-time All-Star owns a 2.00 ERA over the course of his career, with two seasons vastly below that mark (1.29, 1.36). In 2023, Clase collected a 3.22 ERA and a 1.156 WHIP but still led all of baseball with 44 saves on a Guardians team that only won 76 the whole year.
Bleacher Report projects robbery of Phillies' farm system in deal
The trade proposal highlights three Phillies players: Aidan Miller, Justin Crawford, and Johan Rojas. MLB Pipeline ranked each of these players within the top five Phillies prospects within the last two years. While Clase is a tantalizing talent, with what has happened in the market and the Phillies philosophy under Dave Dombrowski, this proposal makes zero sense.
Johan Rojas, the Phillies' fourth-ranked prospect in 2022, made a major impact last season and into the postseason. His incredible baseball instincts in the outfield and defensive range make him a weapon in his own right. With what has been shown of his offseason work, adding muscle and working with countless coaches and players, his bat could develop well going into his sophomore season.
Coming from a baseball bloodline, with his father Carl Crawford in MLB for 15 seasons, he definitely has a support system and knowledge behind him. Crawford's elite hit and speed tools increase his floor and overall value while projecting him to be an MLB starter in a few seasons.
Aidan Miller is this offseason's wonder boy, impressing almost everyone who has watched him on the diamond. In 2023, Miller was ranked as the Phillies' No. 4 prospect but will most likely see a jump up as he is ranked No. 61 on Pipeline's Top 100 Prospect list going into the 2024 season.
The 19-year-old, who was taken in the first round of the MLB Draft last year, has tremendous upside and even earned some promising words from Phillies assistant general manager in charge of player development Preston Mattingly.
Dave Dombrowski has put an emphasis on growing the farm
The proposed package makes little to no sense for the Phillies. While Clase has several years of team control remaining and has been one of the best closers in the league over the past few seasons, to mortgage the last two first-round selections and a top international player within the system would be a reach of all reaches.
Dombrowski has made it clear that it's not an "all-in" scenario for the Phillies. He wants to build a long-lasting winner instead of the usual three- to four-year contender. Instead, Dombrowski is looking towards continued success while making the necessary moves when they arise.
Earlier in the offseason, Dombrowski said that some moves were still left to make, but they wouldn't press. They intend to build a winner while doing good business and developing the organization — not mortgage the future for a top-level arm out of the bullpen.
While a trade for a back-end reliever could still be in the cards, it would never be at this price. After the news of former Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes being sent to the Orioles for their No. 5 and No. 15 ranked prospects from 2022, the load may lighten a little for Clase. While he has a few more years of control, Burnes has increased value because he is a starting pitcher and one of the best.
With a veteran-laden team like the Phillies, youth can be critical to fill holes and replace some of the long-time vets in the near future. Players like Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos are closing in on the end of their contracts/team control. The trade package proposed for Clase includes several players who could fill those spots in just a few seasons.