Phillies' 2023 trade looks like even more of a steal after news from the Athletics

Chalk the Phillies' trade for Cristian Pache up as yet another win for the front office.
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Cristian Pache
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Cristian Pache / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies have established a solid track record of making trades that have netted good results for the local nine. Logan O'Hoppe for Brandon Marsh at the 2022 trade deadline? Check. JoJo Romero for utility man Edmundo Sosa? Score. Billy Sullivan for Cristian Pache last spring training? Credit Dave Dombrowski with another victory.

The Oakland Athletics recently cut ties with Sullivan, a former 28th-round pick by the Phillies in the 2017 MLB Draft. Sullivan's release last week came on the heels of a six-game stretch pitching for the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators that saw the 25-year-old give up 13 runs (seven earned) while walking 10 in only 5 1/3 innings of work.

His 11.81 ERA left a lot to be desired, and the Athletics released the right-handed pitcher after two years in the organization.

It's always fun when the Phillies get the better of other teams in trades. The Sullivan-for-Pache deal between the A's and Phillies now looks like a steal, considering Pache is contributing to the Phillies this season as a fourth outfielder. Sullivan is currently a minor league free agent, hoping to latch on with another organization.

It clearly wasn't a franchise-altering deal, but Pache still carries some intriguing value as a former top prospect who still has some room to grow as a major league ball player.

Cristian Pache can reestablish his value with a healthy 2024 season

When the Phillies traded for Pache on March 29 last year, the team was hoping to fill some gaping holes on its roster. Bryce Harper's recovery from Tommy John surgery dealt a major blow to the outfield from the outset of the season. A season-ending knee injury suffered by first baseman Rhys Hoskins would further complicate matters. The Phillies needed help, and fast.

Pache got off to a great start in 2023, hitting .327 with two home runs, seven doubles, and eight RBI, but a torn meniscus and a minor procedure on his elbow caused him to miss significant time. He fell back to earth offensively in limited opportunities late in the season, while the emergence of Johan Rojas as a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder certainly didn't help his cause.

Pache entered spring training this year out of minor league options and found himself in a hotly contested competition with the likes of Jake Cave, David Dahl, and Jordan Luplow for the open fourth outfielder job.

The trade of Cave to the Colorado Rockies at the end of camp opened the door for Pache to fill the role, but for how long? Rojas' noted inconsistencies as a hitter meant the team needed insurance in the event a trip to the minors was needed to get his bat going.

So far, Pache is still trying to put it together at the plate with a .154 batting average, two hits and one RBI in 13 at-bats. However, he recently became a late-innings hero when he came in to pinch run for Kyle Schwarber in a tie game against the Rockies and later drove in the winning run on an RBI single in the 10th inning to give the Phillies a 2-1 victory.

The Phillies got a nice steal when they acquired Pache from the Oakland Athletics last year for a mid-level prospect like Billy Sullivan. Pache has played steady defense when called upon in the outfield and still has enough upside as a hitter that it will be interesting to see what he can do at the plate if he can stay healthy and get regular at-bats for the first time in his MLB career. It's a good problem to have for the Phillies.