Phillies linked to A's slugger, 'keeping a close eye on' trade deadline target

The Phillies are looking to upgrade their outfield bats, and one MLB insider has connected them to a slugging A's outfielder.
The Philadelphia Phillies have been linked to keeping a close eye on Oakland Athletics outfielder Brent Rooker
The Philadelphia Phillies have been linked to keeping a close eye on Oakland Athletics outfielder Brent Rooker / Norm Hall/GettyImages

As the MLB trade deadline draws near, many contending teams around the league will be looking to make additions ahead of the final months of the season. The Philadelphia Phillies currently sit atop the National League East, however, there is room for improvement as the deadline looms.

Many teams look to add pitching depth, and that's something that the Phillies could look to do, but one of the club's biggest deficiencies so far has been outfield production at the plate — particularly against left-handed pitching. The club has been tied to multiple potential trade candidates and it would not be surprising to see Dave Dombrowski and company finalize a deal prior to the deadline.

Phillies linked to A's slugger, 'keeping a close eye on' trade deadline target

With Jon Heyman recently casting doubt on the Phillies landing a superstar outfielder like Luis Robert Jr., the club may shift their attention to less expensive options come the end of July. One player the Phillies are said to be keeping tabs on is Oakland A's outfielder/designated hitter Brent Rooker.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today indicated that the club has been watching Rooker. Nightengale points out that the Phillies' left fielders rank 26th in Major League Baseball in OPS. This is an area in which adding a power bat like the A's slugger could be beneficial to the team's offensive production.

As a relatively late bloomer, Rooker played parts of 2020 through 2022 in Minnesota, San Diego and Kansas City before he found his place with the A's last season. In his first season as a full-time player, Rooker posted an .817 OPS with 30 home runs and 69 RBI in 526 plate appearances.

In 77 games thus far in the 2024 campaign, the right-handed power hitter has an .891 OPS with 18 home runs and 54 RBI. That type of power production is something that this Phillies lineup is lacking from a right-handed outfield bat. As with many power hitters around baseball in today's game, the A's power hitter has a relatively high strikeout rate, but he's also drawing walks at a rate just under 10 percent on the season.

Phillies lack offensive punch from left field

One of the biggest reasons that adding a player like Rooker would make sense for the Phillies is because their current left field options lack the ability to hit against left-handed pitching. Brandon Marsh has been hot against right-handers, with an OPS of .847 so far this season. Against left-handers, however, he has an OPS of just .400.

The other options, Cristian Pache and Whit Merrifield, have not performed much against left-handed pitching either, despite being right-handed bats. Pache has an overall OPS of .553 this season and Merrifield's OPS sits at just .561. Neither player has an OPS above .700 against left-handed pitching.

Rooker adds value in hitting against left-handed pitchers. His .986 OPS against southpaws is well above average and would provide a huge power upgrade. The 29-year-old is not known for his defensive prowess, so the Phillies will have to decide if his offensive upside is worth trading for. Rooker is due to hit arbitration after this season and would be under team control until he can test free agency after the 2027 season.

That factor could drive up the A's asking price for their slugger. On the positive side for a team looking to acquire him, the Mississippi State product will come relatively cheap over the next year or two as he earns raises through the arbitration process. On a team with World Series aspirations, Rooker could be a valuable asset for the Phillies to add to their already potent lineup, if the price is right.