Will they or won't they? Will the Philadelphia Phillies make a trade to upgrade their pitching before the start of their Opening Day contest on March 28? Despite the lack of moves, the championship-contending organization has been mentioned in rumors of being a free agent or trade suitor for several players.
Emmanuel Clase has appeared in trade rumors despite a lack of clarity that the Cleveland Guardians are willing to even entertain the idea of parting with their closer in a deal. Philadelphia has been mentioned as a team with potential interest, considering it's unclear which reliever will assume the closer role this season.
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski mentioned during his Feb. 7 appearance on SportsRadio 94WIP's Morning Show with Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie the possibility of the Phillies feeling confident in several of their relievers to close out games based on a particular matchup.
The idea of having one closing pitcher who a team designates for those roles far outweighs a committee approach. While the game has changed with the use of analytics since the Phillies' last championship in 2008, a part of their strength then was relying on closer Brad Lidge. In the event of injury or a lack of reliable performance, manager Rob Thomson should stick with using one reliever as a closer in 2024.
Phillies reportedly talking with Guardians about Emmanuel Clase
SportsRadio 94WIP's Howard Eskin believes the Phillies will acquire a minimum of either another starter, a reliever, or both. He discussed this topic during his guest appearance on DeCamara and Ritchie's Morning Show on Thursday.
The Guardians would reportedly like Phillies top outfield prospect Justin Crawford, recently ranked No. 77 by MLB Pipeline, to be involved in a deal for Clase.
Crawford, who just turned 20, was ranked No. 3 among Phillies prospects by MLB Pipeline last season and was named the fastest youngster in the 2024 Top 100 prospects. The 2022 first-round pick hit .332 with an .859 OPS with 22 doubles, eight triples, three home runs, 64 RBI, and 47 stolen bases in 87 games between Low- and High-A last season.
However, Eskin says Philadelphia is "not giving up Crawford." If that is the only way Cleveland does a deal involving the closer, then Philly will look elsewhere for a reliever if that is what they are seeking to add.
There have also been recent rumblings about the Phillies being in on a trade for Boston Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen.
Clase has been a decent closer during his four-year career in the majors. He led all closers in saves the past two seasons, with 42 during 2022 and 44 last season. His 56 save opportunities during 2023 were the most in the major leagues as well. It's understandable why the Guardians' asking price would be high, considering he has demonstrated himself as one of the league's best at 25 years old and is under team control through 2028.
The two clubs may not abandon talks regarding a potential deal involving Clase. But if Crawford remains on the Guardians' wish list, it doesn't appear the Phillies are interested in parting with the speedy outfielder.