By Connor Thomas
Yesterday, the Phillies had a very tumultuous day on the diamond. Following Wednesday night’s game being postponed due to a Washington Nationals COVID outbreak, the Phils and Nats faced off in a double header just ahead of today’s 4pm trade deadline. The Phillies had not officially made a trade yet; their attempted deal for Pittsburgh’s Tyler Anderson had fallen through at the last minute. This meant that the outcome of the double header could have a serious impact on what Dave Dombrowski and company would do before transactions were shut down for the remainder of the MLB season. Game 1 was fast, with 2 aces facing off in Zack Wheeler and Max Scherzer. Scherzer eventually outdueled Wheeler to help urge the Nationals to a 3-1 win in what was very possibly the veteran’s last start in a Washington uniform. Heading into game 2, the Phils were staring down the barrel of dropping 3 out of 4 to an actively selling team. Joe Girardi elected to try and use a bullpen game in the back half of the twin billing, and the strategy did not pay off. The Nationals jumped out to a 7-0 lead, and it appeared that the 2021 Phillies would be heading to market trying to unload a couple of players to actual contenders. If you’ve turned on any sports show over the past day, you know that the Phils came all the way back, capping off a miraculous comeback with a Brad Miller walk off grand slam in extra innings. It was an awesome comeback, an incredible finish, and believe it or not, the first come from behind extra innings walk off grand slam in Philadelphia Phillies franchise history.
And yet, the Phillies should still be sellers. This team was on the verge of losing 3 of 4 to a team that has made every one of their players available except Juan Soto. They have been sitting at or right near .500 for what seems like forever. That means that for every walk off grand slam winner, the next night is a back breaking loss. If they had a bevy of prospects that could be sold off for a Kris Bryant or a Byron Buxton or a real difference making starter or reliever, sure, buy and try and win a bad division. But those prospects don’t exist in Philadelphia’s farm system. The middling players that the Phils could possibly add aren’t enough to make enough of a difference for a team with numerous holes. While yesterday’s walk off was a great moment, Dombrowski cannot allow it to cloud the judgement of what this team is. They’re not a terrible team, but they have clearly shown you that they are not consistent enough to win the NL East and make it into the playoffs. .500 will not win the division, and there is no indication that the Phillies, even with another starter or an added reliever or another veteran bat, are better than a .500 ball club. It’s the unfortunate reality of where this team stands, and it leaves Dombrowski with only one option.
Sell sell sell. Move Andrew McCutchen; he’s hot right now and deserves to spend his later years in the MLB with a contender. Search out the trade market for Jean Segura, who has been the Phillies best hitter since the All-Star break (and for a lot of the year). See if a contender is interested in an Odubel Herrera, Didi Gregorius, or Jose Alvarado. Keep your youth, but sell off any veterans with skill and tradeable contracts. Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto are cornerstones that have to stay, along with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola in the rotation. But a lot of guys are expendable when you can’t string wins together, and that’s where the Phillies find themselves. One walk off grand slam, regardless of the excitement it brought yesterday afternoon, is not enough to change that.