Potential Phillies trade targets to consider with Tigers in town
Lets face it. Theres nothing about the Tigers playing the Phillies that screams traditional rivalry.
Look a little deeper, though, and the outline for a way Detroit could end up playing an important role in the Phillies hopes of defending their National League pennant begins to emerge.
Even extending their winning streak to three games by beating the Tigers, 8-3, Monday night at Citizens Bank Park still leaves them four games under .500. If the season ended today, they wouldnt make the playoffs.
The reason the Phillies find themselves playing from behind in the standings is that both the offense and the starting pitching have been too inconsistent.
Theres not much president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski can do about the lineup. Hes boxed in by big contracts that all but guarantee Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos will play nearly every day when healthy. Theres not a whole lot of room for maneuvering here.
The rotation is a different story. The rotation doesnt have a fifth starter. Even assuming that Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Taijuan Walker and Ranger Suarez remain healthy, thats a void that will eventually have to be addressed.
It could be top prospect Andrew Painter, although thats asking a lot from a 20-year-old with only five career starts as high as Double-A who has been on the IL all season with a sprained elbow. And theres no firm date on when he might get back on the mound. Other well-regarded prospects, Griff McGarry (who is coming off an oblique injury and is not yet stretched out) and Mick Abel (2-3, 5.09 ERA but 30 hits allowed and 48 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings) are still at Double-A Reading.
Bailey Falter, who opened the season in the rotation, could be recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where none of the other IronPigs starters have put up eye-popping numbers.
The Phillies could make a deal. Of course, theyd have to find a team thats out of contention and looking to get a jump on rebuilding for 2024 before the August 1 trade deadline. A team that has a pitcher or pitchers who can become free agents at the end of the season, meaning their current employers might choose to flip them for whatever the market will bear rather than have them walk away in the offseason.
A team, in other words, that looks very much like the one currently occupying the visitors dugout at CBP.
Only three American League teams are more distant from the third and final wild-card spot than Detroit. And, in a bit of serendipity, they happen to have three starting pitchers who can control where they play next season who could be of interest to contenders.
RHP Michael Lorenzen
The 31-year-old is off to a good start with a 3.22 earned run average and a 0.94 WHIP and has allowed zero or one earned run in four of his last five starts. Hes making $8.5 million.
Unfortunately, he last pitched on Saturday so he isnt scheduled to face the Phillies this series.
LHP Matthew Boyd
Overall, the numbers for the 32-year-old are unimpressive: 3-4, 5.57 ERA. But hes coming off his best start of the season Sunday against the White Sox when he struck out nine in five innings while allowing one run on three hits.
Wrote Tigers MLB.com beat writer Jason Beck: This is more in line with what Boyds metrics suggest: His swing-and-miss rate ranks in the top 20 percent of Major League pitchers according to Statcast. His fastball spin rate ranks in the top eight percent this season and was slightly up Sunday, helping him draw eight of his 15 swinging strikes. His 2023 salary is $10 million.
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez
He would be the prize catch, but there are complications. Hes under contract to Detroit for three more years at a total salary of $49 million but has an opt-out clause. Hes 4-4 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.98 WHIP but was placed on the IL with an injured finger thats expected to sideline him at least six weeks.
Its hard to say whether it would be a bigger gamble for the Tigers to make him available or for another team to risk giving up a lot to get him.
The Tigers arent the only potential trade partners, of course. The White Sox, who have fallen even further off the pace than the Tigers, will likely at least listen to offers for Lucas Giolito. The pool of teams willing to sell should increase as the deadline nears. Would the Guardians consider parting with Shane Bieber? The Giants with Alex Wood? Marcus Stroman, who can opt out of his contract at the end of the season?
Then there is the issue of how much the Phillies would be willing to spend, in terms of both money and players, to shore up the rotation.
That will depend on how well the Phillies play in the coming weeks, how much deeper managing partner John Middleton is willing to dig into his pocket and the contributions of the aforementioned firm of Nola, Wheeler, Walker & Suarez.
Still, its something fun to think about while the Tigers are in town.