While the city speculates on the trades the Phillies could make leading up to the July 31 deadline, myself included, and the recent acquisition of slugger Jay Bruce, let’s take a look at five trades Phillies fans should be happy the team did not make over the last year.
RHP Chris Archer:
Acquired by the Tampa Bay Rays as the main piece in the 2011 Matt Garza trade with the Chicago Cubs, the former top-30 prospect made his debut in the sunshine state in June of 2012. By the 2014 season, Archer was pitching at the top of the Rays rotation and agreed to a six-year extension worth $25.5 million. After finishing in the top five in AL Cy Young voting in 2015, Archer has failed to have an ERA south of 4.00 in any of the following seasons.
The Rays were shopping him hard in 2018, eventually sending him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a deal that shocked the baseball world. The Pirates gave up top prospects OF Austin Meadows and RHP Tyler Glasnow, along with RHP Shane Baz to acquire the now 29-year-old Archer.
Archer has gone 5-8 with the Pirates with a 4.95 ERA across 19 starts. Meanwhile, Glasnow began living up to his potential in 2019, posting a 6-1 record with a 1.86 ERA before going on the 60-day IL with a right forearm strain. He struck out 55 hitters in 48.1 innings prior to the injury. Meadows has been a key cog in the Rays lineup, hitting .357 with 12 home runs, 37 RBI and seven steals, even after serving some time on the 10-day IL.
The Phillies would have had to give up multiple top prospects for an home run prone two-pitch pitcher. While he would have gotten the strikeouts, Archer is nowhere near worth the value the Pirates gave up to acquire him.
RHP Kevin Gausman:
The former fourth overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Gausman was a staple in the Baltimore Orioles rotation since his debut in 2013. His 4.22 career ERA in Baltimore is steady, but nowhere near what the Phillies need. Since being acquired by the Atlanta Braves at the 2018 trade deadline, Gausman has pitched to a 4.16 ERA, going 7-7 in 21 starts, including a 2-4 record with a 5.56 ERA so far this year.
The Braves gave up four prospects along with international signing money to acquire Gausman and reliever Darren O’Day. While he is not eligible for free agency until the 2021 season, the Phillies have a few high-upside, underperforming right-handed starters of their own in Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez. They should be glad they did not acquire a third one in Gausman.
RHP Roberto Osuna:
In a controversial and surprising trade, the Houston Astros acquired Osuna to be their closer from the Toronto Blue Jays after a 75 game suspension for violating the league’s policy on domestic assault.
Now mired in their own bout with such allegations, this trade would have been a no-brainer in terms of the 24-year-old Osuna’s talent, but the Phillies are right to have stayed as far away from the reliever as they did, even with all of their bullpen issues.
It must be stated that the Astros did include former Phillies closer Ken Giles in the package for Osuna. Both Osuna and Giles have been the closer for their new teams since the deal was agreed upon.
2B Robinson Cano and RHP Edwin Diaz:
One look at the career of Diaz and he instantly becomes the apple of any front office’s eye. The Phillies reportedly attempted to acquire him when they traded for Jean Segura in December of 2018. The rival New York Mets did, however, land Diaz, who led the majors with 57 saves last season for the Seattle Mariners. While he is 1-3 with a 3.04 ERA for the Mets this year, along with 13 saves in 15 chances, it is the other piece of that trade the Phillies should be relieved they did not acquire.
Can you imagine a scenario where the Phillies acquired Segura, Diaz and Cano in the same blockbuster, especially with the offseason speculation that Cesar Hernandez’s awful 2018 season put his job at second base in jeopardy?
The Philadelphia faithful can catch their collective breath as the 36-year-old Cano, who is currently on the 10-day IL, along with his impending free agency… in 2024, will not be wearing Phillies pinstripes anytime soon. Or ever.
Even when healthy this season, a .241 batting average with three homers and 13 RBI across 170 at-bats is not going to cut it.
3B Manny Machado:
Who would have ever thought that Machado would make a list like this?! The 26-year-old phenom was long-speculated to be traded to the Phillies prior to last year’s deadline, only for the Los Angeles Dodgers to swoop in and acquire the rental third baseman for a package of five prospects, three of which are currently in the top 25 for the Orioles.
The deal that broke Phillies fans hearts got even worse, as the Phils missed the postseason altogether in 2018, while Machado and the Dodgers returned to the World Series for the second consecutive year. However, GM Matt Klentak not making a trade for Machado, who ultimately signed a 10-year, $300 million free-agent contract with the San Diego Padres this offseason, was a blessing in disguise.
While the Phillies undoubtedly would have had to give up three to four of their top prospects to acquire Machado, it is the hindsight that makes it all the sweeter. If Machado became a Phillie and subsequently signed a massive extension, the club would never have signed the face of baseball, Bryce Harper, this past February.
Possibly even more importantly, the Phillies would not have had to prospect pool to acquire catcher J.T. Realmuto from the rival Miami Marlins. Ask yourself who you would rather have; Machado or Realmuto and Harper? The answer is obvious.