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UPDATE: The Phillies and Rangers in “Pretty Deep” Discussions about Possible Vince Velasquez Trade

With Jeremy Hellickson at the forefront of Phillies trade rumors ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, there’s another Phillies pitcher who’s getting a lot of attention. Vince Velasquez, who the Phillies acquired from the Houston Astros as one of the pieces in the Ken Giles trade, could be heading back to Texas soon. The Texas Rangers, according to CSN’s Jim Salisbury, are in deep discussions with the Phillies pertaining to a Velasquez trade. They had a few scouts in attendance in Atlanta Friday night.

The big news from this game, however, was that Vince Velasquez might have made his last start with the Phillies. A major league source told that the Phillies and Texas Rangers are “pretty deep” in trade discussions involving Velasquez. The Rangers, the source said, also have some interest in Jeremy Hellickson, who pitches for the Phillies on Saturday night, but he appears to be a secondary target.
It would take top talent to get Velasquez, a 24-year-old right-hander with a power arm. The Phillies acquired him over the winter from Houston as the centerpiece in the deal that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.
The Rangers had several scouts at the game, including Scott Littlefield, one of their top talent evaluators.
The Rangers’ interest in Velasquez was reported earlier in the week by Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
Apparently there’s more than just interest. Stay tuned as Monday’s trade deadline approaches.

The report came moments after the Phillies lost to the Braves, 2-1, Friday night. Velasquez started for the Phils, giving up two runs and seven hits in six innings. He’s been a bright spot for the Phillies this season, and nobody will forget his masterful 16-strikeout performance against the Padres in April.

It’d be interesting to see who the Rangers would be willing to give up. Of their top five prospects, three of them are pitchers. With Tommy Joseph cementing himself as a pretty good starting option at first base, and Maikel Franco the cornerstone at third base, top Rangers prospect Joey Gallo might not be an option. With Adrian Beltre getting up there in age, Gallo is likely the Rangers’ third baseman of the future if the Rangers part ways with Jurickson Profar. Lewis Brinson is the Rangers’ top ranked outfield prospect, and the Phillies could use a lot of help there despite the emergence of Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr in the bigs and Nick Williams in the minors. But with right fielder Dylan Cozens absolutely murdering baseballs in Reading [along with first baseman Rhys Hoskins], their outfield problems may be short-lived. There’s nothing wrong with stacking talent, though. Just ask the Sixers.

It’s also no secret the Phillies are on an innings limit with Velasquez. He’s had an injury history and if this is Matt Klentak’s chance to add a few more prospects to the system, he’d be silly to not try and get the best deal for him, especially when the Phillies aren’t in contention.

If the Rangers make the move for Velasquez, one has to wonder if they’ll throw that innings limit out the window. They’re currently in first place by four games in the AL West with a 60-44 record. Adding Velasquez would bolster a starting rotation that includes Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish [he’ll be a free agent after next season], Martin Perez, AJ Griffin and Lucas Harrell [who they traded for from the Braves earlier this week]. Griffin and Harrell are holding the fort while Derek Holland and Colby Lewis recover from injuries. They’re not expected to be back in the rotation until late August.

But the Rangers have other options than just Velasquez. They’ve been linked to reports of wanting White Sox pitcher Chris Sale and Rays pitcher Chris Archer. And, of course, there’s still Hellickson, who was linked to the Marlins heavily the last few days before they made their trade to get Padres arms Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea. So now the Rangers might be looking at both Velasquez and Hellickson.

Our own Adrian Fedkiw doesn’t think Velasquez is going anywhere. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuut, I’m not so sure. Ken Rosenthal said before last night’s game that a deal was unlikely. But that was before Salisbury’s report.

Quite appropriately, Hellickson will start tonight in Atlanta. Unless he, you know, gets traded before then. We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick echoes Rosenthal’s statement, saying a deal between the two teams seems unlikely.

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