After months of rumor and speculation, the Philadelphia Phillies have finally cashed in their most valuable trade chip. As you might expect, the reaction ranges from agony to ecstasy. But, before we declare a winner and loser in this deal, let’s take a better look.
In Cole Hamels, the Rangers are getting a bona fide top of the rotation lefthander they can team with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Yovani Gallardo to create a formidable rotation for years to come.
Jake Diekman is a curious case. He was already a hard-throwing lefty reliever when his delivery was deliberately altered to make him more difficult to face. The success of that experiment has been sporadic at best. But, the value of a confounding lefty out of the pen is too tempting to resist.
But, we knew that … who are these new guys?
Matt Harrison may be a familiar name to anyone that watched him start Game 7 the 2011 World Series or pitch in the 2012 All-Star Game. Of course, if you watched him in either of those situations, you saw the lefthander get lit up like a Roman Candle. At 29, he’s been in the league since 2008 and overall he is 50-35 with a 4.21 ERA and allows a home run for about every nine innings he pitches. Since 2013, two back surgeries have limited his availability and effectiveness. He’s owed about $30 million on a contract that runs through 2017 with a club option for 2018. Absorbing that contract makes the money the Phils added to their part of the package a little curious.
Jorge Alfaro could be the catching prospect that the Phillies’ farm system has been lacking since names like Travis D’Arnaud, Sebastian Valle, Tommy Joseph and Lou Marson have either flamed out or been dealt away. Depending on the list you prefer, Alfaro is anywhere from the 31st to the 67th best prospect in the game. He is 22 and has yet to ascend beyond AA. He was hitting .253, having thrown out 10 of the 36 runners who tried to steal on him when an ankle injury shut him down for what could be the remainder of the 2015 season.
Of the remaining four pieces, outfielder Nick Williams and righthanded pitchers Alec Asher, Jake Thompson and Jerad Eickhoff, much remains to be seen. The Rangers thought enough of Thompson to take him from the Detroit Tigers in last season’s Joakim Soria deal. But, he has failed to impress at AA Frisco thus far. Williams is a long and lean outfielder that will be 22 in September. Also in Frisco this season, he is hitting .299 with 13 homers and 10 steals. Asher, 24, and Eickhoff, who just turned 25 were both at AAA Round Rock with ERA’s north of 4.00.
Surely, the Rangers will see the immediate benefit here. But, there was a time when the Tigers were happy to have gotten Doyle Alexander for ‘that Smoltz kid’. Trades like these take years to fully gauge. Yes, when you look at the injuries to Alfaro and Harrison, as well as the time it will take to develop the others, it does look a little like 76ers GM Sam Hinkie may have been advising on this deal.
Nevertheless, dear readers, we know this was the necessary move. Could they have gotten more from the Dodgers, Cubs, Astros or another suitor? One imagines that, if they could have, veteran baseball men like Pat Gillick, Andy MacPhail and even the embattled Ruben Amaro Jr. would have made that deal instead.
For now, we can say a fond farewell to the kid from San Diego who became a man in Philadelphia and gave us all a few thrills along the way.