Potential Phillies trade targets to consider with Tigers in town

The Phillies’ potential trade targets to consider with the Tigers in town originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Let’s face it. There’s nothing about the Tigers playing the Phillies that screams traditional rivalry.

Look a little deeper, though, and the outlines of how Detroit could end up playing a big role in the Phillies’ hopes of defending their National League pennant begin to emerge.

Even extending their winning streak to three games by beating the Tigers, 8-3, Monday night at Citizens Bank Park, they still have four games under the .500 mark. If the season ended today, they wouldn’t make the playoffs.

The reason the Phillies find themselves playing from behind in the standings is because the offense and tee shot were too inconsistent.

There’s not much President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski can do about the roster. He is surrounded by big contracts that guarantee that Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, JT Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos will play healthy almost every day. There’s not a lot of wiggle room here.

Rotation is another story. The rotation does not have a fifth starter. Even assuming Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Taijuan Walker and Ranger Suarez remain healthy, it’s a void that will eventually need to be filled.

It could be top prospect Andrew Painter, though that’s asking a lot for a 20-year-old with just five career starts as high as Double-A who’s been on the IL all season with a sprained elbow. And there is no specific date on when he might return to the mound. Other high-profile prospects Griff McGarry (who is coming off an oblique injury and is yet to stretch) and Mick Abel (2-3, 5.09 ERA but 30 hits allowed and 48 strikeouts in 40 2/ 3 innings) are always Reading Double-A.

Bailey Falter, who opened the season in the rotation, could be recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where none of the other IronPigs starters posted stunning numbers.

Or …

The Phillies could make a deal. Of course, they would have to find a team that is not in contention and is looking to jump into 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 return them for whatever the market will bear rather than have them leave during the off season.

A team, in other words, much like the one currently manning the visitors’ dugout at CBP.

Only three American League teams are further from the third and final wildcard spot than Detroit. And, in a bit of serendipity, they have three starting pitchers who can control where they play next season and who might be of interest to suitors.

RHP Michael Lorenzen

The 31-year-old is off to a strong start with a 3.22 ERA and 0.94 WHIP and has allowed zero or one earned run in four of his last five starts. He earns $8.5 million.

Unfortunately, he last pitched on Saturday, so he’s not scheduled to face the Phillies this series.

LHP Matthew Boyd

Overall, the numbers for the 32-year-old aren’t impressive: 3-4, 5.57 ERA. But he is 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 Boyd’s metrics suggest: his swing and miss rate ranks in the top 20% of Major League pitchers according to Statcast. His fastball rotation rate ranks in the top eight percent this season and was up slightly on Sunday, helping him fire eight of his 15 streaks. His 2023 salary is $10 million.

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez

He would be the jackpot, but there are complications. He is under contract with Detroit for three more years for a total salary of $49 million, but has an opt-out. He’s 4-4 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, but was placed on the IL with an injured finger that should sideline him for at least six weeks.

It’s hard to say if it would be a bigger bet for the Tigers to make him available or for another team to risk sacrificing a lot to get him.

The Tigers are of course not the only potential trading partners. The White Sox, who are even further behind than the Tigers, will likely at least listen to offers from Lucas Giolito. The pool of teams ready to sell should increase as the deadline approaches. Would the Guardians consider parting ways with Shane Bieber? The Giants with Alex Wood? Marcus Stroman, who can terminate his contract at the end of the season?

Then there’s the question of how much the Phillies would be willing to spend, in terms of money and players, to shore up the rotation.

That will depend on how well the Phillies play in the coming weeks, how deep managing partner John Middleton is willing to dip into his pocket, and the contributions from the aforementioned company of Nola, Wheeler, Walker & Suarez.

Still, it’s something fun to think about while the Tigers are in town.

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