Phillies get busy at Winter Meetings
There is little need for an elite-level closer on a rebuilding team.
That philosophy led the Phillies to trade Ken Giles to the Houston Astros.
According to MLB.com, the Phillies traded Giles for Brett Oberholtzer; Vincent Velasquez; a minor leaguer, Derek Fisher; and a player to be named. The deal is pending physicals.
The rebuilding Phillies will likely lose more often than they win next season, which makes a player such as Giles expendable. They were able to flip a closer for multiple young pitchers. First-year general manager Matt Klentak has repeatedly said that he wants to "augment" the team's pitching depth.
The Phillies will now have to find a reliable closer — just like Giles — in time for when their rebuilding project yields winning results. One of those options could be minor-league righthanders Edubray Ramos or Jimmy Cordero.
Velasquez, a righthander, matches a mid-80s slider with a mid-90s fastball. The 23-year-old reached the majors in June, finishing his rookie season with a 4.37 ERA in 552/3 innings. He broke in as a starter but was shuffled to the bullpen after seven starts when the Astros acquired Scott Kazmir. Houston drafted him in the second round in 2010. Velasquez missed all of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He spent most of his time in the minors as a starter, which is what the Phillies likely consider him to be.
Oberholtzer, a Delaware native, started 42 games over the last three seasons. He had a 4.46 ERA in eight starts last season. The 26-year-old lefthander struck out 27 batters and walked 17 in 381/3 innings. He spent the season's final two months in triple A.
Fisher is an outfield prospect from Western Pennsylvania.
Giles became the Phillies closer in July, when the team traded Jonathan Papelbon to Washington. His first save came in Toronto and the final out was a fly ball to the warning track. Giles, 25, finished the season with 15 saves. He struck out 87 batters and walked 25 in 70 innings. His blazing fastball and intense demeanor made him a perfect fit for the stress of the ninth inning.
"Once he got past that original performance, he knew he 'was the guy.' For that role, you've got to have that kind of mentality," manager Pete Mackanin said.
Giles' replacement with the Phillies may have been acquired on Wednesday morning. The Phillies made their first move of the winter meetings by signing righthander David Hernandez to a one-year contract. The deal, according to Yahoo Sports, is worth $3.9 million and includes incentives based on how many games Hernandez finishes.
The 30-year-old returned last June after missing all of 2014 because of Tommy John surgery. Hernandez, who spent his last four seasons with Arizona, finished the year with a 4.28 ERA in 332/3 innings. Most of his outings were in the seventh inning or later.
Hernandez seemed to improve toward the end of the year, and his elbow became further removed from surgery. He allowed three earned runs in his final 101/3 innings. The pitcher recorded scoreless appearances in 10 of his final 12 games.
"Throughout the last couple of months, we've been adding a lot of depth to our bullpen. Many of those players don't come with a lot of experience," Klentak said. "So we wanted to make sure that we added at least one player who added a lot of experience who could help to pitch in the late part of the game. David, during his time in Arizona, was one of the better setup men in baseball."
It is unclear whether Giles will assume the closer's role in Houston. The Astros signed Luke Gregerson last December to a three-year contract. The 31-year-old righthander converted 31 of his 36 save chances last season. He struck out 59 batters and walked 10 in 61 innings.
No matter how they split the duties, the Astros should have a formidable late-inning pair with Giles and Gregerson. Giles may not be closing games, but it is certain he will get the chance to showcase his ability in meaningful situations.
Phils pick up Goeddel in Rule 5 Draft: Last year, the Phillies had the eighth pick in the Rule 5 Draft and selected Odubel Herrera.
They made a rare find in the Rule 5 Draft. Herrera hit .297 and became more comfortable in the outfield as the season progressed.
They're looking for more success this year, especially since they owned the top pick due to the fact that they had the worst record in baseball this past season.
With that pick, they selected 23-year-old outfielder Tyler Goeddel from the Rays. He was a first-round pick (41st overall) by Tampa Bay in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft.
"I think this mirrors a lot what we tried to do last year with Herrera," Phillies Director of Professional Scouting Mike Ondo said. "It's taking a chance on a prospect and adding him to the mix that we have. Trying to hit big on a player with a high ceiling."
Goeddel is known for his speed, being a good defender and brings some power potential. He was originally a third baseman and switched to the outfield last season. Ondo left open the possibility of him returning to the infield since he is trying to make the team but said the Phillies took him as an outfielder.
Initially, they're planning on trying him in each of the three outfield positions and see how he handles them.
He could bring some offense, too. Last year was Goeddel's best professional offensive season as he hit .279 with 12 home runs and 72 RBIs for Double-A Montgomery. The home runs set a career-high. Three of them came in the same game, setting a franchise record for the Biscuits.
Just like last season, the Phillies also took a second player in the Rule 5 Draft, something General Manager Matt Klentak was unsure of Wednesday depending how things played out.
Left-hander Daniel Stumpf was taken in the second round by Philadelphia from Kansas City's Triple-A roster.
With Double-A Northwest Arkansas last season, Stumpf went 5-4 with a 3.95 ERA. He was drafted in the ninth round of the MLB Amateur Draft by the Royals in 2012.
"We like the arm," Ondo said. "We like the aggressiveness, the approach he has. He handled left-handers real well this year. Left-handers only hit .167 against him. He's an aggressive reliever up to 94 [mph] and he's got a slider to get left-handers out."
They're looking for Stumpf to compete for a spot in the bullpen.
In 2014, the Phillies took lefty Andy Oliver, who was outrighted to Triple-A and elected free agency April 4.
The Phillies could have lost a few players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, most notably outfielder Carlos Tocci and right-hander Alberto Tirado, but none of their players were selected.
They did lose right-hander Manny Martinez to the White Sox in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Martinez was 3-1 with a save and a 2.51 ERA with Single-A Lakewood in 2015.
The selections fill the Phillies 40-man roster, meaning they will have to clear one spot for the Ken Giles trade to become official.