Report: 'Tainted' Padres deal almost led Phillies to trade Jeremy Hellickson to Marlins

Report: 'Tainted' Padres deal almost led Phillies to trade Jeremy Hellickson to Marlins

Unable to find the right return for Jeremy Hellickson last July, the Phillies hung on to the veteran right-hander, extended him the qualifying offer in the offseason and watched him accept it.

Hellickson, 29 years old and coming off his best season since 2012, will make $17.2 million from the Phillies in 2017.

But, as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday, the Phillies and Marlins actually had a Hellickson trade agreement in place at the 2016 trade deadline and it was affected by a separate "tainted" deal made by San Diego GM A.J. Preller.

On July 29, the Padres traded veteran right-hander Andrew Cashner and back-end starter Colin Rea to the Marlins for reliever Carter Capps, former Phillies prospect Jarred Cosart and prospects Josh Naylor and Luis Castillo.

Three days later, the Padres and Marlins agreed to a reworked trade when it was revealed that Rea was injured.

The Marlins, who were in on Hellickson before acquiring Cashner, could have rescinded the entire trade with the Padres. Instead, they sent Rea back to San Diego for Castillo and kept the rest of the trade intact. 

If the Marlins instead chose to rescind the entire Padres deal, they had an agreement in place to trade Naylor to the Phillies for Hellickson, according to Rosenthal. But by the time the Rea-for-Castillo swap had been agreed upon — Aug. 1, trade deadline day — it was too late for the Marlins to do anything with the Phillies.

The result of all this is that the Phillies kept Hellickson rather than trade him for Naylor, a first base prospect and the 12th overall pick in 2015.

How much does this hurt? That remains to be seen because Naylor is still 19 and hasn't yet reached Double A. But he's not viewed as a top prospect at his position despite the high draft status. 

Naylor (6-0/225) has played only first base in his minor-league career. There are questions about his athleticism and tools aside from his raw power. Last season, in his first full year as a pro, he hit .264/.302/.407 with 29 doubles, 12 homers, 75 RBIs, 25 walks and 84 strikeouts in 514 plate appearances.

ESPN's Keith Law did not rank Naylor among his top 10 Padres prospects in his end-of-January list, writing:

"Naylor has huge power and won't turn 20 until June, but needs to commit himself to becoming a better hitter first so the power can play, and first base is probably always going to be a challenge for him."

With Tommy Joseph and Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies already have a pair of promising, powerful right-handed young first basemen. Perhaps Naylor, in an alternate universe, could have been a platoon complement to them down the road.

Instead, the Phillies still have Hellickson, which isn't the worst thing in the world. But if they don't trade Hellickson this summer, they won't get any draft pick compensation because the new CBA prevents a player from receiving a qualifying offer more than once. (The only way to recoup a draft pick for a departing player is to extend him the qualifying offer and have him reject it and opt for free agency.)

So, theoretically, the Phillies will have less leverage in a Hellickson trade this summer than they did last, when keeping him and extending the offer was a possibility and when Hellickson was one of the top available starting pitchers.

As for Preller, this wasn't a one-time thing. He was suspended by Major League Baseball last September for failing to disclose required medical information in a different trade with the Red Sox that occurred two weeks earlier than the Padres-Marlins-Phillies ordeal.

In that one, San Diego sent left-hander Drew Pomeranz to Boston for top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, and one of the reported charges was that the Padres did not reveal the oral medications Pomeranz and other players were receiving.

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 1: Vince Velasquez and Tommy Joseph show off their power

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 1: Vince Velasquez and Tommy Joseph show off their power

BOX SCORE

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Phillies showed a little power in their 7-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night.

Tommy Joseph provided some of it.

Vince Velasquez provided a lot of it.

Joseph crushed a two-run home run to left field and also lined a double off the center-field wall on his way to a four-hit game. The double came off his bat at 109 miles per hour. The homer was his third of the spring.

Meanwhile, Velasquez showed off his big fastball in striking out seven Blue Jays over five innings of work. Vinny Velo's final pitch of the night was a 97-mph dart past a swinging Jose Bautista.

"That pitch felt really good coming out of my hand," Velasquez said. "Sometimes my fastball slips a little bit and I yank it, but this one I got right behind and threw it right through the catcher."

Velasquez actually struck out the side in that fifth inning against three pretty good hitters in Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Bautista.

"That last inning, he really let it go," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Pitch economy remains an area that Velasquez needs to improve on. He threw 87 pitches. But he was pleased with the way he attacked hitters in that final inning of work.

"I didn't attack in one inning," he said. "But in that last inning, I stopped fiddling around and trusted my stuff. I need to do that the whole time."

Velasquez gave up just one run, a homer to Martin. He allowed five hits and walked two.

Velasquez had a busy night. He drove home a run with a ground out against Aaron Sanchez. He also walked against Sanchez and scored a run on a dash home from third base after Freddy Galvis got hung up between first and second. Galvis waved Velasquez home. After crossing home plate, Velasquez, rather humorously, almost ran into the netted backstop.

"I just had momentum. I got excited," he said. "As soon as I saw Tulo (shortstop Troy Tulowitzki) make eye contact with Freddy, I booked it. He's going to think, 'Pitchers can't run,' so I showed off my athleticism."

After the outing, Velasquez pronounced himself ready for the regular season.

"I'm good to go," he said.

He made five Grapefruit League starts and gave up eight runs in 19 2/3 innings. He walked nine and struck out 25.

"It's been a strong, healthy, successful spring training," he said.

Velasquez will likely start the home opener on April 7. He will need to get some work in this weekend. The Phillies leave Florida on Friday. He could stay behind for a day and pitch at the minor-league complex if needed.

Offense clicks
The Phillies had 12 hits. They had 15 in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Up next
The Phillies play the Blue Jays again on Tuesday night. That game will be in Clearwater. Aaron Nola will start against Marco Estrada.

Andrew Knapp to make Phillies' roster -- remaining roster decisions are close

Andrew Knapp to make Phillies' roster -- remaining roster decisions are close

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The pathway for Andrew Knapp to make the Phillies' opening day roster as the backup catcher was cleared way back in November when he was added to the 40-man roster.

The job all but became Knapp's on Monday when the team released two veteran catchers who were not on the 40-man roster. When Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday were let go, Knapp became one of just two catchers in camp, the other being starter Cameron Rupp (see story).

So it's pretty obvious that the 25-year-old Knapp will open the season with the big club -- even though nothing will become official until rosters are filed with the commissioner's office this weekend.

"Obviously there are four or five days left," Knapp said. "I'm just going to keep trying to make good impressions and try to win a job. I'm keeping my head down, trying not to think about it too much."

Knapp was the Phillies' second-round draft pick of Cal-Berkeley in 2013. He has never played in the majors.

"It would be a dream come true," he said. "Everyone hopes to get called up at some point but to make a team on opening day would be pretty special and it would be the best moment in my career so far."

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin acknowledged that Knapp would probably make the club.

Mackanin would like to have the rest of his roster in order over the next day or two.

"As soon as possible," he said. "Because the last four or five games I'd like to play almost as if it were a season -- using the bullpen that way, using the bench in a certain way, seeing what it looks like, our bench guys, all our hitters. We just don't want to make a bad decision so we're just going to string it out as long as we can."

Roster questions must still be answered on the bench and in the bullpen.

How does the bench shape up? Andres Blanco, Aaron Altherr and Knapp are set. The Phils are expected to go with a five-man bench so that leaves two openings. There are four players vying for those spots: Chris Coghlan, Daniel Nava, Brock Stassi and Jesmuel Valentin. Valentin has impressed, but at 22 years old, he would benefit from playing every day at Triple A.

Mackanin praised Stassi's work on Monday. If Stassi makes the club, the final spot would come down to Coghlan and Nava.

"Stassi has obviously made a great impression, mainly because, not necessarily because of his results, but the fact that he had a lot of quality at-bats," Mackanin said. "It looks like he can handle making adjustments to the different pitchers and different situations. He seemed to handle left-handers well. He made a good impression, as has Coughlan. Nava has also been consistent throughout the spring."

Stassi, Coghlan and Nava are all non-roster players so the Phils would have to clear 40-man roster space to add any of them.

Two spots remain open in the bullpen. Adam Morgan, Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia, Alec Asher and Cesar Ramos are the candidates. All but Ramos is on the 40-man roster.

How will this all shake out?

More answers are probably coming Tuesday.