joaquin benoit

Trade deadline review: Klentak talks prospects, buyer's market, August deals

Trade deadline review: Klentak talks prospects, buyer's market, August deals

The trade of Joaquin Benoit to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday completed Phillies general manager Matt Klentak's flurry of activity during deadline week.

In totality, Klentak traded four rental veterans in Pat Neshek, Howie Kendrick, Jeremy Hellickson and Benoit and got back three right-handed pitching prospects, two left-handed pitching prospects, a major-league outfielder in Hyun Soo Kim and a Single A shortstop. They also received about $1 million in international bonus pool money, which places them in pretty exclusive company league-wide (see story).

The highest-upside player the Phillies acquired in the four trades was lefty McKenzie Mills, who came over from Washington in the Kendrick deal. Mills was 12-2 with a 3.01 ERA, 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.9 walks in 18 starts with the Nationals' Class A affiliate.

The other players may end up just being organizational depth. It's too difficult to project whether another team's prospect(s) will eventually impact your big-league club until he shows what he's got at Double A or Triple A.

If one or two of the players in their early-20s the Phillies acquired this week pan out, it will have been a job well done by Klentak, who lacked leverage with all four veterans. Neshek, Kendrick, Hellickson and Benoit are all free agents after the season, and there were question marks about three of them. Hellickson and Benoit have underwhelmed this season, and Kendrick missed 61 of the first 100 games with injuries.

The Phillies' getting anything at all in return for Hellickson and Benoit was basically a win.

"If a player's hurt or he's not performing well, it's hard to move him," Klentak said Monday. "I talked about this with Neshek and Howie and Jeremy and I'll say it with Joaquin as well: These guys delivered. We brought them in here to play a role for this team, they did it, and now they all find themselves in playoff races for the next two months."

(They "delivered" in different ways. Neshek and Kendrick were obviously much more productive when on the field than Hellickson and Benoit.)

It's been an interesting month of July across baseball. Big names like Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray and J.D. Martinez were traded. Rentals were moved. A lot of relievers were acquired by their old teams — David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Joe Smith, David Hernandez, Jeremy Jeffress.

The Phillies didn't have a big fish capable of bringing back a strong return, and it looked a lot like a buyer's market anyway.

"Every market is a little bit different," Klentak said after the deadline passed. "The activity and the phone calls were pretty heavy, really from that first Monday coming out of the All-Star Break. It was pretty consistent. I never felt like we were at a disadvantage. I do think that teams, especially early, were targeting players with multiple years of control, not the rentals. But as you've seen over the last 24-48 hours, obviously the rentals were moved as well."

The Phillies can still make trades in August but the process is more difficult. To be traded, a player must first be placed on waivers. If he is claimed by another team, the Phillies would be able to negotiate a trade with only that one team. If the player goes unclaimed, the Phillies would be able to trade him anywhere.

The thing is, young and inexpensive players like Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Cameron Rupp would surely be claimed because there would be no risk for the claiming team. The real risk of claiming a player in August is if he's expensive and the original team just says, "You take his contract." But with players like Joseph, Hernandez, Galvis and Rupp, their salaries are so low (relatively speaking, obviously) that a team would be fine with assuming one of their contracts.

For those reasons, it seems like the only potential August trade candidate the Phillies have is Daniel Nava, who's currently on the 10-day DL with a hamstring strain.

"I think these were probably the four biggest salaried players that we had to trade," Klentak said of the four players he dealt this week. "And sometimes it's the guys who make money that become August trade targets. That doesn't mean we won't be active, but I think it's possible. We'll see."

Phillies trade Joaquin Benoit and cash to Pirates at deadline

Phillies trade Joaquin Benoit and cash to Pirates at deadline

The Phillies made one final move just before Monday's 4 p.m. trade deadline, trading right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit and cash to the Pirates for 23-year-old pitcher Seth McGarry.

Benoit, 40, signed with the Phillies as a free agent in the winter. He posted a 4.07 ERA in 42 innings with 43 strikeouts and 16 walks. The production was underwhelming, but Benoit still had some trade value because of his lengthy track record of success.

"Joaquin was a very steadying influence in our whole bullpen," GM Matt Klentak said. "Last offseason, when we were looking to add to our bullpen, we targeted Joaquin from the very beginning, knowing this guy had a track record of consistency and that's exactly what he delivered this year. We're all very appreciative for what he brought to us this year. Now we turn the page and for the last two months of the year, we get to see a lot more young players play. Those young players have been really playing well for the last couple of weeks, as evidenced by the sweep here (of the Braves)."

The veteran reliever has been used in a bevy of roles for the Phillies. Benoit began the season as the setup man before moving into the closer's role and then back into a setup role. He also has pitched in the sixth and seventh innings. After his worst outing of the season against the Mariners on May 10, Benoit complained about the lack of roles in the Phillies' bullpen.

Benoit is the fourth player Klentak traded in the last week (see deadline review). The Phillies traded Pat Neshek to Colorado last Wednesday and Howie Kendrick to the Nationals and Jeremy Hellickson to the Orioles last Friday night.

McGarry, a 2015 eighth-round draft pick by Pittsburgh, has a 1.34 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 40 1/3 innings this season pitching for the Pirates' Single A affiliate, the Bradenton Marauders.

"Seth McGarry was pitching in High A this year. He's having a really good year and one of the things we're really excited about is he has a 73 percent groundball rate," Klentak said. "So I think he's a guy that will fit in very well in our system. He's another player that does not need to be protected in the Rule 5 draft this year, which is a positive for us.

"We're excited about the return in all four of these trades. I think we added some pretty good arms and a good infielder, and you guys got to see (Hyun Soo) Kim's approach at the plate today. He's got a pretty good, patient approach up there. But any chance we get to add depth in the pitching department into our system, we're going to look to do that. ... This is part of something that successful organizations do, they continue to replenish their system and they look for opportunities to add talent and that's what we've done here over the last week."

Klentak did not close the door on any August trades, but it seems unlikely the Phillies make any other moves aside from perhaps trading Daniel Nava. Trades are more complicated in August — a team can only shop a player to the whole league if that player first clears waivers. Guys like Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Cameron Rupp would be unlikely to clear waivers because they're relatively young and inexpensive. If a player gets claimed in August, he can only be traded to that team, which would greatly limit the Phillies' leverage.

CSNPhilly.com's Tom Dougherty contributed to this story.

Phillies' remaining trade possibilities with heavy lifting out of the way

Phillies' remaining trade possibilities with heavy lifting out of the way

The Phillies have gotten their heaviest pre-trade deadline lifting out of the way early, trading Pat Neshek, Howie Kendrick and Jeremy Hellickson over the last 72 hours for two right-handed pitching prospects, two left-handed pitching prospects, a Single A shortstop, a major-league outfielder and some useful international bonus pool money.

The non-waiver trade deadline is Monday at 4 p.m. Should we expect any more activity from Phils GM Matt Klentak?

OF/1B Daniel Nava
A switch-hitter who can play both outfield corners and first base, Nava is one of the most versatile bench pieces in the league. That gives him trade value, even though he's a 34-year-old impending free agent.

Nava has been extremely consistent at the plate this season, hitting .303 with a .400 on-base percentage in 180 plate appearances. He's hit .301 as a starter and .310 as a pinch-hitter.

Nava was placed on the 10-day DL on July 26 and is expected to return the first week of August. The Phillies would be able to trade him while he's on the DL if they wish. If not, Nava would be an August trade candidate, though the Phillies would like to get a deal done in July if possible. Why? Because Nava is the kind of player who is likely to be claimed on waivers in August, meaning the Phillies would be able to negotiate a trade with only one team as opposed to many.

The Phillies' return for Nava wouldn't be significant. They'd likely be looking at a player to be named later or a modest prospect like the Garrett Cleavinger kid they got for Hellickson.

RHP Joaquin Benoit
Benoit has had a strange season — it seems like he's pitched worse than he actually has.

Benoit pitched 1⅓ perfect innings Friday to lower his ERA to 4.07. He's been scored upon in 10 of 44 appearances and allowed multiple runs only four times. It's just that three of those outings were so bad — Benoit allowed a combined 11 runs in 1⅔ innings to the Mariners, Nationals and Pirates.

Benoit has struck out 43 batters in 42 innings this season, and though his control has been erratic at times, he actually has a lower walk rate (3.4 per nine) than his career mark.

But still, Benoit doesn't have much trade value as a 40-year-old rental reliever. The Mariners traded him to Toronto last July 26 for Drew Storen in a change-of-scenery move. Benoit had a 5.18 ERA with Seattle but then allowed just one run in 23 innings for the Blue Jays, so perhaps another team will be convinced that Benoit has a strong second half in him.

Benoit signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract, so he'll be owed approximately $2.5 million after July 31. The Phillies won't care about eating the remaining contract if a team makes an offer that is even somewhat enticing.

1B Tommy Joseph
There's no market for him, and even if another team does decide to trade for a first baseman, there are better options out there. If you want a rental, there's Mike Napoli and Yonder Alonso. If you want a controllable player, there's Justin Bour. 

The Yankees could still be in the market for a first baseman even after acquiring Todd Frazier, but a left-handed bat would make more sense for them.

The Red Sox have a glaring hole in the middle of their order, but if they fill it they'd want to do so with a player better than Joseph.

Joseph, to me, is the first-base equivalent of Detroit Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson. He's a starting player so he puts up numbers, but he's a slightly-below-league-average player at his position. Therefore, he doesn't have a ton of trade value because if a team acquires him, it is locking itself into playing him a lot when it might have better options internally or through free agency.

In 723 plate appearances with the Phillies, Joseph has hit .255/.310/.481 with 37 homers and 98 RBIs. Joseph's OPS over that span is .791, which is about 20 points lower than the league-average OPS from first basemen.

There's a school of thought that clearing Joseph's roster spot for Rhys Hoskins is more important than getting a decent return for him but I don't share that view. Why trade Joseph for 20 cents on the dollar when the alternative could be calling up Hoskins, playing him regularly and using Joseph as a powerful bat off the bench if Hoskins succeeds? The Phillies could do that and shop Joseph again in the winter when more teams would be interested.

2B Cesar Hernandez
Hernandez, like Joseph, could be shopped in the winter. The Phillies listened to offers for him last offseason but found nothing worthwhile. The only reason it could be a consideration again this winter is that Scott Kingery has emerged at the upper levels of the minor leagues. 

Hernandez is a good major-league player, it's just that Kingery's ceiling could be higher. Kingery is equal to or better than Hernandez defensively and on the basepaths, has more pop but is less selective at the plate.

Since the start of 2016, Hernandez has hit .289 with a .362 OBP. He has three years of arbitration eligibility left before becoming a free agent after 2020. An inexpensive leadoff hitter at a premium position has a lot of trade value and the Phillies are right to wait it out unless they get a logical offer.

C Cameron Rupp
Might the Phillies use Rupp's recent hot streak as a way to entice a catching-needy team?

Rupp has been on fire since June 23, hitting .386 in 13 starts with five homers, three doubles and nine RBIs. As a result, his OPS is up to .770, which ranks 12th out of 30 major-league catchers with at least 200 plate appearances.

Rupp will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, and he isn't slated for free agency until after 2020. He figures to make about $1.5 million to $2.5 million next season with slight raises coming after that.

When looking at potential fits for Rupp, you have to consider more than just contending teams because he's not yet 29 years old and is relatively inexpensive. For example, even a seller like his hometown Texas Rangers could consider him in a trade if they first move Jonathan Lucroy.

For the Phillies, trading Rupp is a consideration only because Andrew Knapp looks like a capable major-league catcher (.366 OBP) and Jorge Alfaro is out of options after this season.