For Phillies fans, this time of year can prove to be quite boring. The team is still two months away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Clearwater and the Winter Meetings will not be nearly as exciting since the organization has already traded the majority of their valuable talent. So, in light of the holiday season, I figured we can take a look and see what should be on the Phillies wish list this season. One rule before we get started: Let’s Be Realistic. If we want to be ridiculous, we can clearly put “Add Mike Trout/Bryce Harper” to the top of this list. You’re not asking Santa for a Bugatti and expecting to see one parked under the tree on Christmas morning..are you? So this list will be composed strictly of realistic scenarios meant to make the team better in 2016 and beyond. With that in mind, here are the top three items that should be on the Phillies 2016 Wish List:
- Haul For Giles
- Matt Klentak and the Phillies have reportedly been shopping Ken Giles around this offseason. “You mean THE Ken Giles? The stud closer who’s 25 years old and under the team’s control until 2020?” Yes, him. While Giles might seem like an invaluable piece of the Phillies rebuild, it seems like other organizations are willing to over-pay to acquire him via trade. According to Jerry Crasnick. The Astros have been in trade talks involving Giles and Astros’ prospects Lance McCullers and Vincent Vlasquez. While both prospects have been named on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list, McCullers would really be the jewel in this scenario. He was called up last season and went 6-7 with a 3.22 ERA and 9.2 K/9 in 22 starts at just 21 years old. Imagine having McCullers and Nola as the Phillies’ #2 and #3 starting pitchers behind the future ace (we’ll get to that). As for Giles, the history of power pitchers isn’t always pretty. Velocity deteriorates quickly and who knows how that will affect Giles in three or four years when the Phillies are ready to contend? If teams are willing to ship multiple Top 100 prospects in exchange for a closer, a deal should be a no-brainer for Klentak.
- Draft the Ace
- As alluded to above, the Phillies have some nice pitching prospects in the minors and a few good, young arms in the rotation currently. Aaron Nola is the prize arm of the system and posted above average numbers in his rookie season. However, his ceiling seems to be that of a premier #3/solid #2 pitcher on a good staff. That is extremely valuable and time will tell if that evaluation is under or overselling Nola, but right now, that seems to be his potential. Jerad Eikhoff also posted solid numbers in his brief stint with the big club and Jake Thompson dominated in his time with Reading. But, like Nola, these two aren’t viewed as the next Cole Hamels. Enter the 2016 MLB Draft. I won’t pretend to be an expert in college/high school pitchers, but most mock drafts seem to have a consensus top four prospects, all of which are pitchers. AJ Puk is an electrifying 6’7 LHP out of Florida who can hit 99mph on the gun and scouts have compared him to Chris Sale and a baby Randy Johnson. Alec Hansen has also been mentioned in the top pick consideration. Hansen’s scouting report is simple: he’s Puk, except he’s a righty. The 6’7 235lb RHP can also top out at 99mph and, not surprisingly, has been compared to Justin Verlander. If the Phillies select one of these two power arms to anchor a rotation with Nola/Thompson/Eikhoff, we could be looking at one of the better rotations in baseball by 2018.
- Pay Heyward
- I could be breaking my “Be Realistic” rule here since Jason Heyward is one of the most valuable free agents this winter and Klentak has made it clear that the organization will not pursue top market free agents in 2015, but I can’t help it. Signing Heyward would make a lot of sense for the Phillies. At 25 years old, Heyward is young enough that he will still be in the prime of his career by the time the Phillies are contending. He’s also coming off of a career year where he hit .293, 13 HR, 60 RBI and 33 doubles and Heyward already has three Gold Glove awards at right field, a position that has been severely lacking since Jayson Werth left. If Nick Williams proves to be the All-Star caliber outfielder the Phillies hope he can be, a Williams/Heyward outfield combination could anchor this team for a long time. Oh, and by the way, Mike Trout is a free agent in 2020. Who says we can’t afford a Bugatti anyway?