This morning, Matt Klentak has made yet another improvement for the Phillies 2017 roster, acquiring right handed pitcher Clay Buchholz from Boston. Now, this deal would be much more exciting if the year were 2013 and Buchholz were coming off his age-29 second all-star caliber season, but he isn’t. This trade isn’t bringing in the ace that will be atop the Phillies rotation for their next great playoff run. In fact, this trade most likely isn’t even bringing in the fifth starter for the next World Series appearance. At 32 years old, Clay Buchholz is well past his prime; he made 21 starts in 2016 and appeared in 16 other games out of the bullpen; he finished the season with a 4.78 ERA.
However, it is important to note the real reasoning behind this move as it relates to every single acquisition made by Matt Klentak over the past few months.
On a team with 1 veteran starting pitcher and a handful of sub-24 guys, some of which aren’t even prepared to be major league starters yet, there is some value is bringing in a former all-star who can bring his experience to the locker room and help some of the kids mature. There have also been instances of revived careers by players who are in new sceneries, and perhaps Clay will be able to fix what happened in his horrendous 2016 and build upon it for a solid first season in Philadelphia.
If Buchholz does significantly improve in his early stages as a Phillie, he becomes some pretty valuable trade bait for a playoff contender. The Phillies don’t expect to be contenders next season, and they will want to be sellers at the trade deadline–a rejuvenated Clay Buchholz will be a big prize for teams looking to compete for a title. And if there are enough suitors looking for that last piece of a rotation, the price may be higher than the team (and fans) realize as of right now.
Even if Buchholz is a complete flop and does not even bring interest at the trade deadline, then all the team loses in a lower-level prospect in 2B Josh Tobias, who is 24 years old and has not played above A, and the $13.5 million dollars that the ex-Red Sock is owed for the upcoming year. The team wasn’t going to pay that money out anyway, so why not take another low-risk, high reward player that could bring you a nice return come July 31.
Since the end of another playoff-less season in Philadelphia, Matt Klentak has kept fans on their toes with acquisition after acquisition of veteran arms and bats. When formulating an opinion on the moves and the GM himself, it is important to keep in mind one aspect of these deals that each has in common with one another: one-year contracts. The Phillies have none of the veterans locked up past 2017, which gives the team a great opportunity to evaluate each of them before making a decision as to whether or not to resign an older player to a multi-year contract, let him walk in free agency, or ship him off to a contender for a prospect haul. The flexibility that the moves have provided for the organization are more than just trading for a washed up veteran.
The Clay Buchholz trade isn’t going to be one which influences the future of the franchise in a significant way; but, the many different transactions of the same principle occurring throughout the offseason could just expedite the Phillies’ rebuilding process more than we know.
Photo by terren in Virginia (via Flickr)