On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Phillies announced that outfielder Andrew McCutchen will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL during Monday’s game against the San Diego Padres. McCutchen’s absence leaves the Phillies in an unenviable situation as it pertains to center field. Philadelphia was already down Odubel Herrera, who could be suspended following his arrest for suspected domestic violence. With McCutchen out, the Phillies will now turn to plan C, in prospect and former first-round selection Adam Haseley.
To be certain, Haseley has the chance to make the spot his own. Though Philadelphia has a pedestrian farm system, he is considered one of the best prospects in the organization. Haseley’s above-average speed should permit him to cover enough ground in center, while his somewhat awkward swing has produced enough results throughout his minor-league days to envision him hitting for league-average marks in the majors.
But say Haseley doesn’t hit the ground running, and instead scuffles. Then what will the Phillies do? Our seasoned, educated, sophisticated guess would be: “look outside the organization.” So, with eight weeks until the trade deadline, we decided to name names on outfielders the Phillies may target before the calendar flips to August.
Below you’ll find eight potential scenarios, ordered in perceived impact. Remember that this is more art than science.
Sometimes, the answer is just across the state. Starling Marte is either under- or overrated, depending on the judge. We vote underrated. He’s a high-grade defense who has consistently been a league-average or better hitter throughout his career. If you go by Wins Above Replacement, he’s been worth at least 3.5 wins in each of his full seasons except one — 2017, when he was hampered by injury and a drug-related suspension. Marte is a great value, as he’s under contract for $24 million over the next two seasons. Nonetheless, if the Pirates like their outfield depth enough, they could begin shopping Marte around to gauge potential returns. He would seemingly represent the best realistic acquisition out there for the Phillies — the question is whether they would have enough in their prospect warchest to get a deal done.
The Phillies already made one trade with the Mariners recently, acquiring Jay Bruce over the weekend. Presumably if Mitch Haniger or Mallex Smith were available at a realistic price, they would’ve been the ones heading to Philadelphia. It never hurts to ask one last time, though, and Haniger would certainly give the Phillies another middle-of-the-order stick. Smith, on the other hand, is best cast as a fourth outfielder whose speed atones for some underlying shakiness.
We’re throwing Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill together on here despite a lot of uncertainty. We’re not inclined to think the Cardinals would move either of them — why would they when Marcell Ozuna is a free agent at season’s end and there’s no sense relying upon Dexter Fowler at this point in time? Add in that the Cardinals should contend throughout the rest of the season, and there’s not enough overlap between the strengths and weaknesses of the two rosters to find a deal that works. Some other longshot candidates who aren’t likely to become realistic targets include Ender Inciarte and Kevin Kiermaier. Throw Derek Fisher in there too if you’d like.
How about one more tandem to complete the hat trick? We’re pairing Adam Jones and Jarrod Dyson even though they have different profiles. Jones is the better hitter, but also a markedly worse defender in center — something the Phillies brass knows, as they tried trading for him last year and shared time together with the Orioles. Dyson, conversely, is a speed-and-D platoon outfielder who would be doing well to maintain his 90 OPS+. Each of the two are free agents after the season, so neither should cost too much.
There’s no telling if the Nationals will approach the deadline like sellers. Even if they do, would they be able to find a taker for Adam Eaton? He’s prone to missing time; is a better defensive fit in a corner than in center; and hasn’t hit like he usually does so far this year. If Eaton is beginning to trend down — and it’s at least possible — then the two club options remaining on his contract go from valuable to nonfactors. The next month-plus should clear up the picture.
Kevin Pillar has already been traded once this season, from the Blue Jays to the Giants. The change in coast hasn’t inspired him to reach his old, modest offensive standards. Any team employing Pillar isn’t doing so for his bat, however, but rather his glove. If that’s all that matters, then you can nominate Billy Hamilton, Juan Lagares, Delino DeShields Jr., Keon Broxton, and Adam Engel for consideration here as well. There isn’t that much difference between them.
How about an upside play? Manuel Margot hasn’t yet lived up to his promise as — well, the west-coast Starling Marte. He’s also starting less often as of late, as the Padres have turned to Wil Myers in center to give themselves as much offensive potential as possible. Margot is only 24 and is under team control through the 2022 season. But it would be understandable if the Phillies would prefer to acquire someone who feels like more of a sure thing — even if they come with a lower ceiling.
Considering Leonys Martin almost died last year, we’re going to cut him some slack for his substandard overall numbers. It is worth noting he’s performed better against right-handed pitchers this season, and would be better cast in a platoon role. Martin is a free agent at season’s end, so Cleveland probably wouldn’t ask for much in return if they go into seller mode.