3 Philadelphia Phillies trades to make team a playoff contender

Philadelphia Phillies
Mar 13, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; A general view of Philadelphia Phillies hats laying in the dugout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t made the playoffs since 2011 and with the MLB trade deadline approaching, pressure is mounting on the front office to make significant moves that will snap the club’s playoff drought.

There is renewed hope in Philadelphia. The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reported the Phillies are willing to exceed the $210 million luxury tax threshold this year, which would put them in a position to make marquee additions by the July 30 deadline.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Phillies, check out #RingTheBell rumors, rankings, and news here.

With that in mind, let’s examine three trades that could help the Phillies reach the MLB Playoffs.

Craig Kimbrel traded to Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies, Craig Kimbrel
Jul 12, 2021; Denver, CO, USA; National League pitcher Craig Kimbrel of the Chicago Cubs throws a football during workouts before the 2021 MLB All Star Home Run Derby. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies face a dilemma. They need to acquire premium talent, but executive Dave Dombrowski is unlikely to part with top prospects Mick Abel nor Bryson Stott. That limits the front office’s ability to compete with teams that have far deeper prospect pools, but a Craig Kimbrel trade isn’t impossible.

  • Philadelphia Phillies trade: 3B Alec Bohm, C Rickardo Perez (PHI’s No. 19 prospect)
  • Chicago Cubs trade: Craig Kimbrel

Alec Bohm has been a major disappointment this season after finishing as a 2020 NL Rookie of the Year finalist last season. The 24-year-old isn’t hitting for power (.099 ISO, .342 SLG) and is struggling to reach base consistently (.297 OPS). But his feel for hitting is still there and with the Cubs open to trading Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, Bohm could be the long-term replacement and is under contract through 2027.

There’s some risk here for the Phillies, given how much contract control they lose by trading Bohm. But his regression this year is alarming and the front office could address the hot corner in the winter. Right now, this club desperately needs bullpen help (4.64 ERA) and Craig Kimbrel (0.51 ERA, 15.54 K/9) is the best closer in MLB. He would solve Philadelphia’s issues in the 9th inning through 2022.

Merrill Kelly bolsters back-end rotation

Philadelphia Phillies, Merrill Kelly
Jul 18, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly (29) throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia can feel confident in two of its starting pitchers, Zach Wheeler is an ace and Aaron Nola still boasts the talent to be a front-line starter. Behind the duo, Zach Eflin (3.86 xERA, 18.8 percent K-BB rate) is a capable mid-rotation arm. But the Phillies need a dependable starter at the back of the rotation.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks receive: OF Mickey Moniak (PHI’s No. 11 prospect) and LHP Cristopher Sanchez (PHI’s No. 21 prospect)

Merrill Kelly isn’t a flashy addition, but the 32-year-old righty eats innings and will deliver some quality starts. While a 4.46 ERA and a 14.8 percent K-BB rate aren’t outstanding, he is really settling in as of late. Kelly owns a 2.56 ERA across his last six starts, holding opponents to a .224 batting average and holding just a 0.93 WHIP.

Moniak and Sanchez are both expendable for Philadelphia and give the Diamondbacks two young talents who could contribute in the majors fairly quickly. Plus, the Phillies would hold a $5.25 million team option for Kelly entering the 2022 season.

Philadelphia Phillies land Starling Marte

Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies rumors
Jul 21, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Miami Marlins center fielder Starling Marte (6) reacts after scoring a run against the Washington Nationals during the fourth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Once Starling Marte turned down the Miami Marlins contract extension, trading him became a foregone conclusion. He’s one of the most coveted trade candidates in 2021 and it comes as no surprise that the All-Star center fielder is a Phillies’ target.

  • Philadelphia Phillies trade: OF Johan Rojas (STL’s No. 7 prospect), SS Jamari Baylor (PHI’s No. 15 prospect)
  • Miami Marlins trade: Starling Marte

Marte would be a phenomenal addition for two reasons. First, the 32-year-old is playing some absurd defense in center field. He’s credited with a 12.2 UZR/150 on the season, still displaying impressive range and a strong arm. Just as important, Marte (.293/.392/.446, 135 wRC+) would fit in nicely atop the Phillies’ lineup.

With these three moves, the Philadelphia Phillies address some of their biggest needs and still keep their top prospects. Plus, outside of Kimbrel, they avoid any significant long-term financial commitments that will limit their spending flexibility this winter.