As the trade deadline approaches, the Phillies look to be an interesting team as they could buy or sell—possibly both. It seems obvious that the intent is to move on from certain players—baring they get the right deal. As general manager Matt Klentak echoed the other day, the team will not make a deal for the sake of doing so. However, with a trade yesterday, the Kansas City Royals are showing that they’re going for a division title. The Phillies may have a few pieces that could help the Royals.
The most commonly discussed name for the Phillies is All-Star reliever, Pat Neshek. To this point in the season, Neshek has posted a 1.12 ERA in 40.1 innings pitched. Neshek’s ERA and WAR totals would immediately put him atop the Royals bullpen. And while WAR is probably not the best metric to evaluate relievers, Neshek has clearly been preventing runs this season. Now, the Royals have the seventh-best bullpen ERA in baseball—but if you’re going for a division title, a reliever who can throw in all situations could be the right fit.
Obviously, the team also acquired Brandon Maurer in the deal yesterday, but if the intent is to bolster the bullpen similarly to their back-to-back World Series appearance teams—then it may make sense. Maurer hasn’t been lights out this season, as he currently has a 5.72 ERA. He may be due for some better luck as his FIP and xFIP are significantly better than his ERA at 3.22 and 3.67, respectively.
The Royals currently trail the Cleveland Indians by 1.5 games in the American League Central while owning the second Wild Card spot by one game over the Tampa Bay Rays.
It has also become a common theme in rumors to send Neshek in a package deal with first-baseman Tommy Joseph. The Royals are set at first-base with Eric Hosmer, but the ranks dead last in production from their Designated Hitter position. As of today, Royals designated hitters have produced a .190/.271/.374 triple-slash along with a 67 wRC+ and .278 wOBA. Those are the worst totals in the American League.
If the Royals wanted to add a player like Joseph, he would be an upgrade and could even platoon despite being better against right-handed pitchers—but that’d be up to the manager. While Joseph has just a 94 wRC+ this season, he would be an upgrade to their position along with being cheap and controllable. Joseph’s WAR total, which is -.3 as of now, may improve as his defense has been among the worst in the league.
The Phillies may want to move Joseph to create room for Rhys Hoskins, who most believe is the first-baseman of the future. Hoskins currently has a .282/.376/.561 line in Triple-A to go along with 23 home runs.
Even if this doesn’t happen, I do believe at least Neshek makes sense for the Royals if they’re making a push at the American League Central crown.