By Theo DeRosa, Sports Talk Philly staff
The Phillies' biggest needs heading into Tuesday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline were generally perceived as being at shortstop, starting pitching, the bullpen and the bench. While those comprise a lot of the team, general manager Matt Klentak and company made steps to fill several of those needs by the deadline. The club acquired infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera from the New York Mets on Friday, picked up catcher Wilson Ramos from Tampa Bay and dealt for lefty reliever Aaron Loup from Toronto on Tuesday. Below, we graded each move the Phils made, as well as their overall grade for the deadline.
Friday, July 27: Phillies acquire INF Asdrúbal Cabrera from the Mets for RHP Franklyn Kilomé
Asdrúbal Cabrera can't play a stellar shortstop like he could early in his career. He's lost a step or two on defense, and at 32, he grades out at -17 defensive runs saved on the season. The Mets played the switch-hitter exclusively at second base this year, as it's likely his correct position on defense. But the Phillies, who played Cabrera at short in his first game with the team, have shown that they hardly seem to care about correct positioning — Scott Kingery at shortstop, Rhys Hoskins in left field.
Where Cabrera's true value lies for the Phillies is the offensive upgrade he represents, as compared to hitters like Jesmuel Valentín, Trevor Plouffe and Mitch Walding — none of whom are now with the big club. Hitting .277 with a .329 on-base percentage and a .488 slugging percentage, Cabrera's 124 wRC+ — 100 is league average — puts him well above par in terms of middle infielders.
Cabrera can spell César Hernández, Kingery and possibly Maikel Franco, letting manager Gabe Kapler deploy a solid infield rotation. The return of J.P. Crawford, who should slot in as the regular shortstop, to the lineup will put the Phils' infield back on track offensively.
The acquisition of Cabrera, who is a free agent after 2018, required the greatest cost for the Phillies. Franklyn Kilomé, who was starting for Double-A Reading, was shipped to New York in a one-for-one swap. Kilomé was starting to plateau in a system deep with pitching prospects, falling below guys like Adonis Medina on the Phils' top prospects list. He owns a 4.21 ERA this year between Reading and the Mets' Double-A affiliate, Binghamton. Kilomé, whose fastball sits in the upper 90s, may seem a steep price for two months of Cabrera, but the former's control issues seem to point toward his becoming a reliever.
The Phillies were willing to pay the price of Kilomé to acquire Cabrera, and it figures to help the team during the stretch run. The Phils got a nice piece for their infield rotation without giving up too much.
Tuesday, July 31: Phillies acquire C Wilson Ramos from Tampa Bay for cash considerations or a player to be named later
The best player the Phillies got at this year's trade deadline came for the smallest cost. But it makes sense that All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos wouldn't have a steep price tag attached. Ramos is currently on the disabled list with a hamstring issue and is slated to return in mid-August, although according to The Athletic's Matt Gelb, the Phillies aren't sure if he'll be active in August.
The Phillies aren't sure if Wilson Ramos will be active before Sept. 1. Matt Klentak said the Phillies took on most of his salary and the return "won't be heavy."— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 31, 2018
Now, he'll be returning to bolster a Phillies lineup that has underperformed, as a whole, this season.
Ramos, hitting .297/.346/.488 this season, has the seventh-best Wins Above Replacement mark this season for any catcher, per Fangraphs. His offensive value is eighth-highest among all catchers, and his defensive value is in the top 30 (Jorge Alfaro ranks first).
Ramos figures to receive the bulk of the playing time at catcher once healthy. Alfaro should be his backup, and it's unclear if Andrew Knapp will remain on the major-league roster. Knapp has played first before, and Alfaro's cannon arm could fit at first, third or a corner outfield spot in a pinch.
There's no way of knowing who the player to be named later will be, if the Rays decide on that route instead of cash, so it's hard to grade the return for Ramos. But the player is not among the Phillies' top 30 prospects, as reported, so it seems to be a low-risk deal for the Phillies. The upside is high — the Phils acquired an All-Star upgrade at one of their weaker positions — and with such a low cost, the deal is nothing but good for the Phils.
Tuesday, July 31: Phillies acquire LHP Aaron Loup from Toronto for RHP Jacob Waguespack
The Phils got the lefty reliever that was needed and rumored in Toronto veteran left-hander Aaron Loup, acquired Tuesday for minor-league righty Jacob Waguespack.
Loup, 30, has a 4.54 ERA that belies a fairly decent season. His FIP (fielding-independent pitching) mark is 3.61, showing that Loup has had a little bit of bad luck this year. Loup boasts a high strikeout rate, with 42 Ks in 35 2/3 innings this season. The lefty has been with Toronto since he first came up in 2012.
For the Phillies, the acquisition of Loup points to a lack of trust in inconsistent lefty Adam Morgan, who has a 4.76 ERA and a 4.92 FIP. Loup holds lefties to a .690 OPS, but that number balloons to .945 against right-handers. So Loup should mainly be deployed as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.
Waguespack, 24, has appeared in 14 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season after seven games in Reading. He started all seven games in Double-A but just eight of the 14 Triple-A contests. The righty has a combined ERA of 4.68 this season with 79 strikeouts in 82 2/3 innings. Waguespack was near the back end of Phillies top 30 prospect lists, not appearing on some. He profiles as a reliever.
All in all, the Phils landed Loup for a fairly cheap price, as Waguespack wasn't beating down the door to the majors. The lefty should fit into the bullpen well, either alongside or in place of Morgan. Loup is no Felipe Vázquez or Andrew Miller, but he can be a reliable left-hander for the bullpen.
Overall assessment: The Phillies managed to patch three of the four biggest holes ailing the team. They didn't land a starting pitcher, but they improved the bench and bullpen, and upgraded at catcher for the stretch run. Considering this was done without parting with any major prospects, it's hard to see this trade deadline as anything but a solid job by Klentak, Andy MacPhail and co., and a win for the Phillies.
Overall grade: A