While everyone in Philadelphia is locked-in on the free agency market, in regards to the decision of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, other options to add premier talent begin to stand out on other teams.
As NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury recently noted, the Phillies could look to bolster their starting rotation via trade. This makes sense, given the Phillies' underwhelming rotation in 2018 other than Aaron Nola, as well as the available talent out on other teams. But, what if there was a cant-miss opportunity to acquire a lineup-changing bat, similar to one the Phillies missed out on last offseason?
Here is a data table with two players. One player has his 2018 statistics and the other player their 2017 statistics. Can you guess who these players are?
These two players are very similar in a number of different statistical categories and both play corner outfield positions. Still can’t figure it out? Well here let’s reveal the mystery players.
The reason why these two are being compared is because, last offseason, the Miami Marlins traded Christian Yelich to Milwaueke Brewers. Yelich went on to help carry the Brewers to NLCS, on the back of his MVP-caliber season. This stung the Phillies, who did nothing more than "take a flier" to acquire Yelich from their division rivals. Now, the Phillies could have a chance to redeem themselves if they fail to land Harper or Machado: acquire Mitch Haniger.
Most Phillies fans may not know much of Haniger, having played in Seattle and Arizona during his first three years in the majors. But, this past year he really performed well for the Mariners and was considered by bWAR standards the best player on the 89-win club with a 6.2 WAR. Given the reports now that Seattle is considering a rebuild or retool, they may look to move their blooming corner outfield bat.
Looking at Haniger compared to Yelich this year, would make them obviously difficult to compare given the type of year Yelich had. From these stats above, Yelich and Haniger had very similar, if not near identical numbers in the season prior to a trade or potential trade in the case of Haniger. It is hard to speculate a meteoric rise for Haniger in 2019, as Yelich made in from 2017 to 2018. But, it is possible that Haniger could not be far away from competing at a MVP level.
For the Phillies, the opportunity might not be there right now; the Mariners seem to not be ready to deal Haniger. However, as the offseason progresses, and when they decide whether or not to go into full "fire-sale" mode, expect the Phillies to show significant interest in Haniger.
Haniger would garner one of the largest hauls of prospects in comparison to any other player on their team. The Phillies have the prospects and players to put together a competitive offer that should entice the Mariners into moving Haniger later this offseason.