Phillies: 2021’s Trade Rumors Addressed


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Opportunity is the vehicle carrying the passenger known as a rumor to the Philadelphia Phillies faithful. So, when managing partner John Middleton bemoaned the $145 million from last year’s losses, he opened the door for other franchises, agents and writers to speculate or inquire about desired pieces on the Fightins’ roster.


Middleton’s Comments:

The Phillies front office is a tight-lipped unit except for their typical offseason posturing: today’s financial shortcomings. Basically, they give the competition no reason for concern, while they stealthily negotiate for free agents with their reps, who rarely leak those contacts. Is it a private matter?    


“Rumors aren't interested in the unsensational story; rumors don't care what's true.” – John Irving

From the depths of despair, locals convinced themselves and others of a bleak winter of nothingness because the red pinstripes weren’t trying to win. But Middleton hired Dave Dombrowski, and now the Phils are going to rise to the heights of happiness by spending stupid money besides re-signing JT Realmuto.     

To paraphrase Middleton’s quote, it was about spending a little bit stupidly. And it became stupid money virtually overnight, but fans defined that as unlimited spending to plug every hole on the red pinstripes.    

As for the 2020-21 offseason, Middleton basically projected a slight payroll drop. However, restless natives concluded not pursuing Realmuto and Didi Gregorius, plus they expected unacceptable improvements elsewhere on the team.

Rumors come primarily from two sources: clubs and agents. To promote their client, these representatives embellish basic information to their media connections, who –they know– will run with it. Ergo, a due-diligence effort can become a potential swap for their player.      

Organizations stir up trade activity for a star they want to move by creating a contrived suitor. Basically, they want to speed up the process and/or increase their return, and it’s even better if these general managers have more than one or two interested parties.   

The scribes then amplify the rumor to draw readers to their articles. But if the rumor isn’t enough, some writers will imagine, for example, how a Phillies ace would fit perfectly into their team’s rotation. Fortunately, it isn’t more than just wishful thinking.      

In Philly, the faithful read or hear about the agent’s or franchise’s rumor, and they finger their worry beads as they unnecessarily fear the worse. And this cycle repeats itself many times during every hot stove league. 

For instance, Jean Segura’s salary is $29.7 million total for two summers. However, when you couple Middleton’s financial woes with an organization needing a second baseman, shortstop or third sacker, you get a bargain for an opportunistic GM. But dealing Segura doesn't work with only Alec Bohm and Scott Kingery for three spots.       

Zack Wheeler’s rumor was a major stretch because the competition would probably want the Phils to pay $10 million per 162: 42.4 percent of his pact. Unfortunately, the Fightins wouldn’t receive an MLB top-100 prospect either. Translation: You need to dump salary, and we’re doing you a “favor.” But who benefits most?                        

A writer of a Los Angeles Dodgers piece imagined a swap for Aaron Nola, and his contract of $11.25 million AAV (average annual value) would be perfect for the World Series victor going forward. And because the Phils can’t supposedly afford a major league roster, anything of value is available at bargain prices.                                

Middleton has fooled scribes and their readers, plus the club is receiving calls from many GMs. However, my favorite is the spawned rumor to acquire Rhys Hoskins because a year ago many fans would gladly have accepted the best offer. But after he rebounded in ‘20, the fan base is now quiet.           

We’re about to find out what the Fightins think about Vince Velasquez because other teams are willing to pay his $3.8-4.8 million if they pick him up in a deal. So, how many locals would give him away for nothing? Those fans, who wanted him in the pen, now want him pruned from the roster.     

Dombrowski’s Chapter:

According to Connor Byrne of MLBTR on October 30, president Andy MacPhail stated, “I don’t expect any big moves in free agency until later in the process.” And since Realmuto will most likely hold out until mid-January, the quote is fitting as an upcoming surprise for the Phillies faithful.           

During his presser, Dombrowski pointed to glowing reports of Realmuto’s popularity: Everybody in the organization wants him to remain in Philly. Now, the competition is down to the Toronto Blue Jays, and one Jays fan believes the Phils can’t afford the All-Star, even though Dombrowski’s pact is for $20 million.  

Dombrowski’s reputation is trading farm-system gems for the last 3-4 solid campaigns of a needed star. To illustrate, he would have been on the receiving end of a Cole Hamels swap in 2015. But Bohm and Spencer Howard are in the Phils’ plans, and the pipeline has little to subtract.                                      

As for big-ticket signings, Dombrowski has notched many in his baseball career. Basically, Realmuto is the only superstar he’d have interest in because other possibilities would be $13 million per annum tops: Gregorius ($13 million), a starter ($13 million) and a closer ($10 million).                           

Dombrowski’s Postseason Record:






Florida Marlins




1 (4-3)

Detroit Tigers




0 (1-8)

Boston Red Sox




1 (4-1)





2 (9-12)

As you can see, Dombrowski made the playoffs in a third of his seasons, and he reached the Fall Classic in almost half of those. And he won twice during those four tries: 4 to 3 and 4 to 1.             

Dombrowski’s Top Draft Picks:

Justin Verlander

Cliff Floyd

Rick Porcello

Josh Beckett

Rondell White

Mark Kotsay

Adrian Gonzalez

Charles Johnson

Cameron Maybin

Andrew Miller

Nicholas Castellanos


Recently, Middleton had pointed out the franchise’s need to draft potential fixtures for the parent club and build a farm system to supply the good guys with mainstays for more than a five-year run of dominance. Translation: Dombrowski is a statement hire.        

To sum up, Dombrowski highlighted catching’s importance and signing free-agent relievers from a large pool of arms. And he revealed that answering questions about Realmuto and late-inning hurlers, so what is ahead to root for? A new Phillies era!    



Phillies vs. Mets for Realmuto in 2021


(Photo: Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA - Red Sox President of Baseball Operations David Dombrowski)