Editor’s Note: After this article went to press, it was announced that Nate Schierholtz and Seth Rosin in addition to Tommy Joseph. It was also announced that the Dodgers would send a player to be named later in the Shane Victorino deal.
The Philadelphia Phillies have begun the retooling process. It could hardly be called a rebuilding process following the six year, 144 million dollar extension they gave to Cole Hamels. For the time being, the Phillies have more than 90 million committed to their top three pitchers and Ryan Howard. The extension began wide speculation that the Phillies would begin to trade some of their veterans in order to rearrange salary.
The trading began this morning when the Phillies dealt Shane Victorino to the Dodgers in exchange for reliever Josh Lindblom and pitching prospect Ethan Martin. Lindblom gives the Phillies a pitcher who is ready to help out their bullpen now. The Phillies bullpen has been in shambles for most of the season as Jonathan Papelbon and others have struggled in the late innings.
MLBtraderumors.com is also reporting that the Phillies have traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for minor league catcher/first baseman Tommy Joseph. The trade is not official yet, so it is unclear as to whether anything more will be going the Phillies way. Pence became expendable largely because he is going into his final year of arbitration. He could earn anywhere between 13 and 15 million in his last year of arbitration.
Victorino will likely play left field for the Dodgers and could also give them a much needed boost on top of the order. It has been a down year for him so far, but he is still hitting .261/.324/.401 and has more than 20 steals. In the past, he has been an excellent all-around player with strong on base skills. Furthermore, since he has played mostly center field, he will likely give the Dodgers outfield defense a boost.
Hunter Pence will likely slide right into right field for the Giants and if Joseph is the only prospect going the other way, it is a strong deal for the Giants. However, Pence is not necessarily the all-star level performer that people thought he would be. The counting numbers are strong for Pence (17 HR, 59 R, 59 RBI), but his .784 OPS is not that strong for a corner outfielder. Furthermore, his fielding (-7.2 UZR) has deteriorated over the past couple of seasons.
If the Phillies have anything it is a wealth of outfielders. This allows the Phillies to call up top prospect Domonic Brown and also allows them to play John Mayberry Jr. full time. Whether that is the outfield alignment they go into the 2013 season with remains to be seen. The Phillies did cut about 20 million dollars on their 2013 payroll with these moves. It could allow them to keep together their three aces into the future.
The Giants and Dodgers are both poised to battle it out over the last two months of the season. The Dodgers have added two bullpen arms and two key players to their everyday lineup. Rumors are circulating that they are still working on getting Ryan Dempster from the Cubs. If that happens before the deadline they could put themselves to be the favorites down the stretch in the NL West. The Giants hadn’t done much (adding Marco Scutaro), but the addition of Pence is significant in a lineup that sometimes struggles to score runs.
As for Joseph, he was very strong in advanced A a year ago, but has been fairly pedestrian this year in AA. He has spent more time behind the plate this year than at first base and that is probably going to be the position where he lands. With Carlos Ruiz in his early to mid thirties, he will battle with Sebastian Valle to see who will be the catcher of the future in Philadelphia. Ethan Martin has been solid this season in AA for the Dodgers, so he adds one more good young arm to the Phillies system.