Phillies trade ideas with injured Bryce Harper

Phillies trade ideas with injured Bryce Harper

Blake Snell became part of the Phillies’ unfortunate legend when his fastball broke Bryce Harper’s left thumb Saturday night in San Diego.

Give yourself a star if you remember that it was Washington Nationals rookie left-hander John Lannan, in his major league debut, who broke Chase Utley’s right hand with a pitch in July 2007.

Give yourself five stars if you remember Steve Trachsel of the Chicago Cubs was the guy who broke Scott Rolen’s right forearm with a pitch in September 1996.

In the latter two, the Phillies rebounded well from a tough break. Pat Gillick acquired Tad Iguchi from Kenny Williams and the guilt-ridden White Sox – Williams, then the Sox’s general manager, felt bad that his club sent the highly respected Gillick a stoned pitcher (Freddy Garcia) in the winter previous – and Iguchi held the fort well at second base before Utley could come back and help the Phillies win the NL East.

Rolen won the NL Rookie of the Year award with a fantastic season in 1997, but his eligibility for the award would have ended had he not been hit by Trachsel’s pitch that season, putting him at 130 at bat.

The Phillies — from clubhouse to front office — must handle the loss of Harper with equal aplomb if they are to salvage their season and break a 10-year playoff drought, the longest in the NL.

There is still a certain fluidity in this situation. Harper is due to undergo a new medical evaluation early this week. A simple pause might bring him back for the stretch. A more complicated break, which would require surgery and the pinning of the break, would hold him back longer. Second baseman Jean Segura recently broke his right index finger. The injury could keep him out for up to 12 weeks because the fracture was “out of place” and required pinning.

However long Harper’s absence, his loss puts the Phillies in survival mode. Their starting rotation is somewhere between solid and very good. The bullpen has been very good lately, although it’s fair to wonder how sustainable it will be. Kyle Schwarber was a June savior and Rhys Hoskins also carried a big load during the month. But if the Phils are going to survive the loss of roster alpha dog Harper, they’ll need more Nick Castellanos and JT Realmuto, who have both shown signs of warming up, and others.

Like Gillick in 2007, the front office needs to get to work here and keep this team from dying on the vine. That’s not to say he wasn’t already working hard to improve the roster. Dave Dombrowski signed a four-year contract here. Now he might end up staying longer – he’s a sophomore and the Nashville project he’s tied to isn’t moving fast – but the simple fact is he didn’t come here to mess around and supervise a long, slow climb. . He’s come for the playoffs — now — and his desire matches that of ownership. Granted, Dombrowski, Sam Fuld, Jorge Velandia, and the rest of the front office have already crafted a trade delay strategy. The bullpen and starting pitching depth might have led this list a week ago. A central defender or an outfield defense was probably there. Those needs haven’t gone away, but they now have company.

With Harper out, the Phils are going to need a bat either at DH or in the outfield. A left-handed bat would be nice, but production, on either side, is key.

You can bet Dombrowski and his firm have already touched base with the Washington Nationals, who could move Josh Bell or Nelson Cruz. Staying in Eastern Newfoundland, Jesus Aguilar could be attractive if the Miami Marlins sell. Baltimore could move Trey Mancini or Anthony Santander. The Royals could trade Whit Merrifield or Andrew Benintendi. The Cubs could take care of an interesting package consisting of outfielder Ian Happ and reliever David Robertson. Ditto for Arizona, who could move outfielder David Peralta and reliever Mark Melancon, who has struggled this season but led the majors with 39 saves in 2021. Pittsburgh continues to have a great trade chip in center fielder. Brian Reynolds, although he would probably be expensive. Young talent.

Oakland’s Frankie Montas and Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo are top pitchers, but those prices will also be high. Even if the Phils need to improve to prevent that $230 million investment from playing golf in October, they need to protect Mick Abel and Andrew Painter, who could thrive in the midst of a starting rotation in Philadelphia in a few years. Griff McGarry, Ben Brown and potential closer Francisco Morales are also top prospects. Would the Phillies part ways with them in the right deal? The Phils have next-level catching depth with Rafael Marchan and Logan O’Hoppe. They would displace Marchan but their rivals would likely prefer O’Hoppe, who continues to break through. Can the Phils afford to use O’Hoppe as a trade chip with Realmuto showing signs of decline? Difficult decision. For an infallible World Series team, probably. For a team that squeaks in the playoffs…tough call.

It’s popular to the point of cliché to mention that the Atlanta Braves suffered a blow with the loss of Ronald Acuña Jr. (and others) last year and the rest of their roster, players like Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley, along with general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who redone the outfield at that deadline, stepped up to save the season and help rally the club to a World Series title. The Phillies know all about how the 2021 Braves handled adversity. They will need similar contributions from their existing core and similar help from the front office to survive the loss of Harper. A quick healing of the left thumb would also help.

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