Let’s get nuts.
The Yankees are stuck with an underachieving club that lacks lineup balance, athleticism and a true No. 2 behind ace Gerrit Cole.
The Phillies are stuck with a core that has no idea how to win, bad defense and no way out of a top-heavy roster with little financial flexibility after blowing close to a billion dollars on players over the last four years. Philadelphia is watching the most mediocre team money can buy.
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Here’s an idea for a six-player blockbuster trade that may look over the top, but could be exactly what each team needs to change its collective DNA and reach its ceiling.
Yankees get: 1B Rhys Hoskins, SS Didi Gregorius, SP Aaron Nola
Phillies get: SS Gleyber Torres, OF Clint Frazier, SP Deivi Garcia
Would both teams do it? I think there’s a better chance of that occurring than you might think. Here’s why each side (Yankees’ Brian Cashman and Phillies’ Dave Dombrowski) could pull the trigger on a blockbuster like this.
Why the Yankees would do it
Hoskins is their kind of offensive player, and first base remains a hole: Hoskins represents how Cashman’s best offenses have played for years: Power and patience. Since entering the league in August 2017, Hoskins has hit 103 home runs and walked 289 times. Here’s a full list of players to reach those marks since the start of 2017: Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Christian Yelich, Mookie Betts, Alex Bregman and Hoskins. For the first time since Mark Teixeira declined, the Yankees could have a long-term answer at this position.
Lineup balance is a must, and Gregorius’ absence has been felt: The Yankees have missed Gregorius since letting him go. The lineup is too right-handed without his lefty power stick. The clubhouse and dugout don’t seem as loose. Every team has a glue guy. Gregorius was this team’s glue guy. Although he’s been on the IL, Gregorius is on a rehab assignment and almost back. He’d be a welcome addition, and an angry fan base would love the move.
Buying low on Nola could be a steal, in multiple ways: This could be the smartest part of the deal for Cashman. Nola was arguably a top-10 pitcher in the sport from 2018-2021. So far in 2021? Not so much. Command is gone. His ERA is north of four. But we’re talking about a pitcher with a track record, swing-and-miss stuff and one of the most team-friendly (owed just $31.5M over the next two years) contracts in the sport.
Why the Phillies would do it
Sell now, hope for later: Moving on from Hoskins and Nola now and banking on talented, but mostly unproven talent for later would be a high-profile sell off by the Phillies. Dombrowski should (and likely would) not call it that. The Phillies would say the right things. But this would be a move for 2022 and 2023 more than the present, especially if the 22-year-old Garcia develops into a frontline starter. That’s OK.
Reshape baseball’s worst defense: I’m not trying to present Torres (who actually would be better at second base than shortstop) or Frazier (an adventure in LF) as future Gold Glove winners. But change can be good, and the Phillies need to change how this defense looks. If a deal like this went down, the 2022 Phillies infield could look like this:
1B: Alec Bohm
SS: Bryson Stott
3B: Jean Segura
And with Andrew McCutchen (who’s play is fading by the month) set to hit free agency in the fall, Frazier can be the long-term left field solution in Philadelphia.
Buying low on Torres could be brilliant: Garcia’s upside is immense, but this is the key for the Phillies. Not too long ago, Torres was talked about as a future MVP candidate. But his play has fallen off (both offensively and defensively) since the start of the 2020 season. Is that a concern for the jewel of a deal? Sure. But let’s keep it all in perspective here. Torres is in his age-24 season. He has 68 career home runs and an OPS+ of 120. Here’s a full list of middle infielders (second baseman or shortstops) to match or exceed that in MLB history: Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripken Jr., Carlos Correa, Vern Stephens, Hanley Ramirez, and Nomar Garciaparra.
Is Torres likely closer to, say, Ramirez than Rodriguez or Ripken? Yes, of course. But landing a Ramirez-ish hitter with years of team control left, shedding salary, and shaking up the core of a middling team feels like a move Dombrowski would have to make.
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Joe Giglio may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.