Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. started the off-season off slow but in the past days he traded for Ben Revere and Michael Young on the heels of a rumored deal (that fell apart) for Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
As we talked about Tuesday, Amaro isn't done, either. He still needs a starter and relief pitcher, and the offense is still short a corner outfielder. It appears that he tried to address one of those concerns, at least according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, who wrote that there were talks of a trade with the Cubs, who would send left fielder Alfonso Soriano and salary relief to the Phillies in exchange for outfielder Domonic Brown.
While there is no indication of how serious the talks got, or whether or not Amaro had any interest in trading the 25-year-old Brown, the fact that this was even talked about is a bit of a doozy. Now, I'd like to think that Amaro and Co. are smart enough not to trade a young, developing hitter for a declining veteran, but crazier things have happened.
First, acquiring Soriano, while foolish in it's own right (more on that in a moment), doesn't make any sense if it costs you one of your other starting outfielders. You typically deal from a position of strength, so between this and the Nate Schierholtz move, the Phillies are robbing from Peter to pay Paul. If Soriano joined the fold, they'd still need a right fielder. And unless they want to move Soriano to right field to allow Darin Ruf to play left field, then they are still short a body.
Secondly, what do the Phillies expect out of Soriano? He'll be 37 years old when the season starts, can't play defense, and is the owner of a robust .800 OPS since 2008. He's got power (33 homers in 2012), but that's it. He can't hit for average, he has a lousy on-base percentage, he can't run like he used to, and – lest you forgot – he'll be 37 when next season. Even if the Cubs covered the majority of his salary, there isn't much value in a player like him, especially when you consider the cost.
Which brings us to Brown. Again. I feel like I write about Brown every week, but it's for good reason. Brown, for those who don't know, was once considered to be one of the best prospects in the game, and has less than one full season in the majors under his belt. Oh, and he's cheap and figures to only get better.
While most Brown detractors will point at his inability to really “earn” a spot on the team so far, and his unimpressive .703 OPS in 147 games, I would again like to remind everyone that his OPS is 13 points higher than Mike Schmidt's over the course of his first 145 games. Brown could be a bust, but he could also be a stud. The point is that the Phillies won't know until they give him the opportunity to prove it, one way or the other.
Ultimately, I can't see this trade happening, and ESPN's Jayson Stark has hinted as much. And unless their game plan is to field the oldest team in the game, the Phillies would be wise to hang onto Brown.