Judge, Seager, Bogaerts: In Bizarro World, One Could Have Been a Phillie

Aaron Judge, Corey Seager, Xander Bogaerts.

In an alternate reality where opposing general managers are impatient and less logical, the Phillies may have been able to land one or two of them.

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It was just a few short years ago when the Phillies were connected to the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox in various trade rumors for Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee. Obviously, none of those three teams gave in and traded away a young star for a high-priced veteran and they're now reaping the rewards. Judge is the sure-fire AL Rookie of the Year and a legit MVP candidate. Seager was last season's NL Rookie of the Year and is a legit MVP candidate this season. Bogaerts is a .306 hitter the last three years at the toughest defensive position.

So for fun - actually, the exact opposite of fun - let's take a look back at what could have been.

July 2015: Hamels for Judge

With a great bullpen and a weak starting pitching staff, the 2015 Yankees went 87-75 and lost in the AL wild-card game. 

On the day Rosenthal reported this, the Yankees were 54-42 and 5½ games up in the AL East. Perhaps they didn't think they needed to risk the future for one more arm in Hamels, even though they'd have had Hamels under contract for four seasons after that one.

At that time, Judge had just been promoted to Triple A and wasn't faring all that well, ultimately finishing with a .224/.308/.373 line in his first experience at that level.

Look, as recently as a year ago, Judge was not some can't-miss prospect. Last year at this time, Baseball America ranked him the No. 42 prospect in baseball. 

He's a giant with tremendous power, but he swung and missed a ton in the minors and there were questions whether he'd be able make enough contact to be a valuable player in the majors. Obviously, he's answered those concerns with a dominant rookie year. At the All-Star break, Judge leads the majors with 30 homers, a .691 slugging percentage and 1.139 OPS, and he leads the AL with 61 walks and a .448 on-base percentage.

July 2014: Hamels for Seager and more
A summer before, the Phillies were shopping Hamels, Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett in addition to Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon. (They were never able to deal Lee, Burnett or Howard.)

Hamels was regarded as the potential prize of that year's trade deadline, and the Phillies' initial asking price for him was astronomical. According to Bob Nightengale, then of USA Today, the Phils asked the Dodgers for three top prospects for Hamels: Seager, left-hander Julio Urias and centerfielder Joc Pederson.

Look, any team is within its right to ask for the moon. Negotiations tend to start with a lopsided offer before ending up somewhere closer to acceptable. A haul of Seager, Urias and Pederson would have been the best return any team had gotten in a trade since the Expos' Bartolo Colon heist.

The Dodgers were never interested in trading Seager, or Urias for that matter. A year later when the teams again were in Hamels trade talks, the Phillies had reportedly adjusted their expectations to a package of as many as six Dodgers prospects not named Seager or Urias. That didn't work, either, and the package the Phils eventually received from Texas for Hamels was similar to that request - they got five prospects, but not the Rangers' top guys like Nomar Mazara or Joey Gallo.

2014 and 2015: Hamels for Bogaerts
"Don't think in 30 years of covering baseball I've ever seen a team (the Phillies) spend so much time scouting another team (the Red Sox) and not pull the trigger on a deal."

That line came in August 2014 from longtime Red Sox writer Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

This one is pretty interesting because back in 2014, Bogaerts and centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. were not the players they've developed into. Bogaerts was chasing a ton of pitches and after 2014, was a .241/.299/.363 hitter in exactly 162 games. There were also questions whether Bogaerts would be a shortstop or third baseman long term.

Bradley hadn't yet reconfigured his swing and was finishing up his second straight sub-.200 season to start his major-league career.

Instead of trading for Hamels in the summer of 2014, though, the Red Sox revamped their team by trading away Jon Lester, John Lackey and Andrew Miller.

In the summer of 2015, the Red Sox had a quiet trade deadline.

We'll never know how close the Phillies were to acquiring Bogaerts, but 2014 would have been their best chance. By the time the 2015 trade deadline came around, he was much more solidified in his role in Boston, hitting .316 on his way to a Silver Slugger award.

Oh, what could have been.

Here's one last (hilarious) one from a few years ago, though this fella' hasn't tweeted in over two years.

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