The trade of Joaquin Benoit to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday completed Phillies general manager Matt Klentak's flurry of activity during deadline week.
In totality, Klentak traded four rental veterans in Pat Neshek, Howie Kendrick, Jeremy Hellickson and Benoit and got back three right-handed pitching prospects, two left-handed pitching prospects, a major-league outfielder in Hyun Soo Kim and a Single A shortstop. They also received about $1 million in international bonus pool money, which places them in pretty exclusive company leaguewide (see story).
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The highest-upside player the Phillies acquired in the four trades was lefty McKenzie Mills, who came over from Washington in the Kendrick deal. Mills was 12-2 with a 3.01 ERA, 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 1.9 walks in 18 starts with the Nationals' Class A affiliate.
The other players may end up just being organizational depth. It's too difficult to project whether another team's prospect(s) will eventually impact your big-league club until he shows what he's got at Double A or Triple A.
If one or two of the players in their early-20s the Phillies acquired this week pan out, it will have been a job well done by Klentak, who lacked leverage with all four veterans. Neshek, Kendrick, Hellickson and Benoit are all free agents after the season, and there were question marks about three of them. Hellickson and Benoit have underwhelmed this season, and Kendrick missed 61 of the first 100 games with injuries.
The Phillies' getting anything at all in return for Hellickson and Benoit was basically a win.
"If a player's hurt or he's not performing well, it's hard to move him," Klentak said Monday. "I talked about this with Neshek and Howie and Jeremy and I'll say it with Joaquin as well: These guys delivered. We brought them in here to play a role for this team, they did it, and now they all find themselves in playoff races for the next two months."
(They "delivered" in different ways. Neshek and Kendrick were obviously much more productive when on the field than Hellickson and Benoit.)
It's been an interesting month of July across baseball. Big names like Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray and J.D. Martinez were traded. Rentals were moved. A lot of relievers were acquired by their old teams - David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Joe Smith, David Hernandez, Jeremy Jeffress.
The Phillies didn't have a big fish capable of bringing back a strong return, and it looked a lot like a buyer's market anyway.
"Every market is a little bit different," Klentak said after the deadline passed. "The activity and the phone calls were pretty heavy, really from that first Monday coming out of the All-Star Break. It was pretty consistent. I never felt like we were at a disadvantage. I do think that teams, especially early, were targeting players with multiple years of control, not the rentals. But as you've seen over the last 24-48 hours, obviously the rentals were moved as well."
The Phillies can still make trades in August but the process is more difficult. To be traded, a player must first be placed on waivers. If he is claimed by another team, the Phillies would be able to negotiate a trade with only that one team. If the player goes unclaimed, the Phillies would be able to trade him anywhere.
The thing is, young and inexpensive players like Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Cameron Rupp would surely be claimed because there would be no risk for the claiming team. The real risk of claiming a player in August is if he's expensive and the original team just says, "You take his contract." But with players like Joseph, Hernandez, Galvis and Rupp, their salaries are so low (relatively speaking, obviously) that a team would be fine with assuming one of their contracts.
For those reasons, it seems like the only potential August trade candidate the Phillies have is Daniel Nava, who's currently on the 10-day DL with a hamstring strain.
"I think these were probably the four biggest salaried players that we had to trade," Klentak said of the four players he dealt this week. "And sometimes it's the guys who make money that become August trade targets. That doesn't mean we won't be active, but I think it's possible. We'll see."