Should we tell Ruben about the trade or just wait until he comes in tomorrow?
They did… good?
When details of the trade started to leak out, it was being reported that the Phillies received the Rangers’ sixth-ranked prospect, catcher Jorge Alfaro (considered by some to be the best catching prospect in baseball) and Jerad Eickhoff (a middling pitching prospect who, frustratingly, doesn’t use a second R in his name) in exchange for Hamels. Early on, it was clear that top prospects and youngsters Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara would not be coming over.
Initial reaction: disappointment.
But then, as more details leaked, the haul kept getting better and better. Fifth-ranked prospect Nick Williams (a free-swinging power outfielder whose scouting report sounds a lot like Dom Brown’s…)… and then fourth-ranked prospect Jake Thompson (who projects as a third or maybe even second starter)… others, including a salary dump in Matt Harrison that the Phillies were willing to take on. It was reported that Jake Diekman would also be going over in the deal. Fine.
Hamels has been the Phillies’ biggest trade chip for years. Ryan Howard is virtually untradable, Chase Utley doesn’t really have legs anymore, Jonathan Papelbon was an expensive closer and a huge dick, Cliff Lee had some value but is older than Hamels and is hurt now anyway. Cole is still in his prime, and fairly durable. So this was it. He was the piece the Phils had to move to really kick the rebuild into high gear. They did a nice job getting something in return.
All along it was reported that teams were bristling at the Phils’ demands for top prospects. I think that’s partly because Ruben Amaro isn’t good at his job, and partly because teams are wising up to panicky deadline deals… likely because the Phillies serve as a cautionary tale for what can happen when you go for broke year after year. So getting three of a team’s top six prospects and two others (Eickhoff and pitcher Alec Asher) is more than a decent return for Hamels.
Few players are a sure-thing, and teams aren’t trading those who are. So you play the numbers game. You take three or four really good prospects, cross your fingers, and wait to see if one or two of them become + MLB players. If they do, the trade is a huge win. In this case, if Alfaro becomes the Phillies’ catcher for the next decade and Thompson becomes a reliable starter, I’d be happy. Anything else would just be a bonus.
Verdict: good trade.
Note: All the rankings here are based on MLB.com’s list.