In all of the back room wheeling and dealing that goes on between professional sports teams, fates change on a daily basis. Usually, when a trade falls apart, it only effects the two (or three) teams involved. But in Major League Baseball this season, an unrelated deal between the Padres and Marlins sent butterfly effect ripples through the Phillies.
In September, Padres GM A.J. Preller was suspended by Major League Baseball for failing to disclose medical information on LHP Drew Poeranz when they traded him to the Red Sox for Anderson Espinoza.
As sentient bobblehead Ken Rosenthal reported today, Preller “engaged in similar conduct” in a deal with the Marlins, a “second trade to address the Marlins’ concerns, with the Padres taking back injured right-hander Colin Rea.” In his first start for the Marlins, Rea suffered a major elbow injury that left the Marlins with sever buyer’s remorse:
The Marlins, according to major-league sources, wanted to undo their entire seven-player trade with the Padres after Rea suffered a major elbow injury in his first start after arriving from San Diego.
The commissioner’s office offered the Marlins the opportunity to rescind the deal, just as it later offered the Red Sox the opportunity to undo Espinoza for Pomeranz, sources said (the Red Sox declined; they were in a pennant race at the time, and Pomeranz was healthy enough to pitch).
The Marlins, however, were under the impression that the commissioner’s office preferred them to seek a remedy from the Padres, sources said. That, ultimately, was the path the Marlins chose, sending Rea back to the Padres for pitching prospect Luis Castillo, who also was in the original deal.
In the first exchange, Castillo, right-hander Jarred Cosart, reliever Carter Capps and first-base prospect Josh Naylor went to the Padres for Rea and right-handers Andrew Cashner and Tayron Guerrero.
The backup plan, according to Rosenthal, was to send Naylor to the Phillies for Jeremy Hellickson, right around the trade deadline. At the time, the consensus was that Hellickson would turn down the Phillies’ qualifying offer and enter free agency, at the very least netting the Phils a draft pick.
The Marlins’ Plan B, if they had nixed the deal, was to trade Naylor to the Phillies for right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and market Castillo for a controllable starter before the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline, sources said. The Phillies, sources said, had agreed on Hellickson-for-Naylor, only to lose out when the Marlins kept their deal with the Padres mostly intact, enabling Naylor to remain with San Diego…
The Rea-for-Castillo exchange was announced approximately three hours before the non-waiver deadline.
By that time, it was too late for the Marlins to flip Castillo for a controllable starter.
The time had also passed for the Phillies to revive trade talks they had about Hellickson with other teams, since they told those teams that they were pursuing another avenue. Hellickson ended the season as a Phillie and somewhat surprisingly signed a qualifying offer to remain a Phillie in 2017. He cannot sign another QO this offseason, and thus the Phillies will not be eligible for draft-pick compensation if he signs somewhere else.
There’s a lot of “what could have happened here,” but it reminds me – to a much, much lesser extent – of the fates that could’ve changed in Sixers history were it not for Matt Geiger.
Before the 2001 season, fed up with his attitude, punctionality, and effort, the Sixers attempted to trade Allen Iverson. They agreed in principle to a nearly unheard of six-team deal that would have ended up with Iverson and Matt Geiger on the Pistons, while landing Eddie Jones, Jerome Williams, and my childhood favorite player, Glen Rice, on the Sixers. The only reason that deal didn’t go down is that Geiger’s contract included a $3.3 million “trade-kicker,” a 15% pay raise that would be invoked if he were to be traded. The deal couldn’t go through unless Geiger waived the kicker, and he refused, thus casting my #41 Rice Sixers jersey to the abyss of what never was.
Hellickson is no Iverson, and there may not even be an Eddie Jones in these dealings, but sometimes things out of your control shape your team’s history in a way you couldn’t predict. Hellickson’s career was forever changed by the shady dealings of a GM he may never meet.