Trade grades - Philadelphia Phillies fill holes in bullpen, outfield -- but is it enough?

Trade grades – Philadelphia Phillies fill holes in bullpen, outfield — but is it enough?

Bradford DoolittleESPN Staff Writer

  • Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
  • Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
  • Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
  • Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association

The trades: The Phillies acquire RHP David Robertson from the Cubs for RHP Ben Brown, and OF Brandon Marsh from the Angels for C Logan O’Hoppe.

With two trades that were reported within the span of a few minutes, the wild-card contending Phillies addressed a pair of roster holes. While the motivations for the Phillies are clear, what about the other teams in this pair of deals?

These are classic Dave Dombrowski deals. Keep your eye on the opportunity at hand and let the future sort itself out later. The Phillies entered deadline day with a one-game edge over the Cardinals for the sixth and last playoff spot in the National League. They stood 29th in overall outfield bWAR, and despite solid overall bullpen production, they’ve had to spread around the save opportunities.

These deals improve the Phillies’ roster and perhaps help create some separation from the Cardinals, though Philly doesn’t benefit from St. Louis’ NL Central-heavy remaining schedule.

Robertson not only deepens the Philadelphia bullpen, but he brings it into focus. Now Rob Thomson can line up Corey Knebel, Brad Hand, Jose Alvarado and the vicious Seranthony Dominguez in front of Robertson. And he can stop using Jeurys Familia in high- and medium-leverage spots.

Robertson has enjoyed a resurgent season in Chicago after signing a one-year deal with the Cubs during the offseason. This is his second try with the Phillies after he was injured just seven appearances into his first Philadelphia stint.

Robertson saved 14 games for the Cubs while compiling a 2.23 ERA and recording 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings. He was perhaps a bit lucky, with a .216 BABIP, but there isn’t much separation between his Statcast-based expected numbers and his actual numbers, so any regression should be soft. The caveat is he’ll join a club with one of baseball’s worst team defenses, which will do no favors for his BABIP.

Editor’s Picks

That defense won’t be quite as ghastly with Marsh in the fold. It’s an interesting swap, and we’ll get more into whom the Phillies gave up during the Angels section. But not so long ago, Marsh was a hyped prospect who was expected to be part of a youthful outfield for the Angels, joining Jo Adell in flanking Mike Trout over the next few years.

Like Adell, Marsh, 24, has struggled with plate discipline and the ability to make consistent contact during the first portion of his big league career. He’s played 163 games, basically a full season, and during that span, he has hit just .239/.299/.354 with 10 homers, 56 RBIs, 61 runs and 14 stolen bases. A lefty hitter, he has logged just a .538 OPS against southpaws so far.

Still, Marsh is a speedy and productive defender who can fill the Phillies’ hole in center field. While Marsh has been better defensively on the corners, the Phillies need him to excel up the middle to justify his presence in a stacked lineup. Indeed, around the time this trade came together, the Phillies designated Odubel Herrera for assignment.

The Phillies should be better defensively even if Marsh continues to struggle at the plate. But he has plenty of offensive upside and five years of team control after this season.

Grade: B+

ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel rated 38 players from the Phillies’ organization during the preseason. Ben Brown wasn’t one of them. Maybe it’s fitting he cut them off at 38 because Baseball America had him at No. 39. Meanwhile, in its most recent set of rankings, placed Brown at No. 26.

Brown will be Rule 5 eligible this winter, so the Phillies were facing a decision on a 22-year-old righty they plucked out of New Jersey in the 33rd round of the 2017 draft. He’s a lean 6-foot-6 and has been enjoying a stellar season in High-A, where he is still more than a year younger than the league average despite his lengthy tenure in the minors.

He had Tommy John surgery a few years back, which slowed his development, but according to, he’s working at 95 to 98 mph with his fastball, which he complements with a curve and slider. The Cubs have created some pretty solid depth in the pitching department and can afford to take a big swing with a hurler like Brown.

Grade: B-

As with Brown, the Phillies were facing a decision on whether to place catcher Logan O’Hoppe on their 40-man roster this winter. But while the call on Brown might have been a hard one, there was no decision to be made with O’Hoppe. If he was still in the organization, he was going to get a spot.

McDaniel ranked O’Hoppe as the fourth-best prospect in the Philadelphia system during the preseason with a 45+ FV, while has him as the No. 86 prospect in all of baseball. That’s a valuable young player.

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McDaniel wrote, “There’s a shot for solid-average offense with good pitch selection and emerging power. He’s a good defender and could be a long-term type answer and future starter, but probably more in 2023 than 2022.”

O’Hoppe was blocked by J.T. Realmuto in Philadelphia, but immediately becomes the Angels’ likely catcher of the future. Is he worth the next five years of Marsh? If so, that could very well mean the organization failed in developing a player of Marsh’s ability.

And if Marsh turns it on and becomes a star in Philly, playing next to Bryce Harper instead of Trout, this is going to be bad look for the Angels.

This content was originally published here.

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