Who are the 2020 Philadelphia Phillies? Are they competitive team, led by stars like Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, that sits only 2 games out of the division lead in the NL East heading into last night’s game against the Atlanta Braves? Or are they pretenders sitting, much like two-thirds of the entire National League, around .500, with a pitching staff that has averaged almost as many runs allowed per game (5.53, 3rd in NL) as its elite offense has scored (5.58, 2nd in NL)? Adding onto this uncertainty for the Phillies front office is the fact that multiple key members of their roster, including Realmuto, currently stand to become free agents at the end of the season.
Should the Phillies decide to sell, they do provide some tantalizing matches for the Yankees. While a vocal segment of the fanbase will be clamoring for a Realmuto deal, even if the Phillies opt to trade him for fear he walks, the asking price will likely be too high for the relative value he would bring the Yankees. Depending on Gleyber Torres’s hamstring injury, with DJ LeMahieu already on the shelf, the Yankees could look for a reunion with beloved shortstop Didi Gregorius, who has been having himself a monster comeback year in Philadelphia (.299/.338/.478, 120 OPS+, 116 wRC+).
Scott Kingery, on the other hand, if he has fallen out of favor with the Phillies front office, could represent a good buy-low candidate (-21 OPS+, -23 wRC this in 2020, but 102 OPS+, 101 wRC+ last year). That said, it’s hard to see the team lose faith in a 26-year-old homegrown infielder who they extended until 2026 as a minor leaguer and whose struggles may be attributed to a battle with COVID-19.
Jay Bruce represents a potential move that would be similar to last year’s trade for Edwin Encarnación. The Yankees, who leads MLB in OPS+ with 125 and whose 5.42 runs per game is 3rd in the league and tops in the AL, do not necessarily need Bruce’s bat. However, if the Phillies are motivated to get something at all for him, since he is a free agent at the end of the season, the possibility of acquiring a left-handed bat with a 142 OPS+ for cheap might be too good to pass up, particularly pending Aaron Judge’s and Giancarlo Stanton’s returns to the lineup.
On the mound, most of the Phillies pitching staff, outside of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, would not be worth it — after all, the team on a whole has an ERA of 5.56. That said, the Yankees could look to buy low on Hector Neris (7.20 ERA, 2.54 FIP), Tommy Hunter (5.14 ERA, 2.29 FIP), or Adam Morgan (4.05 ERA, 2.69 FIP). More likely, however, expect the Yankees to look for more of a sure thing if they intend to bolster the pitching staff.
At full strength, the Phillies would likely not be a realistic trade partner for the Yankees this season. Injuries, however, make such a match more plausible than it might otherwise have been.