ATLANTA -- Dave Dombrowski wanted to find a starting pitcher before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.
He got one with minutes to spare.
He got a center fielder and a reliever, too.
The Phillies announced Tuesday that they acquired right-hander Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Brandon Marsh in separate deals with the Angels, as well as right-hander David Robertson in a trade with the Cubs. The Phillies woke up Tuesday morning 55-47 and holding the third and final NL Wild Card spot, with a 59.4% chance to make the postseason, per FanGraphs. That's an encouraging spot for a team that has not reached the postseason since 2011, when they won the NL East.
The Phils believe Tuesday’s trades bolstered their chances even further.
“I think we’re a lot better ballclub,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve got a tough division and tough people who are in the race, but I think we’re better. How much better are we? We tried to address certain areas, knowing that we’re getting [Jean] Segura back soon. And [Bryce] Harper is making progress, which is very encouraging."
“It gives us that little boost,” Kyle Schwarber said following Tuesday's 13-1 loss to the Braves at Truist Park. “We’ve been fighting, scratching, clawing for everything we’ve been getting so far. To come out there and get a really good bullpen piece, get a nice center fielder and a starting pitcher that has a reputation of pitching in the NL East and having success in it … it was definitely all really good today.”
The Phillies needed Syndergaard because right-hander Zach Eflin is sidelined indefinitely with an injured right knee. He is on the 60-day injured list, which means he cannot rejoin the team until Aug. 25, at the earliest. There is no timetable for his return.
Bailey Falter stepped into Eflin’s role, but the Phillies were concerned about their pitching depth. If something happened to another starter, they would be in trouble. Even with those concerns, Philadelphia found the asking price for some starting pitchers on the market to be too high.
The Phillies and Angels had been talking about Syndergaard for days, but it seemed like nothing was going to happen.
Then, the Angels called at the last minute.
“I guess whatever else they were working on didn’t work for them,” Dombrowski said.
The Phillies sent outfielder Mickey Moniak and Class A outfielder Jadiel Sánchez to Los Angeles to complete the deal. Philadelphia will assume the $7 million or so remaining on Syndergaard’s contract.
Now, Syndergaard, 29, is not the hard-throwing Thor of seasons past with the Mets. His fastball once averaged 97-98 mph. It averages 94 mph these days, but he is 5-8 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.2 WAR in 15 starts with the Angels.
He can help.
“He’s still throwing mid-90s,” Dombrowski said. “He’s just a different pitcher. He’s got a great sinker at this point. He’s pitched very effectively this year in a five-, six-inning type of role. We think with our other starters -- we’re not looking for a No. 1 type of guy. We never really dallied in that market because there were a few players in our organization we just didn’t want to give up.
"We still think Syndergaard is an effective Major League pitcher. With the bullpen that we have, if we can get five-to-six strong innings with our guys, now we’re deep enough in the 'pen where we can win some games that way.”
Before the Phillies got Syndergaard, they got Marsh and Robertson (and infielder Edmundo Sosa on Saturday). Marsh, 24, batted .226 with eight home runs, 37 RBIs and a .637 OPS with the Angels. He has the highest strikeout rate (36.2%) in baseball, but the Phillies believe they have identified ways to improve his contact rate. They also consider him one of the game’s best defensive outfielders.
He will assume the primary duties in center field.
“It’s been a goal of ours to get better defensively,” Dombrowski said.
The Phillies sent Double-A catcher Logan O’Hoppe to Los Angeles for Marsh. O’Hoppe was the Phillies’ No. 3 prospect and the No. 86 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Dombrowski explained that the only way he wanted to trade O’Hoppe would be if he could get a young, controllable position player in return.
Marsh is under team control through 2026.
“He is one of the best defenders in baseball in center field,” interim manager Rob Thomson said. “Obviously, that’s an upgrade. He can run. He’s just a grinder, gamer type of guy. He’s hit in the past. He hasn’t hit lately, but I think there’s some stuff that [hitting coach] Kevin [Long] can do to help him out. He wants to learn. He wants to play. He wants to win.”
Odúbel Herrera was designated for assignment to make room for Marsh, who could join the team Thursday.
The Phillies sent Double-A right-hander Ben Brown to the Cubs for Robertson. Brown would have ranked among the Phillies’ top 15 prospects in MLB Pipeline's new rankings expected later this month. The Phillies’ bullpen has been fantastic since early June, when Thomson became interim manager. Robertson adds to the mix. Thomson said he will continue to use Seranthony Domínguez and Brad Hand primarily in the eighth and ninth innings, although Robertson can close, if needed, just like Corey Knebel and others this season.
Robertson was 3-0 with a 2.23 ERA and 14 saves for the Cubs. He signed a two-year, $23 million contract with the Phillies before the 2019 season, but he pitched only 6 2/3 innings over those two seasons because of an injured right elbow.
It would be a nice redemption story for Robertson to return to Philadelphia and help the Phillies make the postseason.
“His stuff is back,” Thomson said.