Phils' Deadline prep pays off with prospect haul
Club brought in eight Minor Leaguers in deals for Hamels, Papelbon, Revere
PHILADELPHIA -- General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. took a seat in his box Sunday morning at Citizens Bank Park, and he spoke for more than 20 minutes about everything that happened in the days, weeks and months before Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.
And Amaro never checked his phone. He checked it constantly before the Deadline. Amaro had text discussions with teams as late as 5 in the morning on Friday, trying to find the best return for the Phillies' talent.
"Nobody really sleeps when you're talking to teams on the West Coast," Amaro said.
In the end, Philadelphia sent Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman and $9.5 million to Texas, Jonathan Papelbon to Washington and Ben Revere to Toronto for eight Minor League prospects and one big league pitcher. Including the prospects the Phillies received in December for Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo, they have added 12 Minor League players to the organization in the past seven months, including 10 that rank among the Top 24 in their system and three in the Top 69 in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com.
"You've got to give quality to get quality," Amaro said. "We think we did that."
The process started in October, weeks after Phillies president Pat Gillick announced the team planned to rebuild, untethering Amaro from the pursuit of the postseason with a core of aging veterans. The Phils quickly identified a list of teams that could be a fit for Hamels and others, and they scouted those organizations thoroughly from Spring Training through last week.
"This was as well prepared as we've been," Amaro said. "There were no shortage of suitors, and when you're talking about five or six teams to cover all those players and all those prospects … we started to target some of those guys during the offseason. The scouting and the addition of the analytics portion of these evaluations put us in the best position to be ready to make the trades."
Quality is key. Some folks considered the Phillies' farm system to be among the bottom third in baseball before this season. Following the 2015 Draft and the prospects they received from Texas, Washington and Toronto, some believe they have catapulted into the top half, if not the top third.
But quantity is key, too.
"They always say to get five if you need 10," Gillick said. "It's a numbers game. We think we got the numbers, and we think we got the quality. Hopefully out of that group, we'll get four or five of them that'll be able to perform in the Major Leagues."
"You want to dream as much as you possibly can, but you also have to be realistic about the players," Amaro said.
Think back to the trades the Phillies made for Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. How many of those prospects came back to haunt Philadelphia? Carlos Carrasco? Travis d'Arnaud? Jon Singleton? Jarred Cosart?
If one of the two hitters the Phils acquired for Hamels (outfielder Nick Williams and catcher Jorge Alfaro) and one of the three pitchers (Jake Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff and Alec Asher) become above-average big league players, the trade will be considered a win. If any more produce, it will be a bonus.
"We're not going to hit on every player," Amaro said. "Very, very rarely does that ever happen. We wanted to create as much depth as much as we possibly could, so if we have two or three guys fall by the wayside, we still have a chance with four or five of the others guys."
The Phillies were in a unique situation leading up to the Trade Deadline, with Gillick in his final couple months as president, Amaro in the final couple months of his contract and Andy MacPhail as the president-in-waiting, observing and offering opinions throughout the process.
"He did an excellent job," Gillick said about Amaro. "He's going to do things in a professional manner. He's going to do things he thinks are in the Phils' best interest. People might think he's doing something to save his job, but I've always said I have confidence in him that he's going to carry out his responsibilities in a professional manner."
Of course, MacPhail will have the final say on Amaro and others in the front office. What does he think about Amaro and his team's performance at the Deadline? Few know that answer, because MacPhail has not commented publicly.
"Andy has been here a month or so, so he knows what's transpired," Gillick said. "I don't have to go to bat for [Amaro]. Andy is observant. Andy takes everything in, so he'll make his own decision."
Said Amaro: "I'll never change the way I go about my business, regardless of my job status. It's not about me. It's about our organization, trying to move it forward. My job now is to get us back to the point where we're doing that again. And to do it in an efficient way and to do it with a more long-term effect."
The Phillies could still upgrade their system this month in an August waiver deal. There is interest in Chase Utley. Ryan Howard, Aaron Harang and Jeff Francoeur could be options, too.
But Gillick and Amaro already see a stronger farm system than a year ago.
"I think it's made a tremendous jump from a depth standpoint and quality standpoint," Gillick said.
"This day and age, you never know how quickly things can develop," Amaro said. "[Astros GM] Jeff Luhnow did a fantastic job with his organization. They're a contending team a year or two before they thought they'd be a contender. Now they're going for it."