The Phils may be in position to shop young pitching, including 23-year-old Robinson Tejeda.
Much has been written about the Phils need for starting pitching and ways to get more of it. Free agency is an option, though choices are limited, and trading away existing stars may only yield prospects.
It may sound crazy, but the Phils could be in a good shape to trade young arms. In spring training, the Phils will have a potential logjam of young pitchers to fill limited spots in the rotation, and even less opportunity should the Phils acquire a veteran some other way.
The list of Phils who could be competing for a starting job include Gavin Floyd, Ryan Madson, Cole Hamels, Eude Brito and Robinson Tejeda – in addition to some other minor leaguers who may get a chance to compete in spring training.
The sudden surplus of borderline big-league arms could be tasty for small-market buyers looking to add a fifth starter. That means the Phils actually could have chips to trade that aren’t established veterans like Bobby Abreu.
The Phils can’t, and shouldn’t, try converting all the runners-up into relievers. Only one of them – Madson – has had anything close to consistent success in the bullpen.
Conversely, only one – Tejeda – has had success as a starter, yet his name is mentioned least when considering next year’s rotation.
It’s possible that a trade of someone like Tejeda - the pitcher I’d deal first - could net a young catcher or third baseman. Catcher and third base represent positions the Phils are years away from developing in the minors, a situation that may come to a head as early as next season.
The reason I’d deal Tejeda is that his "effective wild" style is something teams will learn to exploit the more they face him. He’s never been anything more than a moderate prospect in the system, even surrendering a league-worst 29 homers two seasons ago in Double-A Reading, where he went 8-14 with a 5.15 ERA.
Looking back, the opposition made it very easy on Tejeda on many occasions, who squeezed out of countless jams simply because batters weren’t smart enough to lay off fastballs well out of the zone. Likewise in his brief duty as starter, Brito had the same effect with his slider.
Shoppers might bite on Tejeda's 4-3 with a 3.57 ERA, with success as both a starter and reliever this season.
A quick look at Baseball America reveals a fairly weak lot of minor league catchers, but a moderate-to-strong class of third basemen.
Of course, any trade involving the young arms on this list need to wait to see how the bullpen shakes down, or whether the Phils decide to bring back Vicente Padilla. The last thing they need is to spread themselves too thin before the first pitch of the season.