Well, that was uneventful.
If you tuned into the All-Star Game last night hoping for a glimpse of Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, you got it. But unless you’re into equipment mix-ups, a glimpse was all you got.
Realmuto entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning and grounded out. He struck out on three pitches against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, finishing 0-for-2 in the National League’s 4-3 loss. Thrilling right?
Actually, this was the extent of Realmuto’s excitement: He had to borrow Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong’s red helmet and stick a Phillies logo on it because, as Matt Breen reported from Cleveland, his batting helmet somehow didn’t make it with the rest of his equipment.
Can’t say I blame the helmet for taking an All-Star pass.
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As soon as the last out was recorded in the All-Star Game, baseball’s trade season began.
The trade deadline is three weeks from today, and it’s a little bit different this year. July 31 is now the only trade deadline thanks to a rules change that barred teams from making waiver deals in August. It’s possible, then, that there will be more activity than usual because it will mark the last chance for contenders to significantly upgrade their roster for a playoff push.
At 47-43, the Phillies have myriad needs. They could use another bat off the bench and help for the bullpen, even though David Robertson, Pat Neshek and Seranthony Dominguez are expected to return from the injured list at some point in July or August. Most of all, though, they need starting pitching.
It’s not even certain that the Phillies will be a buyer. They open the second half with a three-game series against the Nationals, then four games against the Dodgers. If the Phillies lose more ground on the first-place Braves, general manager Matt Klentak may be less willing to trade future assets for short-term needs. He could even choose to stand pat altogether.
"I’m pretty sure they have confidence in us to go out and make a move and make us better,” catcher J.T. Realmuto said from the All-Star Game.
It’s a nice thought, but the Phillies appear to have too many holes to believe that a rent-a-starter such as Madison Bumgarner will put them over the top. And the price for pitchers who are under contract beyond this season (Matthew Boyd of the Tigers, Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays, Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks) will be excessive.
There’s also the question of whether the Phillies have enough trade chips to acquire a difference-making starter. Top prospect Alec Bohm, a power-hitting third baseman who is zooming through the farm system, isn’t going anywhere. And he’s the only top-50 prospect in the organization.
Regardless, the next 10 days figure to provide Klentak with a trade-deadline road map.
Realmuto is open to discussing a contract extension with the Phillies, as Matt Breen writes. What might that look like? There haven’t been many comparable deals for 28-year-old all-star catchers, but considering St. Louis’ Yadier Molina agreed last year to a three-year, $60 million extension at age 34, figure something like four years, $96 million.
Count Realmuto as someone who expects the Phillies to be active at the trade deadline. “I would be shocked if our front office didn’t believe we could make a run,” he said before the National League stretched its All-Star Game losing streak to seven games.
And columnist David Murphy asks if the Phillies are even good enough to go for broke at the deadline.
Friday: Phillies return from the all-star break to host Nationals, 6:05 p.m.
Sunday: Ryan Howard retirement ceremony before Phillies-Nationals, 1:05 p.m.
Monday: Dodgers visit Citizens Bank Park for a four-game series, 7:05 p.m.
Since the inaugural game was played in 1933 at Comiskey Park in Chicago, there have been 90 All-Star Games, including two per season from 1959-62 and none in 1945 due to World War II travel restrictions. The Phillies have been represented by 106 players, from Abreu (Bobby) to Wolf (Randy), and most frequently by Mike Schmidt (12 times).
Only four Phillies players have ever homered in the All-Star Game: Johnny Callison in 1964, Dick Allen in 1967, Greg Luzinski in 1977 and Schmidt in 1981.
Callison’s three-run shot was particularly dramatic because it came in the bottom of the ninth inning at Shea Stadium in New York against Red Sox reliever Dick Radatz and gave the National League a 7-4 victory. Stan Musial (1955) and Ted Williams (1941) are the only other players to hit a walkoff homer in the All-Star Game.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Answer: Thanks, Dan, for the question. Williams is definitely a trade chip. He wasn’t happy with his reduced role after Bryce Harper signed, and given how well he’s been hitting in triple A (26-for-69, four homers, 1.123 OPS since June 21), it appears he’s eager to be dealt. But Williams’ value has taken a hit this season, and at this point, he’s probably more of an add-on than a centerpiece to any deal.
I do think that a package centered around Medina would fetch a good return. The 22-year-old right-hander is the Phillies’ top pitching prospect, and although he hasn’t dominated double A, he has a 2.77 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 14 walks in his last 39 innings.
Ask yourself this, though: If the likeliest reward is one wild-card game for a shot at playing the Dodgers in the division series, is it really worth it for the Phillies to trade Medina? The better move might actually be pushing him to the big leagues to see if he can help down the stretch and perhaps be part of the rotation next year.