With the Phillies seeing a losing streak hit six games to sink the club five games under .500 and having them fall farther back in the NL East and wild card standings, the general consensus is the Phillies should start to recognize themselves as sellers with the trade deadline coming up in just a few more days. But as we have learned, the Phillies are indeed buyers it would seem.
The Philadelphia Phillies were the highest bidder for Cuban right handed pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, according to multiple reports. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who was first to report the news Friday night, the Phillies agreed to terms on a six-year deal valued up to $59 million. As Passan notes, that would be the richest contract ever for an international player. The Phillies have not announced anything about this move, but that could just be a matter of time.
Here is what Passan says scouts are seeing in Gonzalez;
With a fastball that sits around 93 mph and recently topped out at 96, a split-fingered fastball and changeup that serve as his off-speed pitches, a cut fastball and a slow curve ball, Gonzalez's varying array impressed scouts and executives who flocked to Tijuana to watch him pitch in workout showcases and games. During a handful of starts in the low-level Liga del Norte, talent evaluators saw the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Gonzalez as a mid-rotation piece who could contribute immediately, a factor that no doubt motivated Philadelphia.
The Phillies have plenty of areas to improve on with this roster. Most of those concerns are found in the bullpen, outfield and corner infield positions. Starting pitching is always good to have stocked. As we have seen first-hand though, even those pitchers need a little help from the bats. While adding Gonzalez may be nice, there still needs to be a plan to improve the offense.
So what does this mean for the Phillies in the near and long-term future?
According to Passan's report, the plan seems to be to get the 26-year old righty in to the farm system as soon as possible with the idea of getting him in a Phillies uniform around mid-August. That would indicate the Phillies are ready to throw him right in to the mix in the starting rotation this season and have him be a part of the rotation for the next few seasons. As for this year, the question now becomes whether or not this addition is a move to allow flexibility to make a lucrative trade with another club using Cliff Lee. If the Phillies did trade Lee (again). Trading Lee could lead to some offensive help, but we'll have to wait and see what the plan of attack is for Amaro, who is clearly known to make headlines this time of year.
Regardless of whether or not the Phillies do anything in 2013 and whether or not they trade Lee, the 2014 season is being set up to be a competitive one if all goes according to plan. The starting rotation could have Lee, Cole Hamels, Gonzalez, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan. One through five, that could be a solid rotation, and we have not even addressed the future of Roy Halladay yet.
Halladay's reports still seem positive, but I'm not sure just how much faith we should have in a potential Halladay return in 2013. Halladay's contract will be up after this season, which leaves him as quite an interesting subject heading in to the off season. I think we may have seen the last of Halladay but I'm not 100 percent sure about it. Honestly, it would not be a shock to me if Ruben Amaro Jr. worked out a way to bring Halladay back if Doc manages to pitch this season and looks solid. For now though, I'm not including Halladay in the starting rotation picture for 2014, but a rotation including Lee, Hamels and a healthy and effective Halladay boosted by Gonzalez and back-ended by Kendrick/Lannan intrigues me.