Ever since the forced departure of Scott Rolen, the Phillies have yet to find an everyday, every season third baseman. They won a World Series with the slick fielding, light hitting Pedro Feliz. Placido Polanco seemed like a good option until he began his routine visits to the DL.
Third base is a position that requires the one who is playing it to be practiced on the hot corner. Putting someone else such as Jimmy Rollins or Freddy Galvis there simply won’t do. With an aging line up, and a noticeable power outage, the Phillies need to get younger and more offensive. Third base is the perfect opportunity to fill a huge need, get younger, and find a run producer.
In this scenario, retaining the oft injured Polanco won’t help the Phillies get younger. Depending on Kevin Frandsen to carry his hot hitting is just not something the Phillies front office should rely on. The potential free agent pool is weak at best with the only real options being the strikeout king himself Mark Reynolds, and David Wright, both of whom have team options for 2013.
So if the Phillies don’t have any internal options, and there are no free agents to sign, and Placido Polanco is most likely gone, where does that leave a position in a desperate need of an upgrade?
The answer is Chase. No, not Utley, but Headley.
Chase Headley will be under team control through 2014, making the price for his services high. But, the San Diego Padres seem to be in a perpetual state of rebuilding, while the Phillies are reloading. He will be 28 when the 2013 season begins making the team younger at a key position.
He sports a .270 career BA, and with the year he is currently having, seems to be entering his prime. He is on pace to set career highs in HR, RBI, Walks, SLG%, and OPS. Offensively, he’ll be an upgrade over the 5-10 HR and 50-60 RBI the Phillies have been getting recently from their third basemen.
The scary thing about Headley is his numbers will only get better once he is out of the cavernous PETCO Park in San Diego. According to FanGraphs.com, his career splits at home are .237 BA/22 HR/ 122 RBI. Away from PETCO his numbers are .300/36/162. He is also a switch hitter, which is something the Phillies could use in their lineup.
Chase Headley is also near the top of all NL third basemen in fielding percentage, and has never made more 13 errors in a season. There won’t be any drop off defensively from Polanco when healthy, and it’ll be an upgrade over the Phillies current crop of third basemen by committee.
While another trade may seem to make some Phillies fans cringe, there are legs to this rumor. In July, CBSSports.com reported that the Phillies were interested in Headley, along with Shin-Soo Choo, at the trade deadline even as they subtracted several members of the team. The thought was that they would turn around the prospects that they received from the Hunter Pence/Shane Victorino trades to acquire some long term help.
MLBTradeRumors.com predicts a $6.1 million 2013 arbitration number. It’s not the $14 million number expected to be awarded to Hunter Pence, so the Phillies front office should be happy with those $8 million of savings. The real question becomes what it will take to acquire a third baseman in the prime of his career who is under team control for 2 more seasons. The answer is a lot.
While the Padres are not a poor team, they seem to always unload premium talent when the time comes for a raise. Adrian Gonzalez was the latest casualty of the Padres Payroll, and Headley is in line to be the next. It’s been reported that San Diego’s next third baseman, Jedd Gyorko, has been tearing up minor league pitching and may soon get the call up with Headley due over $6 million in 2013. It would make sense for the Padres to move him while his stock is highest, and the Phillies certainly have enough pitching talent, along with some depth in the outfield in the minor leagues to make a move.
Could it be time to say goodbye to Vance Worley, Freddy Galvis, Jesse Biddle, or some other combination of players? If the prize is Chase Headley, the answer is yes. There’s every reason to make this trade, and not many reasons to not pull the trigger.
(Some stats and information courtesy of ESPN.com, Baseballreference.com, and MLB.com)