The Philadelphia Phillies already acquired two relievers to rebuild their struggling bullpen. However, if they keep searching for upgrades, an SF Giants reliever could quickly become a trade target.
SF Giants left-handed hurler Tony Watson would represent a considerable upgrade on a Phillies pitching staff that currently sports a 5.54 ERA. While ERA can be deceiving in a small-sample like this season, they’ve set some dubious historic marks:
The Phillies are looking to rebuild their bullpen on the fly like the eventual champion Washington Nationals did in 2019. Late last week they began that process by trading for relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from the Boston Red Sox.
Workman and Hembree boast a 5.00 and 4.76 ERA, respectively. These are not the type of numbers that would scream upgrade for any bullpen, but that shows just how dire the Phillies bullpen has been. They are desperate to fix the problem:
Workman has posted a 3.78 ERA in his six-year career, whereas Hembree has pitched to the tune of a 3.57 ERA since debuting with the Giants way back in 2013. That said, neither one should pitch in high-leverage situations for a playoff team. If Philadelphia stands pat though, they might be forced into that role.
The reality is, the Phillies still need a couple more high-leverage arms and probably an experienced closer to put themselves in good shape.
So, I expect the Phillies to remain active in trade talks, especially on the bullpen market. This is where Tony Watson comes into the picture.
Watson’s reasonable one-year, $3 million contract expires at the end of the 2020 season, so there should be plenty of interest in the veteran reliever and the Phillies make perfect sense.
This has been an odd season for the 35-year-old. So far, Watson has produced 0.93 ERA in 11 appearances across 9.2 frames. He has only yielded six hits, including one home run, and one walk while being stingy in allowing baserunners this year.
The odd part has been Watson’s usage. He only threw a total of 34 pitches across four appearances in the first two weeks of August. Watson was recovering from a shoulder injury during summer camp, so the Giants may have been taking the cautious approach with his return.
It does seem like the SF Giants are more comfortable with Waton’s health status now than they were at the start of the season. Over the past ten days, Watson has made 5 appearances.
Plus, Watson is picking the right time to peak. The veteran hurler struggled with a 4.17 ERA in 2019, but the 2020 season has produced far superior results.
His appearances have rarely been stressful, and he has had no problem recording outs against both left and right-handed hitters.
There is no denying that the Phillies need more quality relievers. The real question is, would the Giants dangle Watson in trade talks? That seemed like a slam dunk last week as the Giants blew save opportunity after save opportunity. Now it’s a bit more uncertain.
Of course, they hit a hot streak before the trade deadline last season as well. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi traded away several key bullpen arms, including Sam Dyson, Drew Pomeranz, and Mark Melancon.
On paper, there is no denying that the Phillies are a match for Watson on paper. They have begun to rebuild their bullpen, and the SF Giants should be one of the first calls they make for their next move. The SF Giants will have to choose whether they are willing to relinquish one of their best bullpen arms for the second-half of the season.