I’m not usually one for creating random trade speculation out of thin air, but the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers are making it difficult on me.
The Rangers reportedly are in the market for a center fielder. Yet those same reports are that the club does not want to spend big in free agency.
What the Rangers would like to obtain is a talented, controllable center fielder. Enter the Phillies into this conversation – they have one.
EL TORITO IS JUST WHAT RANGERS WANT
Odubel Herrera is well-known to the Texas organization. The Phillies plucked him from the Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft back in December of 2014.
Herrera was originally signed by Texas as an international free agent out of his native Venezuela as a 16-year old in 2008.
He came through the Texas minor league organization almost exclusively as an infielder. Herrera played six seasons in the Rangers system. He appeared in 411 games as a second baseman and another 135 as a shortstop. He had just 11 games in left field while with Texas.
Herrera did play 41 games out in center field while playing winter ball back in Venezuela during the 2014 season. The Phillies liked what they saw of him out there, and made him their first pick in that 2014 Rule 5 Draft.
Herrera then surprisingly made the big leagues out of spring training for the 2015 season. There, ‘El Torito’ hit .297 with 30 doubles and 16 steals in his rookie season with the Phillies.
This past summer, Herrera became the lone Phillies representative at the All-Star Game. He hit .286 with a .361 on-base percentage, scoring 87 runs. He also showed power and speed. Herrera stole 25 bags, and nearly doubled his home run output to 15 long balls.
In just his second full season in center field, Herrera was named as a National League Gold Glove Award finalist.
Herrera turns just 25 years old at the end of this month. He cannot become a free agent until after the 2020 season, though he is arbitration-eligible this winter.
The bottom line here is that Herrera would seem to perfectly fit what the Rangers say they want: a talented, controllable center fielder. And again, he is someone with whom they should be very familiar.
RANGERS HAVE WHAT PHILLIES WANT
For a player of that talent, age, and salary level the Phillies should expect to get a strong prospect in return. If Texas would come off lefty Yohander Mendez, the Phils should jump at a deal.
Mendez is yet another Venezuelan. He turns 22 years old in January. A lanky 6’5″, he is ranked at the top of the Texas prospect list by MLB Pipeline, which gives him the following scouting report.
Mendez has developed into a potential mid-rotation starter and one of the best lefty pitching prospects in the game. He throws his fading, sinking changeup with deceptive arm speed, and it’s a legitimate plus pitch that keeps right-handers at bay. He has added velocity in 2016, boosting his fastball to a consistent 90-94 mph, and there’s still projection remaining in his lanky 6-foot-5 frame.Unlike a lot of long-limbed youngsters, Mendez has no problems throwing strikes. His biggest needs are to refine his breaking ball and to prove he can handle a starter’s workload, and he has made strides in both areas this season.
The Phillies personnel decision makers, GM Matt Klentak and club president Andy MacPhail, are already on record that you can never have enough quality pitching.
This would seem like a perfect match. The Phillies and Rangers found enough common ground to cut the huge Hamels trade in the summer of 2015. I see no reason they shouldn’t consider another one here at the Winter Meetings in 2016.