Mission accomplished! The Phillies capped off their offseason plans by agreeing to terms with Bryce Harper on a 13 year deal. It completes their rebuild and puts them in position to play October playoff games for the first time since 2011. Harper (signed through 2032), Andrew McCutchen (signed through 2021 with an option for 2022) and Odubel Herrera (signed through 2021 with options for 2022 and 2023) will be in the outfield for quite some time. By signing Harper, the Phillies give up their 2nd round pick in the 2020 draft, which is pick number 55. A lot has been written about the courtship and how it affects the team. For our purposes, let’s review what prospects are impacted by the signing and what players were selected in the last 10 years at the 55th pick to review the opportunity cost in acquiring the superstar.
Judging by their offseason moves, the Phillies are going all-in for 2019, which means no prospects are safe. Sixto Sanchez was already traded for J.T. Realmuto showing the team means business. Here are the outfielders who may be impacted by the signing:
Adam Haseley – Haseley wasn’t expected to be up this year except for possibly in September when rosters expand. His timeline doesn’t change. Haseley will have to continue his solid production to remain in the long term plans. I wouldn’t bet against this happening.
Mickey Moniak – As if his struggles weren’t bad enough, now the odds of making the team are even more diminished with Harper and McCutchen locked in the outfield. Moniak’s situation doesn’t change much this year because he is still young so the Harper arrival may actually put less pressure on him to succeed which could help him improve.
Matt Vierling – He’s entering his second year in the minors and still has time to make an impact. The signing doesn’t change his timeline at all because he’s still young and developing.
Cornelius Randolph – See Moniak.
Dylan Cozens – His chances of making the team take a nosedive with the signing. Cozens hasn’t done enough with the bat to justify keeping him over the other outfielders on the roster. The power is there but the strikeouts continue to bring his stock down.
Past Prospects –
Aaron Altherr – There are quite a few ways the team could go with Altherr. Since he is out of options, he can’t be demoted without potentially losing him to another team. He can play all three outfield spots so that versatility could lead the team to keep him as a bench player. He could also be traded but his value is the lowest it’s been in years so they probably won’t get much in return. Prediction: Bench role this year
Nick Williams – Williams has the inside track to stay on the major league roster as a bench option for the team now. He could still see quite a few at bats to keep the outfielders fresh and rested and his 2018 was better than the numbers show. Williams has more potential than Altherr so of the decision came down to either one, odds are on Williams staying. He also has options remaining but it’s doubtful they would send him to Triple-A. Also, don’t rule out a trade to shore up another position. Prediction: Bench role
Roman Quinn – He’s currently nursing another injury. Quinn could battle Herrera as the starting center fielder if he could just stay healthy. Since he is out of options, the team could delay a decision by putting him on the DL, I mean IL, to start the season. Prediction: Start the year on the IL
As stated, the Phillies gave up the 55th pick in the upcoming draft. The players below were selected 55th overall in the last 10 drafts. Are the Phillies going to regret losing that pick? Let’s see what happened with the past picks.
In 2018, Texas selected Owen White, a right-handed pitcher, out of high school. He currently ranks #18 on Jake Berry’s Texas Rangers Top 50 Prospects.
In 2017, Seattle took right-hander, Sam Carlson. He was a high school pick currently sitting at #11 in Joe Rush’s Seattle Mariners Top 50 Prospects. He is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Carlson has potential to be a frontline starter but the injury pushes the timeline back.
Cleveland took high-school third baseman Nolan Jones with the 55th pick in the 2016 draft. He is the #1 ranked prospect in John Stewart’s Cleveland Indians Top 50 Prospects and has potential to see time in the big leagues this year.
Cody Ponce was the Brewers pick in 2015 at number 55. Ponce is currently showing up as #33 in Andy Patton’s Milwaukee Brewers Top 50 Prospects list. He projects to be a back-end starter or middle reliever in the future.
Previous years’ 55th overall picks not in our current Top 50 lists –
2014 – Jacob Lindgren, LHP – New York Yankees – Lindgren had the “closer of the future” label thrusted upon him when drafted but after 7 innings of 8.13 FIP and 5.14 ERA in 2015 he was non-tendered by the Yankees. Had Tommy John Surgery in 2016 then again in 2018 but signed a minor-league contact with the Chicago White Sox earlier this year.
2013 – Tyler Danish, RHP – Chicago White Sox – Signed by the Seattle Mariners this off-season after being cut from the White Sox. In 13 innings of pitching in the majors, he has a 4.85 ERA and a WHIP of 2.31.
2012 – Walker Weickel, RHP – San Diego Padres – Weickel signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers in November 2017 and pitched 113 innings of 4.75 ERA in 2018 for their A and AA teams.
2011 – Hudson Boyd, RHP – Minnesota Twins – He had a couple suspensions to his name and has been out of baseball for a few years.
2010 – LeVon Washington, OF – Cleveland Indians – Washington had a few non-descript seasons in the Cleveland minor leagues until 2017. He did not play in 2018.
2009 – Tommy Joseph, C – San Francisco Giants – Joseph was traded to the Phillies (of all teams, right?) in 2012 where he had a few semi-productive seasons replacing Ryan Howard as the starting 1B for some time. He currently plays for the LG Twins in the Korean League.
After seeing these names, the draft pick compensation that the Phillies gave up is definitely worth Bryce Harper. The team is nicely set up for sustained success and still has depth in the minors to trade if they need to make moves later in the summer for a playoff run. It’s going to be an interesting year in Philadelphia.