Over at CSNPhilly.com, Jim Salisbury and I did a 20-man series on Phillies offseason targets and he wasn’t on the list. ‘Tis the beauty of the winter meetings.
Let’s break this Revere trade down bit-by-bit, because there are so many components to it.
Did the Phillies give up too much? Did they get enough? Where does Revere hit? How do they replace Vance Worley? What is the next move? Does this open the door for a Josh Hamilton signing? (Yes, and I’ll explain why…)
But before getting to those questions…
Who is Ben Revere?
He’s a 24-year-old outfielder who spent most of last season in right field for the Twins, but is unquestionably fast enough to handle everyday CF duty. He’s played over 1,100 innings in center and is regarded as a very good defender with an incredibly weak, Juan Pierre-like arm.
He hit .294/.333/.342 last season with 40 steals in 49 attempts. He has no home runs in 1,064 plate appearances at the major-league level, and he barely hits any doubles.
Last season, 66.9% of Revere’s balls in play were ground balls. Not only did that lead the majors easily, it was the highest groundball rate any qualifying player has posted since 2002, when the data first became available. This is a good thing … speedsters should be putting the ball on the ground and trying to leg out singles. Revere led the AL in 2012 with 32 infield hits and finished third in baseball with nine bunt singles.
At 24, he probably hasn’t yet hit his ceiling, so it is pretty silly to see some outlets analyzing the trade from the standpoint of “this is who Revere is, and he will never be better.” The Phillies are hoping Revere turns into the next Michael Bourn. Revere over the next handful of years will probably cost less than Bourn does in 2013 alone.
Did the Phillies give up too much?
Perhaps, but like all prospect trades, nobody knows if they gave up too much or too little for another five years. Revere is more valuable to the Phillies than Worley, because Revere fills a giant hole and will play every day. Worley, unlike Revere, has likely hit his ceiling. He’s a No. 4 starter who can get plenty of called strikes with his two-seam fastball but doesn’t have “great” stuff and is prone to wildness when he isn’t getting calls on the corners.
May has a huge arm and just as much upside, but after moving up to Double-A last year took a step back. His strikeout rate dropped from 12.4 to 9.1, and he’s still walking close to five batters per nine innings. He could be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter for the Twins someday. But it’s a big if. And the Phillies needed a centerfielder. It’s not as lopsided a trade as some might think.
May was a bit surprised by the trade.
“Ruben called me at 9 a.m. pacific to give me the news,” May told our minor league expert, Jay Floyd. “I’m not totally surprised, but it is pretty crazy to think about.
“I am very excited and it’ll be a great opportunity for me [with the Twins]. I’ll miss all the guys in the Phillies organization and I appreciate all of the opportunities I was given there. That said, I’m excited to get to spring training in Fort Myers and show the Twins and their fans what I’ve got.”
Where does Revere hit?
Probably second, so Jimmy Rollins doesn’t have to move out of the leadoff hole he and Charlie Manuel are so reluctant to remove him from. Revere could be a valuable two-hole hitter because of his high-contact rate, his ability to turn grounders into base hits and the threat of a bunt hit, not a sacrifice.
I’m picturing plenty of double steals in their futures.
How do they replace Worley?
This is where things get really interesting. As of this second, the Phillies’ rotation is Hamels-Lee-Halladay-Kendrick-Cloyd. But Tyler Cloyd did not pitch well at all in the majors last September and gave the Phillies little reason to pencil him in for 32 starts.
The Phils are now a player for a mid-level starting pitcher. Names include: Edwin Jackson, Jair Jurrjens, Erik Bedard, Dallas Braden, Francisco Liriano, Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum and Carlos Villanueva.
So … can they make a run at Josh Hamilton?
The last and most important question. The honest answer is “yes.”
By saving so much money on Revere, the Phillies will have about $141.5 million committed next season to 20 players. That factors in salaries in the $414,000 – $600,000 range for Antonio Bastardo, John Mayberry Jr., Domonic Brown, Freddy Galvis, Josh Lindblom, Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont and Mike Stutes/Jake Diekman.
The luxury tax threshold is $178 million. It includes player bonuses and benefits, so you have to have a cushion … you need to be at about $168 million to feel comfortable that you won’t be over at the end-of-season count.
That leaves the Phillies about $27 million to spend on the 2013 payroll. So, yes, they are a player for Hamilton and if they were to offer him a five-year, $110 million contract, they’d still have some money to sign a starting pitcher and cheaply fill a few bench spots.
Revere might not be B.J. Upton, Angel Pagan or Bourn, but unlike that trio he gives you the financial flexibility to improve in other areas. If Amaro can bring in a big-time bat, this has the potential to be his finest, most creative offseason to date.