Trading veterans at deadline does not always reap rewards

Posted: June 09, 2014

CINCINNATI - With the team in free-fall mode and the trade deadline in the not-so-distant future, several veteran Phillies players will almost certainly be the subjects of a flurry of rumors over the next 8 weeks.

A fan base eager for change will probably welcome those rumors, hoping they'll advance beyond the rumor stage. But a lesson in trading established, proven veteran talent for prospects presented itself on the daily baseball transactions report yesterday afternoon.

Tyson Gillies cleared waivers and was outrighted off the Phillies' 40-man roster. He remains on Triple A Lehigh Valley's roster.

Gillies, 25, has played in more than 75 games in only one of his first four seasons in the Phillies organization. He was one of the three players, along with righthanders Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez, that the Phillies received from the Seattle Mariners in the December 2009 trade that sent Cliff Lee out west.

"He's had a lot of injury issues that have slowed his development. He's had some off-the-field issues as well, which are very well-documented," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "That stuff happens."

Gillies hit .341 with a .430 OBP and 44 stolen bases in 2009 with Seattle's high Class A affiliate at High Desert. But since joining the Phillies' organization, Gillies has battled hamstring injuries and had trouble with authority.

Gillies was arrested on cocaine possession in Florida in 2010 (the charges were later dropped) and has been disciplined for multiple infractions in recent seasons, including a three-game team suspension in April for destroying his team's bat rack in frustration.

Gillies entered yesterday hitting .217 with a .281 OBP and three stolen bases in 37 games with the IronPigs this season.

"He was a prospect," Proefrock said. "Stuff happens with prospects. That's what they are until they get to the major leagues."

Aumont, also 25, has reached the big leagues, unlike Gillies, but has struggled to stick when he has arrived. J.C. Ramirez is no longer in the organization (he's in Triple A with Cleveland) after sporting a 7.50 ERA in 18 games with the Phillies last season.

Even if Aumont discovers some kind of consistency in the coming year, the Phillies quite obviously were on the losing side of the Lee trade. But it's worth pointing out that the prior trade that sent him from Cleveland to Philly and the one that sent him from Seattle to Texas were also clear losses for the team trading away the 2008 American League Cy Young winner.

Of the 11 prospects or minor leaguers in those three trades, the best of the bunch is probably Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak, who has hit 46 home runs in the last three seasons. Smoak, moved in the Lee to Texas trade, is batting .211 with seven home runs and a .649 OPS this season.

Other deadline duds involving established veterans include CC Sabathia to Milwaukee and Johan Santana to the Mets, both in 2008. While there are exceptions (the Mets netting Zach Wheeler for Carlos Beltran, the Hunter Pence trade), the team dealing the All-Star almost rarely gets All-Star value in return.

"There are no certainties when you trade for prospects," Proefrock said. "It's the timing of things, too. [Shane] Victorino and Pence - you have to remember free agents or [arbitration eligible] at the end of the year. With dollars attached to them and control issues, you get limited sometimes in what you can get in return. There are all sorts of extenuating circumstances."

Speaking of Pence, Proefrock denied a Houston Chronicle reported this week that an unnamed Phillies official admitted this spring that the team goofed in including outfielder Domingo Santana's name on the player-to-be-named later list. Santana eventually went to Houston, along with top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart and slugging first-base prospect Jonathan Singleton.

"My understanding is that he was on the list we gave them," he said. "[Houston] was scouting him. I don't know where [that story] came from."

Santana, 21, is hitting .297 with nine home runs and an .867 OPS in 61 games at Triple A Oklahoma City this season.

Bench moves

After carrying an extra pitcher for most of the week, following back-to-back 14-inning games that decimated the pitching staff, the Phillies got their bench back in order.

Lefthanded reliever Cesar Jimenez was designated for assignment and veteran infielder Ronny Cedeno was called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley. The 31-year-old Cedeno was hitting .286 in 42 games with the IronPigs.

"Just another infielder that can play shortstop," said manager Ryne Sandberg, who has previously used Cesar Hernandez as Jimmy Rollins' backup at short.

Hernandez had played only three games at shortstop in his professional career before 2014.

Phillers

Darin Ruf (seven-day DL, knee contusion) won't be re-examined until Monday at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Ruf still has swelling in his right knee and limited range of motion after running into a wall while trying to catch a foul ball on Tuesday. He won't begin baseball activities until at least next week . . . Righthander Luis Garcia (right forearm strain) was reinstated from the DL and optioned to Lehigh Valley.

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