The move on its face, isn’t that surprising. The Braves fell out of any kind of playoff contention long ago while the Angels are right in the mix of the wild card race. This is what happens. Non-playoff teams sell off its productive veterans to clubs looking to punch their ticket to October baseball.
And make no mistake Phillips has been a productive veteran this year, at a somewhat surprising level. Some thought the 36-year-old was passed the days of putting up productive numbers but Phillips has slashed .291/.329/.423 in 2017 with a 96 wRC+ and a 1.6 WAR. Combine that with above average defense, adequate playoff experience, and a positive clubhouse presence, it’s not hard to understand why another club would want him.
Especially the Angels.
Coming into tonight LA has gotten a .589 OPS and a 59 wRC+ collectively from their 2B, ranking 30th in MLB. And it’s not from a lack of trying. LA has tried 5 different guys out there this year, all in rather unspectacular fashion and Brandon solidifies the position for them. It makes sense.
Where it might not make sense for some is the return. In return Atlanta received 29 year AAA catcher Tony Sanchez. Sanchez is a former top 5 pick in the MLB draft who just never figured it out. He was drafted out of college 8 years ago and in that time has amassed all of 155 PAs with a career WAR total of 0.1. He’s a journeyman non-prospect and that has some confused.
But in reality, this is just a continuation of a couple trends we saw during the trade deadline. For one, the market simply wasn’t paying for rentals. Phillips’ contract is up after this year and teams were more hesitant than ever to part with any real talent for players who would only be around for 2017. And two, the market for position players just never really developed. While pitchers were still bringing in decent prospect hauls, position players were being had for almost nothing.
The best example of both these trends was OF J.D. Martinez. Martinez is pending FA who was having a fantastic year with Detroit and was far and away the best bat on the market. And shockingly to most, Arizona acquired him for almost nothing. That set the market.
And Phillips isn’t anywhere near the player Martinez is. Combine that with LA only having him for one month guaranteed, and it’s really not hard to see why Phillips was basically given away.
Atlanta can now give playing time to players who look to be around for 2018 while LA added one more solid piece for a final playoff push. It makes sense. It’s uninspiring if you’re a Braves fan but this was just a terrible year to be selling a free agent to-be position player. Angels took advantage of a favorable market and Atlanta did the best they could.
Onward we go.