The decade of the 2010s was a strange run for the Philadelphia Phillies. Coming off back-to-back World Series appearances from 2008-09, they won the National League East in back-to-back seasons from 2010-11 but have since failed to reach the playoffs. Those playoff teams featured an array of star power including Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins, among others.
The 10-year run ended with the Phillies adding Bryce Harper from the rival Washington Nationals, as well as J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, and Jean Segura in the 2018-19 offseason. Yet, they improved by just one game from 2018, and the Nationals won the World Series without Harper. In short: it was a bizarre chapter in Phillies’ history. Subsequently, they made a handful of compelling trades, some good, some regretful.
Over the next several weeks Baseball Essential will be doing a series on the best and worst trade every team in Major League Baseball has made over the last decade. Here is the best and worst trade the Philadelphia Phillies have made since 2010.
The Best Trade the Philadelphia Phillies Have Made Since 2010: Philadelphia Acquires Roy Oswalt From the Houston Astros for J.A. Happ, Jonathan Villar, and Anthony Gose (July 29, 2010)
You’re probably wondering how a fair-ish swap is the decade’s best for the Phillies. Well, they haven’t executed many trades that yielded rave reviews in recent memory. That said, trading for Roy Oswalt was worthwhile for the Phillies.
The Phillies acquired Oswalt to make a potent starting rotation formidable; he did as such. Across 13 appearances, 12 of which were starts, the right-hander posted a 1.74 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. He had hitters guessing, was pitching deep into games, and as stellar as ever. He helped the Phillies seal up their fourth consecutive NL East division crown.
Oswalt’s regular season wonders translated into postseason success, as he surrendered a combined six runs across 19.2 innings in both the NL Division and Championship Series. The savvy right-hander was a sturdy force in 2011, as well. While limited due to injury, Oswalt was able to manufacture a respectable 3.69 ERA and 3.44 FIP and serve as an efficient force. In a rotation that included Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels, Oswalt’s production was more than acceptable for a number-four starter.
Oswalt left the Phillies for the Texas Rangers in May 2012. However, he showed considerable signs of regression, struggled to stay on the hill due to injury, and ultimately retired after the 2013 season. The Phillies got the best of what was left of Oswalt; it was probably more than they expected.
Now, what they traded for Oswalt panned out to be a heavy haul. Happ blossomed into a reliable middle-to-top-of-the-rotation starter; Villar has found success by means of being a steady, line-drive hitter with defensive versatility. While Goss didn’t stick in the majors, Happ and Villar’s continued productivity sting. On the other hand, the Phillies made this trade when they were in win-now mode.
For the better part of the latter half of the 2000s and the beginning parts of the 2010s, they were the team to beat in the NL East and a perennial contender in the NL. In pursuit of capitalizing on an aging core, the Phillies made a move that enhanced their roster, subsequently bolstering their chances of winning the World Series; there’s no shame in that. Isn’t that what people clamor for teams to do?
Oswalt was part of one of the decade’s best starting rotations and an impactful short-term investment for Philadelphia.
The Worst Trade the Philadelphia Phillies Have Made Since 2010: Philadelphia Acquires Nate Schierholtz, Seth Rosin, and Tommy Joseph From the San Francisco Giants for Hunter Pence (July 31, 2012)
Just one year after acquiring him from the Astros, the Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants before the 2012 MLB trade deadline; their return on the outfielder was dreadful.
In July 2012 the Phillies were in stagnation. They were banged up, their older stars were clearly nearing the end of their respective careers, and the Phillies were in third place in the NL East; it was evident that their reign was over. Backtrack a year, and the Phillies acquired Pence as a short and long-term piece to the puzzle. Then they pivoted and went into full-blown rebuilding mode, which included trading the outfielder.
This is a player who was one of the best all-around outfielders in the sport and one of the few bright spots in a rough season for the Philly faithful. Now, he didn’t tear the cover off the ball in the Bay Area, but Pence held down the fort in right field on a team that went on to win the World Series. Pence got back on track in 2013, recording an .822 OPS, a 133 OPS+, and 99 RBIs. The ensuing season he was present for yet another Giants’ World Series championship — where he was a force to be reckoned with.
In a seven-game grudge match with the Kansas City Royals, Pence hit a striking .444 while recording a 1.167 OPS and totaling five RBIs. He came up with big hit after big hit and was a steady force in right field. Pence also appeared in 162 games in both 2013 and 2014. While he struggled to stay on the field due to injury and really tailed off after 2014, Pence is etched into Giants’ history.
Meanwhile in Philly, you could hear crickets. Schierholtz underwhelmed in the 37 games he played for the Phillies in 2012 and then signed with the Chicago Cubs, where he’d go on to have a career year at the plate; Rosin has made four appearances at the MLB level; Joseph was a sneaky power hitter from 2016-17 but hasn’t played in the bigs since the latter year.
You rarely see a team stop on a dime and trade away a reputable player they acquired a year earlier; the Phillies are the outlier. Them projecting to be on the outside looking in at the playoffs over the coming seasons provided some merit behind getting value for productive veterans, but Philly didn’t get equal value for the high-octane outfielder. What they got was discouraging production a year after essentially giving away four prospects (Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton, and Josh Zeid) to acquire Pence. Maybe they could’ve developed a couple of those players?
No matter how you slice it, the Phillies botched this trade.
Stay tuned to Baseball Essential over the next few weeks for more on the best and worst trades made by all 30 MLB clubs over the past 10 years.