Dave Dombrowski reviews busy Phillies trade deadline: ‘I think we’re better’

ATLANTA — In a flurry of activity that began 2 1/2 hours before Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Phillies addressed three dire needs as they bolstered their squad for a late-season push that will hopefully- them, will end their 10-year playoff drought.

“I think we’re better,” President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said, summing up the day.

In order, the Phillies acquired center fielder Brandon Marsh from the Los Angeles Angels, reliever David Robertson from the Chicago Cubs and starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard from the Angels.

The Syndergaard deal was stitched together moments before the 6 p.m. deadline when the Angels walked away from a different potential deal and phoned the Phillies.

It made a good day of turnover and processing that much better.

“It was important for us,” Dombrowski said. “I was starting to think we weren’t going to have a starting pitcher. The demands were very high. So we’re delighted.

“We added a starting pitcher, we stabilized and improved the bullpen, and we solidified our defense with an everyday position player. We are in a difficult division and there are difficult teams in the race, but I think we are better.

The Phils parted ways with just two of their top prospects in those trades. Receiver Logan O’Hoppe went to the Angels for Marsh and pitcher Ben Brown to the Cubs for Robertson.

The Phils sent former No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak and minor league outfielder Jadiel Sanchez to the Angels for Syndergaard. Moniak has never lived up to his bill with the Phillies and could benefit from a change of scenery.

Dombrowski said the Phils “liked” O’Hoppe but were comfortable letting him go because Marsh has five years of contractual control and huge advantages at one position, center field, which has been a yearly problem for the Phils. He added that JT Realmuto has been fixed at receiver for three more years.

“Brown is probably the one who hurt the most,” Dombrowski said of the 22-year-old, 6-6, power-wielding right-hander who went to the Cubs as part of the Robertson deal. “We like him a lot, but you can’t protect everyone. If you’re trying to make the playoffs, David Robertson is as good a reliever as there is and that’s what it cost us to get him.

The Phils were able to retain their top three pitching prospects – Mick Abel, Andrew Painter and Griff McGarry.

“We never discussed it,” Dombrowski said. “We just didn’t want to trade those guys.”

That hasn’t stopped other clubs from asking – constantly.

“Huge. Off the charts,” Dombrowski said of interest in the trio. “We couldn’t keep people away from those names. Organizationally, we just thought we couldn’t mortgage the future by trading one of these guys.

Although Dombrowski thinks the organization’s best days are on the road, he expects this team to remain in contention for a playoff spot. The Phils lost 13-1 to Atlanta on Tuesday night and are 55-48 with St. Louis. However, the Phils control the third and final wildcard spot in the NL after winning the all-season series with St. Louis. The Phils take on the rest of Syndergaard’s contract — more than $7 million — and plan to exceed the $230 million luxury tax threshold. The property really wants to make the playoffs and see what happens with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola at the top of the rotation. In addition to Tuesday’s improvements in the trade market, the Phils will get their top two clean hitters back in the coming weeks. Jean Segura (broken finger) is expected to be off the injured list on Thursday and Bryce Harper (broken thumb) has started swinging a bat and could be back by the end of the month.

As for the roles the new players will fill…

Syndergaard will enter the rotation, taking the spot vacated by the injured Zach Eflin. The powerfully built 6-6 right-hander no longer throws 100 mph, but he still sits in the mid-90s with a sink on his fastball.

“We think he can be effective in a five- or six-round role,” Dombrowski said. “We weren’t looking for a No. 1 guy. We weren’t in that market.

Dombrowski praised the work of Bailey Falter and Cristopher Sanchez. Both have spent time replacing Eflin and they remain valuable to the team in terms of depth.

Marsh, 24, is a former Angels second-round draft pick and was at one time the organization’s top prospect. He hasn’t hit consistently and his strikeout rate is high at over 35% in his two seasons in the majors. Marsh is, however, “a top-notch defender” in center field, to use Dombrowski’s description. He will get most of the playing time in this position, with Matt Vierling getting time against lefties.

Both Dombrowski and manager Rob Thomson said the Phillies hitting staff, led by hitting coach Kevin Long, spent hours reviewing Marsh’s left-handed shot and approach.

“We think there are some things we can do to help him,” Thomson said. “He’s one of the best center backs in baseball, so that’s an improvement.”

Robertson, 37, has been one of the best stories in baseball this season. He signed a two-year, $23 million deal with the Phillies ahead of the 2019 season, but only played seven games due to an elbow injury that required surgery. He didn’t pitch in 2020 and returned to the majors for 12 games with Tampa Bay last season. With the Cubs this season, Robertson had a 2.23 ERA and 14 saves in 40 1/3 innings. He struck out 11.4 batters over nine innings.

Robertson has been playoff-tested since his time with the Yankees — he was part of the 2009 Yankees team that beat the Phillies in the World Series — and he’s motivated to help the Phillies after he first cracked in town.

“He was very disappointed to be injured,” Thomson said. “I think he felt bad about it, really.”

The Phillies hope to have Robertson in uniform for Wednesday afternoon’s game in Atlanta. Marsh and Syndergaard, who hail from the West Coast, will likely join the team Thursday in Philadelphia.

As Gene Hackman said in Hoosiers, “This is your team.” It’s better than a few days ago. Time will tell if that’s good enough to break the playoff drought.

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