Matt Klentak’s first major move as the Phillies general manager was trading closer Ken Giles
With the rebuild underway, the Phillies had a crucial decision to make heading into the 2015 Winter Meetings. Should they trade a potential all-star closer Ken Giles for a package of young talent, or make him a building block for the future?
In a move that brought some mixed reaction, the Phillies shipped 100-mile Giles to Houston for five players, including a former number-one overall pick.
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The return was substantial , but was it worth moving a fan-favorite for a package of question marks?
Phillies get Mark Appel, Harold Arauz, Thomas Eshelman, Brett Oberholtzer, Vince Velasquez.
Astros get RP Ken Giles, INF Jonathan Arauz
Just two weeks into the season, the Phillies already cashed in on the trade, seeing Vincent Velasquez pitch a three-hit, 16 strikeout shutout in his second appearance with the team.
Velasquez was one of the Phillies best pitchers in 2016, striking out 152 batters in 131 innings before being shutdown to protect his arm.
Starting pitcher Vince Velasquez #28 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates his shut out victory at the end of the game against the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park on April 14, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 3-0. April 14, 2016| Crédito: Hunter Martin (Getty Images)
Appel, a former first overall pick who’s dealt with injuries, started just eight games for Lehigh Valley in 2016. The righty had a 4.46 ERA in 38.1 innings, with 34 strikeouts and 20 walks. The organization shut him down for the season after he began to suffer shoulder and elbow injuries.
Eshelman started 11 games for Clearwater, and was promoted to Reading in time to make 13 starts. Between the two minor league organizations, the 22-year-old righty had a 4.25 ERA with 119 strikeouts and just 28 walks.
Arauz pitched for both the Gulf Coast League and Single-A Lakewood, compiling a 3.86 ERA in 107.1 innings.
Oberholtzer pitched in 26 games out of the Phillies bullpen, and was a reliable long-man until his release late in the summer.
While the Phillies enjoyed the pieces they received in the trade, Houston saw Giles struggle out of the bullpen. At one point, Giles was demoted from the closers role, and blew five saves. The flame-throwing righty had a career-high 102 strikeouts in 65.2 innings.
The teenage infielder Arauz that joined Vinny in the deal spent his entire season in rookie ball, and hit just .249. He did steal 19 bases, but he has a long ways to go at just 17-years-old.
One year later, it appears Klentak made out well with the Giles trade. Vinny Velasquez looks to be a star in this rotation, and fans hope Appel can stay healthy and reach Philadelphia at some point in his career. Anything else from Arauz or Eschelman will be gravy on-top of a great trade.