Luis Robert Jr.


Luis Robert Jr.


Getty

Luis Robert Jr.

The Philadelphia Phillies need another outfield bat. As luck would have it, power-hitting centerfielder Luis Robert Jr. is reportedly available, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.

Passan wrote that the Chicago White Sox are “open for business” in his early 2024 MLB Trade Deadline preview on June 4. He also classified the Phillies as “definite adders,” and suggested that they have the organizational depth to add a big name.

“President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski tends to adhere to a go-big-or-go-home philosophy,” Passan wrote. “And whether it’s Robert, [Randy] Arozarena or even [Kyle] Tucker, he’s got the minor league system to convince an on-the-fence team to deal a true impact outfielder.”

Passan also suggested that the Phillies could move Edmundo Sosa to the outfield once Trea Turner returns from injury. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, Turner suffered a setback a couple days ago, experiencing leg soreness during a workout, per MLB.com.

Robert’s availability is in contrast to what Bob Nightengale reported last week, saying the White Sox were not interested in moving him.

“The Chicago White Sox are resisting all temptation to trade center fielder Luis Robert Jr., who is scheduled to return in June after being sidelined two months,” Nightengale wrote on May 26. “Robert may be their best trade asset but he’s only 26 and is under team control through the 2027 season.”

But resisting temptation implies that the right offer could sway the White Sox. As Passan said, Dombrowski is a “go-big-or-go-home” type of guy.

At 44-19, the Phillies head into their London trip with an 8-game lead in the National League East. That has them tied with the Yankees for the best record in baseball. FanGraphs gives them the third-best chance to win the World Series at 11.5%, trailing only the Dodgers (21.1%) and Yankees (14.9%).


Luis Robert on the Phillies

Robert would be an instant upgrade over Johan Rojas in centerfield. After a promising 2023 in which Rojas hit .302 and stole 14 bases over 59 games, he’s yet to find his way at the plate. Though he has swiped an additional 14 bags so far this season, he is hitting .234 with an OPS+ of 65.

Robert was an All-Star in 2023, but he would come to the Phillies with some risk. He has played in just 7 games this year while missing extensive time with a strained hip flexor. As Tori Rubinstein of Yahoo Sports points out, Robert has missed 36% of available games between 2021 and 2023.

The good news is that Robert’s contract makes him relatively low risk (as long as you don’t count whatever asking price the White Sox have for him). He is in the midst of a six-year, $50 million deal with the White Sox in which he will make $12.5 million in 2024. His contract, however, is not guaranteed beyond the $15 million he will make next year. Should Robert stay healthy and continue performing at the All-Star levels he showed in 2023, then they can have him for a pricey-but-reasonable $20 million in 2026 and 2027.


Other Outfield Options

Passan also listed Arozarena and Tucker as possibilities for the Phillies, but each comes with a downside.

Arozarena has struggled mightily in 2024, hitting only .166 in 211 at bats. He has a three-year track record as an above-average hitter with some legendary postseason moments, so the Phillies would have to bank on him returning to old form.

Tucker is performing the best out of the three possibilities Passan mentioned. Not only has he accumulated 3.6 bWAR so far, but his 19 home runs are second-best in the Majors behind Aaron Judge. His asking price would be high regardless of the season the Astros were having, but with Dana Brown insisting Houston is not ready to sell, he might not be available at all. If he is, the price might be astronomical.



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