The Philadelphia Phillies have reportedly had trade discussions with the Tampa Bay Rays about center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, per Matt Gelb of The Athletic.
Gelb states that according to two league sources, Philadelphia has had trade talks with Tampa Bay about acquiring the three-time Gold Glove Award winner.
With top free agent center fielder Starling Marte heading to Flushing, NY on a four-year, $78 million deal with the New York Mets, and the Minnesota Twins agreeing with premium trade piece Byron Buxton on a seven-year, $100 million contract extension, the Phillies have been forced to set their sights elsewhere. But perhaps that was their plan all along.
While Kiermaier is no power hitter and just about average offensively, batting .259/.328/.388 in 2021, Gelb notes that Phillies center fielders have produced a .655 OPS over the last two seasons, which ranks 29th in MLB. Even Kiermaier's average bat would be an improvement, and his defense in center would be an immense upgrade from what the Phillies have been trotting out there for the last several seasons.
Acquiring Kiermaier via trade would be a logical move by Philadelphia. Kiermaier is only 31-years-old, and according to Gelb, he is set to make $12 million in 2022, but for luxury tax purposes his contract has an $8.9 million average annual value. This means that the Phillies would still have room to acquire the power bat they're looking for.
This "power bat" could be one of free agents Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant, or Kyle Schwarber. However, if the Phillies are looking to make a huge trade splash, they could also look to Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins, or Pittsburgh Pirates' Bryan Reynolds, but that would come at a much higher cost that the Phillies may not be willing to surrender. Therefore, Kiermaier would make a lot of sense in Philadelphia.
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