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NL East rivals, Phillies and Nationals, renewed their trading relationship when they agreed on a deal to send Howie Kendrick and cash to Washington in exchange for left-handed pitcher McKenzie Mills and international amateur pool signing bonus pool space. This is the first trade between the two clubs since 2015, when the Phillies dumped troublesome closer Jonathan Papelbon onto the Nationals for Nick Pivetta, who is currently in the Phillies rotation.
Mills, 21, is ranked as the Nationals 18th best prospect, according to MLB.com, and was a South Atlantic League All-Star this year. He made 18 starts for Single-A Hagerstown, going 12-2 with a 3.01 ERA. His 118 strikeouts to just 22 walks gave him a 5.36 K/BB ratio, in 104 2/3 innings pitched. Mills was just promoted by Washington to Single-A Potomac, their advanced low-A team yesterday, and he could be assigned to the Clearwater Threshers by the Phillies. Here is MLB.com’s scouting report on Mills, who enters the Phillies’ top 30 prospects list at #24:
A tall and lanky left-hander, Mills features a deceptive delivery and quick arm that generates a lively fastball in the low 90s that he’s still learning to command. Scouts anticipate more velocity moving forward and they also like how he attacks hitters up in the zone. Mills’ above-average curveball is his go-to secondary offering, and the Nationals have been pleased with the development of his changeup, projecting as a third average-or-better pitch for the lefty.
Mills’ success in 2017 is a product of his capacity to make adjustments, as his feel for repeating his delivery more consistently has led to improved fastball command and more effective use of his secondaries. He has the makings of a back-end starter on paper, though his ceiling might still be emerging.
Acquiring Howie Kendrick is good move for the Nationals because he gives them a lot more depth off the bench and his ability to play a multitude of positions can be a big help in the long run. After a down year offensively in 2016, Kendrick has returned to his old self, slashing .340/.397/.454 with eight doubles, two home runs and 16 RBI’s in only 39 games played. Many thought Kendrick would likely be dealt in August due to his two recent stints on the disabled list, but it did not deter the Nationals from wanting to bring him in now.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak pulled off a solid deal here, adding a young pitcher with some good upside, while receiving international amateur signing pool bonus space is huge. The trade deadline is only a few days away and look for the Phillies to stay very active.