The Philadelphia Phillies are six games back from the NL East leading Washington Nationals, but with a -28 run differential and no sustained success all season, it’s a safe bet that there won’t be any October baseball in Philly. Many around the league suspect that the Phillies will be one of very few teams selling at the deadline, as they are one of a few teams that are legitimately out of playoff contention. Here’s an update on the most prominent guys who could be traded before the July 31 deadline:
Cole Hamels, Pitcher
There’s no secret that the Phillies need to completely blow up their uninspiring roster and start over. It’s also no secret that the farm system is less than packed with talent. That makes Ruben Amaro Jr.’s job considerably more difficult. In order to start the process and rebuild the farm system, Amaro may have to deal Hamels. If we’re being honest, the Phillies won’t be looking to contend for a playoff berth until 2017 or 2018. By then, Hamels will be in his mid-30’s and likely won’t be contributing the way he could now. The best option is to start making some phone calls to the teams looking for another ace to help them get to or make a deep run in the playoffs. The New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, or even the St. Louis Cardinals would all be willing to listen.
While I think trading Hamels for a king’s ransom – something he would certainly garner – I don’t think it’s likely that Amaro trades his ace. We’ll likely see the Phillies try to build around Hamels as he ages, a problem Phillies fans are becoming all too familiar with.
Cliff Lee, Pitcher
After a terrible 2009 trade that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle, Amaro will (hopefully) ensure that any trade involving Lee yields MLB-ready talent. Of all the players on the Phillies roster, I think Lee being traded is the most likely…assuming he can get that pesky elbow under control. There are several teams that make a lot of sense for Lee and can offer the MLB-ready talent that Amaro will (hopefully) be looking to acquire.
The Yankees could offer reliever Dellin Betances (32 GP, 1.43 ERA, 282 ERA+, 0.750 WHIP) to fortify an overachieving bullpen and catching prospect Gary Sanchez to eventually take the reigns from Carlos Ruiz.
The Orioles claim that top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman (3-1, 2.74 ERA) are untouchable. While that might be true, they’re looking for a starter to anchor a young rotation through a playoff push. Gausman is an unlikely candidate for the trade because he’s already helped the club this year with some very good pitching. Bundy is allegedly untouchable, but the Orioles know they’ll have to give up a prospect to land someone like Lee. If the Phillies were willing to take on some of Lee’s salary, the Orioles might be a little more receptive to a trade.
Other teams that will be in the market for a pitcher like Lee include the Los Angeles Angels, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately for Atlanta, they’re really underperforming this season and acquiring another young arm might not be as effective as they’d hoped. A veteran in their rotation might be more helpful, but Philly isn’t likely to send Lee to Atlanta without getting overpaid.
Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, Historic Double-Play Combo
I couldn’t bear to separate these two any more than it appears Amaro is going to be able to. Chase Utley has a no-trade clause that I can’t imagine he’ll be willing to waive for any team and Jimmy Rollins has come right out and said he’s never thought about waiving his clause. Amaro knows that Utley and Rollins would be attractive to teams looking for infield upgrades as they make a playoff push, but he also knows that he’d have to do some smooth talking to get these guys to agree to a move.
Quick sentimental side note…Yes, I want the Phillies to win again soon. I loved the World Series and I love when we’re vying for a spot at the top of the standings. I’m also forever grateful to Utley and Rollins for bringing me those moments. Rollins shouldn’t be a leadoff hitter, but he can still contribute to this team going forward with the rebuilding process. Utley is still one of the best second basemen in the National League, and there isn’t much debating that. Keep ‘em, Amaro.
John Mayberry Jr., Outfielder
John Mayberry Jr. is more valuable to the Phillies than others here because he provides some much needed depth in an outfield that can’t seem to stay healthy and played first base effectively when Ryan Howard needs a day off. While that’s true, it’s also true that the Red Sox and Yankees have had scouts out over the last several weeks for Mayberry. While it won’t be an easy steal for either team, Mayberry could likely be had for the right price.
Marlon Byrd, Outfielder
There’s no secret that almost everyone is at least in the conversation when teams call to talk about trades, but no one seems to be talking about Marlon Byrd. Byrd is, admittedly, older than most available guys; however, he’s one of the few Phils performing at a level worthy of a trade. His .260/.311/.474, 13 HR, 45 RBI line makes him an attractive deal for teams looking for outfield depth. It’s unlikely that teams looking for a major impact will come calling, as more prominent outfielders will likely be available, but there will be suitors for Byrd if the Phillies want to dump his salary.
As trade rumors continue to develop, stop back at Phillies 101 for all the news.
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