Will The Philadelphia Phillies Finally Blow Up The Core?
The All-Star break is here. Teams will be using the time away from the game to determine whether or not they are contenders or pretenders and who will be buying and selling assets. In the case of the Philadelphia Phillies, who are currently sitting at 42-53 and 10.0 games back of the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves in the NL East, I truly believe they will finally be selling and will blow up the core in return for young pieces.
Before we get into who will likely be traded, let’s identify who the Phillies are likely to keep around past the 2014 deadline (the bigger name players):
- Cole Hamels– LHP
- Cody Asche– 3B
- John Mayberry Jr.– UTIL
- Jimmy Rollins– SS
- Ben Revere– CF
- Domonic Brown– RF
- Carlos Ruiz– C
- Wil Nieves– C
- Kyle Kendrick– RHP
These are just a few of the names I can’t see the Phillies dealing due to contract statuses and ages. Here are the names I can see the Phillies moving at the trade deadline. I will provide a small synopsis with contract status and what team would be the best fit for them:
- A.J. Burnett– RHP
Burnett signed a 1 year deal with the Pennsylvania rival Phillies after resurrecting his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Burnett would add a veteran arm to any rotation he would join and provide stability for the stretch run. Burnett is currently pitching to the tune of a 3.83 ERA (3.98 xFIP). His K% is down from 2013 as is his average fastball velocity but Burnett is still throwing the ball decently enough to warrant a nice little return. The team I feel could push for Burnett’s services is the Baltimore Orioles due to rotation need, Baltimore’s off-season attempt at signing him, and proximity to Burnett’s home.
- Cliff Lee– LHP
The left-handed Lee is currently on the 60 day DL but has begun a rehab assignment for the Phillies High-A affiliate in Clearwater. The issue with Lee is an elbow issue and Lee isn’t getting any younger with some big time money owed to him for the rest of 2014, 2015 plus there is an option for 2016. Whoever is willing to pick up Lee needs to have the money and the risk of elbow problems persisting. Lee has only made 10 starts this season but was throwing to the tune of a 3.18 ERA (2.92 xFIP). Lee’s velocity is down, but he still is posting more than respectable strikeout totals and still doesn’t walk many batters. The Phillies would be wise to dump Lee on whoever comes calling to shed salary and net a return of two or three prospects. Pegging a team interested in Lee is tough to do but I’m going off the board and will say the Seattle Mariners COULD be interested in bringing him back. Reports have had the Mariners display interest in David Price. Lee would likely come cheaper in terms of prospects and would solidify the Mariners rotation.
Papelbon is currently throwing the ball near the level of his days with the Boston Red Sox. He sports a dominant 1.21 ERA (2.33 FIP, 3.90 xFIP) and has 22 saves in 38 games pitched. Papelbon’s stuff isn’t nearly as electric as it was in Boston but is still getting the job done for the Phillies. Papelbon’s contract takes him to the end of 2015 with an option in 2016 with big money coming his way. Team’s vying for Papelbon’s services would be desperate for bullpen help due to them picking up a ton of salary. Two teams come to mind when thinking of back end of the bullpen: the Orioles and the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers have had terrible seasons in the back end from Joe Nathan and they don’t need his late inning antics in the stretch run. I’m going with the Tigers being the best fit but the Orioles are not far behind. If Nathan can figure it out, the Tigers might not need Papelbon but right now, they do.
- Chase Utley– 2B
The long-time Phillie, who surely could be a hall of famer when it is all said and done. The second baseman has earned nicknames of Mr. October and Mr. November in the Phillies hay day when they won the World Series in 2008. Utley is 35 and has a contract that expires at the end of this season but has three options for the next three seasons after this season is done. Utley’s contract isn’t horrible to pick up, but team’s need to be cautious of his old lower body which has experienced trouble over the past few years. He still has power, hits for a good average, and sports a good glove for a 35 year old. Utley would net a good return for the Phillies and the team with the biggest need for a second basemen is the Toronto Blue Jays. Utley is a left handed bat who can hit lefties and destroy righties, a perfect fit for the Blue Jays. Utley is a Phillie fan favorite but his days could be limited as a Phillie in order for them to re-stock the farm.
- Marlon Byrd– RF
Byrd has come a long way since leaving the Chicago Cubs. Byrd rejuvenated his career with the New York Mets in 2013 and was dealt to the Pirates and was a huge contributor to the Pirates run to the NLDS. Byrd is 36 and his contract takes him to the end of 2015 with an option for 2016. Byrd strikes out a fair bit but has power and a decent average. His defense sucks but would make an excellent DH for a team looking for a seasoned veteran. In my mind the team with the biggest need for a DH is the Kansas City Royals. Yes, Billy Butler is there and will be long term but Butler isn’t performing anywhere near where the Royals need him to be in order to contend. The Royals could make room for Byrd and find ways to plug him into the lineup. Teams can never have enough depth so I have the Royals being a fit. The Mariners are rumored to be kicking the tires on attempting to acquire Byrd as well.
- Ryan Howard– 1B
This was the toughest name to put on this list. Howard has been the face of the franchise (though, Utley, Rollins, and Hamels have a case for that too) for a while now but the aging first basemen is on a steady decline downwards. He currently is batting .220 and still strikes out a ton. His defense isn’t anything special either and his WAR currently sits at -0.2. Howard still possesses power and could also be a decent DH. Howard still has a contract that takes him to 2016 plus an option year. Perhaps this season isn’t the one in which he is dealt but if a team came knocking, I really don’t think the Phillies would hesitate in dealing him. Right now, the New York Yankees would be a nice fit. Imagine Ryan Howard hitting in Yankee Stadium to that short porch in right field.
These names are one’s that could be on the move. I think the Phillies could begin the firesale after the all-star break. Teams will come calling for the Phillies aging core and perhaps some on the first list I made will be dealt and some on the second list will be kept. Regardless, the fire sale is coming in Philly.