All of the hope and excitement of the Phillies six game win streak that started a few weeks ago now seems like a distant memory. During their last ten games, the Fightin’ Phils are at a mediocre 3-7 record, while losing their last four games. It seems like that microscopic glimmer of hope that this team could miraculously put enough wins together to make a serious run for October is now dead.
One date that most Phillies fans have circled on their calendar this season is July 31st. During the Phillies playoff run from 2007-2011, the trade deadline was an exciting time because the team had a buyer’s mentality rather than a sellers. Unfortunately, just like last year the Phillies will look to make the best deal possible to set this franchise up for future success.
Let’s take a look at the possible moves that Ruben Amaro Jr. and the organization could make leading up to the deadline:
Cole Hamels: Obviously, the marquee trade piece and Ruben Amaro Jr’s “ace” in the hole. With rumor after rumor last year coming out, everyone waited patiently to see where the home-grown starting pitcher would end up. Hamels’ trade situation however, much like most of the players on this roster, has the Phillies in a bit of a tricky spot. Because of the enormous $144 million contract that he signed back in 2012, he has a no trade clause list that is 20 teams long. The teams that are approved by Hamels are: Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, and Rangers. The Red Sox really bulked up their every day lineup this offseason, leaving their starting rotation vulnerable. Sources around the league think that the Red Sox are a pretty obvious candidate to land the Phillies ace. Their minor league teams are full of young promising prospects that would defiantly help out the re-building Phillies. Blake Swihart, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Henry Owens, are just a few names that were tossed around this offseason with the rumors that Hamels would be moved to Beantown.
Jonathan Papelbon: At the end of 2011, the Philadelphia Phillies went out and signed Jonathan Papelbon to the largest contract ever for a professional closer, 4 years $50 Million. To this day it is one of the more questionable signings during RAJ tenure as general manager. At the time, the Phillies still had hope to make the playoffs the next year, and knew they needed a veteran closer once October rolled around. Now in 2015, as the Phillies became sellers at the trade deadline they are looking to unload the former World Series winning closer to a team that needs help on the back-end of their bullpen. Pap now has 11 saves on the year, posting an impressive 1.50 ERA and .89 WHIP with no blown saves so far. One of the main reasons it has been so hard to move Papelbon is because of all of the money that is owed from his contract. There have been multiple reports showing that the Phillies are willing to eat most of his salary to get out of the contract. They are looking for a mid to high level prospect in return for the veteran closer. Along with Cole Hamels, the Red Sox make the most sense. It seems like Papelbon would like to make a return to Boston and help them make a deep run in the playoffs again. Other than the Red Sox, there have been reports of the Blue Jays, Tigers and recently division rival Miami Marlins. Assuming teams are not willing to take on Pap’s big contract, it looks like the Phillies would have to just bite the bullet on this one and eat most of the salary. It would be nice to unload him for a prospect or two and get the future closer Ken Giles some save opportunities.
Ryan Howard: Phillies fans know they are in trouble when it comes to aging players with large contracts; they have been hearing it for years. It’s a common and annoying theme that just doesn’t seem to be going away. The next trade piece the Phillies hold is first baseman Ryan Howard. “The Big Piece” is actually having a surprisingly decent season; hitting .256 with 10 home runs and 24 runs batted in. His name has littered the rumor mill this year, especially with American League teams looking for a big bat at the designated hitter spot. Some of the teams that have been linked to Howard are: the Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, and the Tampa Bay Rays. I think that it is well over due to ship Howard off to a team that needs a DH, giving younger guys with more to prove like Ruf, Asche or even Franco a chance to get major reps over at first base.
Other Notable trade pieces: Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, Aaron Harang and Carlos Ruiz all had their names brought up in trade rumors this year. It’s hard to say who has more upside in a trade and who could possibly be around for the long haul. Obviously with Harang being 37 years old, it only makes sense to strike while the iron is hot and see if the Phillies could score a mid level prospect or two for the experienced starting pitcher. Also, who knows how the future of the outfield is going to unfold. Is the rule 5 draft pick, diamond in the rough Odubel Herrera the answer at center field? Does Roman Quinn/ Aaron Altherr/ or Kelly Dugan have a brighter future than the core outfielders of Ben Revere and Dom Brown? Who is going to be the bridge player for Chase Utley at second base, or Chooch behind the plate? It seems like there are just too many unanswered questions at the moment. We will know more about the state of the team and the direction the organization is going once the July 31st trade deadline passes.