There are two days until the MLB trade deadline, and it’s high time that the Philadelphia Phillies start trading some of their key players. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has alluded to the issue for quite some time but now that the Atlanta Braves decimated the Phillies in a three-game series, the Phillies need to be sellers.
They’re 45-57, 16.5 games back of the Washington Nationals in the NL East race. They’re 12 games under .500 and they’re over a dozen games back in the wild card race. After playing sub-.500 ball all season, there’s really no reason to expect the Phillies to suddenly turn it on down the stretch and play themselves back into the postseason hunt.
That’s why it’s time to trade many of the players on the 25-man roster. A breakdown of who should get traded and where they could go:
Contract Status: Three years, $22M through 2012
Why a Team Would Want Him: Shane Victorino is an underrated outfielder, as he has power, runs well, and plays superb defense in center field. He is 31 and having the worst year of his career, but that doesn’t mean many teams won’t be asking about him. The Phillies won’t be bringing Victorino back for 2013 even if they don’t trade him, considering he’s going to be asking for about four to five years at $11-13 million per season. The Phillies can’t afford to spend $50 million on Victorino with the commitments they’ve already made to other players, especially considering the team desperately needs to get younger.
Top Candidates: Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, Pttsburgh Pirates
Percent Chance He Gets Dealt: 65%
Contract Status: Three years, $24M through 2012
Why a Team Would Want Him: For much of the season, Joe Blanton struggled. He took a 5.40 ERA into his June 14 start against the Minnesota Twins, but he’s been very effective since then. In the last six weeks, Blanton has made eight starts, going 3-3 (with the Phillies 5-3 in those games). He has a 3.55 ERA, he’s allowing a .233/.251/.395 slash line against him, and he has a ridiculous strikeout to walk ratio with 54 K’s to just six free passes. That’s got to be very intriguing for a contending team.
Top Candidates: Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals
Percent Chance He Gets Dealt: 45%
Contract Status: Three years, $18M through 2012 with a $5.5M option for 2013
Why a Team Would Want Him: Placido Polanco has really struggled with the bat this season, as he’s down to just .255 with two home runs in over 300 plate appearances, and he’s on the DL now with a back injury. But he is absolutely phenomenal with his defense, as he has the highest fielding percentage for a third baseman in the game’s history, and his .990 mark at the age of 36 is leading the league. Polanco would be a very quality utility infielder, as he can also play second base, and he plays it very well.
Top Candidates: Baltimore Orioles
Percent Chance He Gets Dealt: 30%
Contract Status: Three years, $33M through 2014 with a $11M vesting option for 2015
Why a Team Would Want Him: He’s already 33 ½ years old but Jimmy Rollins is still an above-average shortstop, even if he’s nowhere near the player he was when he won the league MVP award in 2007. Rollins is on pace to become the third shortstop of his age to put up at least 15 home runs and 30 steals in the same season, and he’s still great defensively. Factor in that he’s a natural-born leader who would be an excellent veteran presence in the clubhouse, and that his contract is manageable (about $10 million per season), and some teams will be calling about J-Roll.
Top Candidates: Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics
Percent Chance He Gets Dealt: 15%
Contract Status: Super-2 arbitration eligible at $10.4M, becomes free agent after 2013
Why a Team Would Want Him: There’s a lot to like about Hunter Pence. He will be under team control through the 2013 season, so whatever team gets him will have him for the remaining two months of this season plus next year (and the years after that should they want to sign him to a free agent deal). Pence is an underrated power hitter who is on pace for over 30 home runs this season, and he’s still just 29 years old.
Top Candidates: San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees
Percent Chance He Gets Dealt: 15%
Contract Status: One year, $800K
Why a Team Would Want Him: The Phillies didn’t expect much from Juan Pierre in 2012, as he and Scott Podsednik were expected to compete for a spot on the 25-man roster. Now only did Pierre win a job in spring training, he’s been the main starter in left field all season, and he’s played very well. Pierre is hitting .305 with 23 steals in 27 attempts (a career-best 85 percent), and he has excellent bat control (just 15 strikeouts in nearly 300 plate appearances).
Top Candidates: Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles
Percent Chance He Gets Dealt: 35%
Contract Status: Two years, $8M through 2012 with a club option for 2013 at $4M
Why a Team Would Want Him: Ty Wigginton isn’t going to put any team over the edge but he can be a solid contributor as a right-handed bat and a utility infielder with the ability to play both first and third base. Wigginton is having a miserable year defensively and his offensive numbers are down, but he could be a solid backup if a club is interested.
Top Candidates: New York Yankees
Percent Chance He Gets Dealt: 25%
Contract Status: Five years, $120M through 2015 with a vesting option in 2016 for $27.5M
Why a Team Would Want Him: When he’s on, Cliff Lee is a top 10 pitcher in the game. Even though he’s been slightly off this year (and his record makes it look worse), he’s having a very solid season in terms of his peripheral numbers – 8.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 4.87 K:BB, 1.200 WHIP, 3.41 FIP, and 3.15 xFIP which have amounted to 2.3 WAR so far this season, 25th best in the game. He’s a left-handed pitcher, he’s an ace with a proven track record of coming through in the clutch and in the playoffs, he has impeccable control (evidenced by his strikeout to walk ratio), and he seems to be hitting his prime as he gets older.
Top Candidates: Texas Rangers
Percent Chance He Gets Dealt: 10%
What I Think Will Happen
I envision the Phillies shipping Victorino somewhere for a middle level reliever, and maybe including a player like Wigginton or Polanco in the trade to get the reliever and a decent prospect. Blanton may or may not get traded, and I’ll venture to guess that he will. Lee is making way too much to get traded, and I think Rollins will stay because the Phillies didn’t sign him to a three-year deal to trade him right away. Pence may get traded in the offseason but he will stay for now. And I think Pierre may go, but if I had to guess, I’ll say he stays.