There is a lot of chatter out there that both the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals are engaging in a behind-the-scenes bidding war with the Philadelphia Phillies over the services of outfielder Marlon Byrd.
What no one has been mentioning is who the Phillies could get in return for Byrd, but there is only one logical target that the Phillies should want: outfielder prospect Austin Wilson of the Mariners. The Phillies outfield, currently and a couple of years down the road, looks like a barren place without an upcoming star, and Wilson can certainly be that star.
Not only was Wilson a star in high school at Harvard-Westlake (Calif.), he got further seasoning as an outfielder at Stanford. He’s hitting .298 with 11 homers in Single-A ball now, and is rated the team’s fourth-best prospect behind two pitchers and a third baseman. He is no Tyson Gillies. He has “can’t-miss” stamped on his farhead.
From the Mariners’ point-of-view, Wilson is at least a couple of years away from being a solid contributor in the major leagues and they might not have the patience to wait for him. But the Phillies should have that patience. A guy like Byrd could put the Mariners over the top in the AL West race, and the prospect of winning that pennant might be more intriguing than waiting for Wilson to arrive on the scene.
The Phillies, on the other hand, have nothing to sell their fan base right now other than hope. The hope is that the energetic J.J. Crawford arrives in two years to replace the lethargic Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. The hope is that Chase Utley’s knees survive two more years so that Cesar Hernandez can seamlessly step in at second and provide the .300 hitting and flawless fielding he did throughout a stellar minor league career.
There’s not much hope in the outfield now—at least long-term—but adding Wilson would provide that. The Phillies need to demand Wilson from the Mariners or tell them that they are going to deal Byrd to the Royals. It’s as simple as that.