By process of elimination, the four major candidates involved in trade rumors for the Philadelphia Phillies have either knocked themselves out of the running or were knocked out by circumstances. There are three days left until the MLB non-waiver trade deadline, and it appears that Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley and Jonathan Papelbon will not be traded.
Hamels probably will not be dealt as the Phillies are demanding four prospects from the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will likely give only two. Lee has had two bad outings and a salary of $25 million next season. Utley is balking at leaving Philadelphia, and the market for Papelbon dried up when two potential suitors got closers.
That leaves one guy: Marlon Byrd. The Seattle Mariners have sent scouts out to the last two Phillies series with the specific intention of checking on Byrd, and the Phillies outfielder has not disappointed. His 20 homers rank him fourth in MLB, and he’s hitting .269 for the season (but .289 in the month of July).
The Mariners and the Phillies have had conversions, and sources say the Phillies are demanding two prospects for Byrd, one of them being Class-A outfielder Austin Wilson, a five-tool player. That makes sense since both Wilson and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. are both Stanford grads.
The haggle right now is the second prospect the Phillies are demanding in the deal. The Mariners want to offer a pitcher, either Brandon Maurer and Erasmo Ramirez, but the hitting-poor Phillies are asking for another outfielder, Gabriel Guerrero. That does not seem to be an insurmountable obstacle, nor does the Phillies paying some of Byrd’s contract. He’s guaranteed another $2.6 million in 2012 and $8 million next season.
While Phillies fans do not want to see Byrd go, the greater need is to start restocking that farm system, and that’s why this trade needs to be consummated.