The Major League Baseball trade deadline passed with no action coming out of the Philadelphia Phillies front office, at least in the form of actual transactions. I know, I was surprised too. I thought moving Michael Young was going to be all but a formality on deadline day, but the Phillies made no moves with any players on the current roster or from the farm system. What we have seen this season is what we have for the rest of the year unless any waiver moves are made by the next deadline.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported the New York Yankees had an interest in catcher Carlos Ruiz and Young. Citing Yankees GM Brian Cashman as a source Wednesday, Heyman reported the Yankees spoke to the Phillies on the phone about sending a prospect to the Phillies in exchange for Michael Young. Amaro rejected the deal according to Heyman. Heyman also reports the Yankees asked about Ruiz but were told the catcher is off the table.
Amaro was a guest on 94 WIP this morning and he was derisive in his dismissal of Heyman's reporting.
"Jon Heyman is a good reporter but he's been wrong before," Amaro said at one point in rejecting the report of the talks between the Yankees and the Phillies. Amaro was grilled by morning show host Angelo Cataldi about the decisions to not move any players, but the Phillies GM fired back suggesting no moves were available to improve the team for now and in the future.
Young and Ruiz are both free agents at the end of the season. With the Phillies sinking deeper and deeper out of the NL East and NL Wild Card standings, if the Yankees were willing to give the Phillies anything for either (or both) players, it is difficult to defend any decision not to accept the proposals. That said, we do not know what the Yankees were offering and how those prospects or players might fit in to future success with the Phillies.
On the topic of Chase Utley, who is set for free agency this off-season but tied to rumors of a potential contract extension with the Phillies, Amaro said replacing him would be too difficult.
"Talent has become so sparse around baseball, I don't know if possible to reproduce production of a guy like Chase Utley," Amaro said. Amaro also suggested at another point in the radio interview injuries should never serve as an excuse for the ultimate failure of a team, and then proceeded to use injuries as an excuse.
Criticism of Amaro's handling of this team is more than fair. A team in obvious sell mode failed to do anything at the trade deadline. Amaro did say on multiple opportunities he expects the team to make moves to improve in the next two months for the future success of the team. That, to me, suggests Amaro has a plan jotted down that he has yet to share any details about. By his own admission in the interview, the free agent market is not the best but that may be where he is looking for the upcoming offseason. If that is the case, I'm inclined to wait and see what he does, and let's face the idea that the Phillies are not going to look to make any changes with the general manager position. If they held on to Ed Wade for as long as they did, Amaro should feel pretty safe in his office.
So, where does Amaro go form here?
The Phillies are scheduled to free up a nice chunk of payroll this offseason, giving Amaro some money to work with. Here is a rundown of Phillies eligible for new contracts at the end of the season, along with their financial commitment for 2013:
- Roy Halladay has an option for 2014 valued at $20 million. The option is guaranteed if Halladay meets certain criteria, but his being on the disabled list for as long as he has been (and will be) will prevent that option from being guaranteed.
- Michael Young is paid $16 million this season, but the Texas Rangers are on the hook for $10 million.
- Chase Utley is making $15 million this season and it sounds as though he could be lining up an extension worth $13 million per year. For now, let's pretend Utley is entering free agency.
- Carlos Ruiz is making $5 million this season as part of a club option for 2013.
- Kyle Kendrick is being paid $4.5 million this season, the final year of a two-year contract
- John Lannan is on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.
- John McDonald is making $1.5 million this season.
- Antonio Bastardo was resigned in January to avoid arbitration at a price tag of $1.4 million.
- Laynce Nix is making $1.35 million.
- Delmon Young was signed at a bargain price of $750,000 but how much of a bargain that has been is questionable.
- There are also a good handful of players called up from the minor leagues or on short-term deals that will need to be addressed including Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, Kevin Frandsen, John Mayberry Jr., Erik Kratz and more.
If the Phillies cut ties with all of the players listed above (aside form the last group mentioned), it would free up $58 million of payroll. Let's now calculate Utley returning for $13 million against the 2014 payroll and you now have $45 million to work with entering the offseason. I'm not sure where Halladay and Ruiz fit in to Amaro's plans, but the time to move on from them may be now. Brian McCann could be a free agent this off-season and might be a nice pick-up to play in Citizens Bank Park, and Erik Kratz can stay on as a decent option behind the plate. Kendrick may need to turn things around quickly if he wants to return to the Phillies in 2014, but I would guess the team brings back either he or Lannan in 2014 to go with Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez in the starting line-up, with an IronPig filling out the fifth spot in the rotation (Jonathan Pettibone?).
We also must keep in mind that Domonic Brown is going to have to get a new contract, and it is possible he will be paid pretty nicely given his time at the major league level and an all-star appearance this season. The Phillies have been able to keep Brown on one-year contracts dating back to 2010 but it is time to get him settled in with a multi-year deal. If he returns from this injury and has a strong second half, it will greatly help his cause at the bargaining table.
This will be a critical offseason for the Phillies. I have stated before I don't know if I trust Amaro to be the guy calling the shots. Based off of the interview he had on WIP this morning, Amaro is either blind to the potential reality of the franchise's situation moving forward or has a master plan that will surprise everyone in the process. Given his track record, it could unfortunately do both.