The trade deadline is creeping up with time quickly running out. The Phillies, it seems, are running out of options that will show any signs of a brighter future. This is not good for a team that by all accounts should be in a perfect situation to be a seller. ESPN’s Buster Olney was told by a rival executive the Phillies should set-up a yard sale at Citizens Bank Park this week…
One rival exec says that if he were operating the Phillies, he’d run it like a yard sale and make it clear: Some stuff is going to be sold.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 28, 2014
The only problem with yard sales is that they only sell junk. Yard sales also never have the sellers willing to pay for a part of the cost of its merchandise. This may be the situation the Phillies need to prepare to act on, because the contracts for any trade pieces worth moving are a major concern.
Make no mistake about it, this is a very tough position for the Phillies but it is one Ruben Amaro set-up as general manager of the team by offering expensive contracts with little wiggle room to get out of it down the line. Perhaps we are seeing the cost of a lack of a long-term vision with clarity.
Ryan Howard is owed $25 million in 2015 and another $25 million in 2016, with a $23 million club option in 2017 with a $10 million buyout. Considering Howard’s downward trends on offense, that is one heck of a pricetag that is scaring away even American League teams according to a recent column by Jayson Stark.
Cliff Lee‘s recent stay on the injured reserve list accompanied by his hefty price tag through the end of 2015 and option for 2016 is also a concern. Lee has not exactly been 2009 Cliff Lee, of course. The Phillies may be dangling Cole Hamels out there, but it appears that is only to see if any team would be desperate enough to add him that they would be willing to completely overpay for his services. I doubt Hamels is going anywhere because I don’t think the Phillies would be willing to move Hamels. Moving A.J. Burnett (to Pittsburgh) would be ideal, but the Pirates appear to be concerned about keeping the brief fan-favorite pitcher through 2015. Stark also notes the Phillies have shown no interest in moving Chase Utley.
Jimmy Rollins recently guaranteed himself an $11 million contract for 2015 as long as he does not end the season on the disabled list, so I have some doubts the Phillies would be able to move him at this point. Remember, Rollins would have to approve any potential trade due to his 10 and 5 rights.
The bullpen is where the Phillies looked as though they may have been able to make something happen until last week. Antonio Bastardo‘s meltdowns last week tarnished any trade potential on his profile at the worst possible time. I had a feeling this wold happen with Bastardo, because he has been up and down through his entire career. The Phillies should have sold him away while his stock was at its highest, if there was a team willing to move so quickly. Jonathan Papelbon also had a couple of sour outings at the worst possible time last week as well, but I think his contract ($13 million in 2015 with vesting option for 2016) and personality is much more of a concern for potential suitors. Stark also made note of the lack of teams in need of a closer.
The one Phillies player who appears to be on his way out of town is Marlon Byrd, but what kind of return would the Phillies get on an aging player signed through 2015? I cannot imagine the return would be much, but the Phillies need to make the move to get whatever they can. Another player I would be interested to see if anyone inquires about is Grady Sizemore.
Sizemore is signed to just a one-year contract and just $750,000. He is a veteran bat at a cheap price, and he has been hitting .319 since returning to the major leagues after signing with Philadelphia. It has only been 12 games since moving up from Lehigh Valley, and his 52 games with Boston earlier this season are not to be totally forgotten by any potential suitors, but in 50 plate appearances in a Phillies uniform Sizemore has 15 hits, three walks and eight strikeouts. Sure, he may not be a huge addition to any team, but I wonder if he has restored enough of his image to be considered for a veteran bat off the bench for a playoff contender. It may be a reach, but it may also be one worth considering if the Phillies receive a call. I would move him in an instant if that is the case.
I have said before I am fine with the Phillies moving any player on this roster at this point. The Phillies continue to be trending down since winning the 2008 World Series and something needs to be done to reverse the fortunes of the franchise. Rollins, Utley, Howard and Hamels will be Phillies for life in my book, regardless of where they finish their careers. The memories will always be cherished, but the point is finding ways to create new memories for years to come.