Wednesday is the MLB Trade Deadline so, until then, you can rest assured that most of what you’re going to read over the next 48 hours is going to have to do with what Ruben Amaro can/should do at the deadline.
Thankfully, the question of whether the Phillies are going to be “buyers” or “sellers” has been answered. The Phils are officially “sellers.” The only question is, how severe the sale will be.
Of course, much of that will be up to the teams who want to purchase what Amaro has to sell. Frankly, everyone could go if teams are desperate enough to offer the moon. And the Phillies have more appealing trade chips than any other team in baseball, although a few of those chips have grown quite stale over the last two months.
What seems clear is that Amaro is planning on re-tooling the Phillies to try and make them competitive again in 2014. Any deals done this week will be with that in mind.
Ruben Amaro is not going to clear the decks unless he has a compelling reason to do so. The team has too much money tied up in long-term contracts and, in order to justify a big payroll and keep TV ratings up for a new cable deal, the team has to try and form some semblance of a “winner” in 2014, 2015 and beyond.
This team isn’t going to go all Miami Marlins/Houston Astros on us. It’s just not in their DNA.
With that in mind, here are my predictions on who will be here after the July 31 deadline, and who will be gone.
Earlier on Monday, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal asked the question, “Will the Phillies be able to trade Lee?” Well, of course they’d be able to trade him if they were willing to eat a lot of salary and/or accept less glitzy prospects in return.
The Phils aren’t going to move Lee without getting a king’s ransom in return, while at the same time clearing most of his salary off the books. I can see the Phils being willing to eat $5 million a year from his contract if they’re able to get a team’s #1 or #2 prospect back, but I also don’t see any team willing to meet what absolutely should be a ridiculous asking price from Amaro.
The Phils don’t NEED to trade Lee. They have plenty of money to keep him around. He’s still pitching well enough to justify his contract and shows no signs of slowing down. They aren’t going to pull the trigger unless some team gives them everything they want. But if the Orioles are going to offer Dylan Bundy, or if the Red Sox are going to offer Xander Bogaerts, AND they’re going to pick up a decent portion of his contract, I can’t see why Amaro would say no.
There are some who think Lee is going to be moved. I don’t see it happening.
And while this is great news in my heart, my head knows that the right thing to do would be to trade him.
Chase Utley has a ton of value. He’d be a perfect fit for the Oakland A’s. He’ll be 35 next year, a free agent, and although has a degenerative knee condition that could flare up and sideline him for half a year again at a moment’s notice, has played very well this year with no pain in those knees.
Chase Utley also has a ton of value to the Phillies. He’s still one of the best second basemen in the game. His offensive levels are better than anyone else who would be available in the offseason next year (with the exception of Robinson Cano, who will be re-signed by New York), and losing him would be a public relations hit the team doesn’t really want to take, so close to a new TV contract.
But there are risks to keeping Utley. Those knees. Those scary, scary knees.
Honestly, the smart baseball move is to trade him, however, I think the Phils re-sign Utley to a three-year extension with a vesting fourth year, somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 million guaranteed, a contract that would make me very, very uncomfortable.
The Tigers acquired Astros relief pitcher Jose Veras on Monday, eliminating what would have been the most likely suitor for Papelbon.
Acquisition of Veras by #Tigers likely ends any chance of DET acquiring Papelbon or Nathan. Smyly, Veras, Benoit in late innings.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 29, 2013
There aren’t many teams that would take a chance on a relief pitcher that has seen his average fastball velocity decline from 94.8 mph in 2011 to 92.2 mph this year. And while Papelbon’s overall numbers still look good (2.21 ERA and 20 saves), his K% is down from 34.1% in 2011 to 22.6% this year.
Those are some serious red flags.
And as Papelbon angles to get out of town now that things have hit the skids a bit, it doesn’t seem likely any team would want a 32-year-old closer with a declining fastball and a loud mouth who is still owed $6.5 million for the remainder of this year, $13 million in 2014, $13 million in 2015 and the possibility of a $13 million vesting option for 2016.
I know Amaro has said he doesn’t want to trade Papelbon because the Phils don’t have another “closer” in-house, but I think he’d LOVE to move Paps and get out from under that huge contract.
I just don’t think he’ll be able to do it.
Now we’re finally talking about some guys who might actually go somewhere. Of all the players on the team, Young is the most likely to go. The Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Reds are all said to have interest in the Phils’ third baseman, and the Phils have no shortage of players who could take over for him should he be traded. The Phillies could plug Kevin Frandsen at third and be just fine, and might even put Cody Asche in there now, given his .293/.351/.471 line in AAA this year, with 13 HRs and 24 RBIs in 441 PAs.
It would probably take a second-tier prospect to get Young. Some team is going to have to cough up someone among their top 10, but we’re not talking about an All-Star rather, likely a prospect that could be used as bullpen help.
Keep in mind, though, that Young has a full no-trade clause and would have to approve any trade. My guess is he’ll agree if it’s to a true playoff contender.
Ruben Amaro would literally have to drug someone.
Chooch’s horrific 2013 season (.253/.301/.280 in 165 PAs) and age (he’s 34) makes him nothing more than a throw-in in any potential deal that comes down the pike. Maybe including Ruiz in a Michael Young deal to the Yankees nets the Phils a better bullpen prospect. The Phillies could bring him back as a free agent after the season, if only because Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle won’t be ready to compete for the starting job next year. And while Erik Kratz is a nice back-up, he’s no starter.
At the end of the day, I think Ruiz gets moved, and then comes back in the off-season.
Jimmy Rollins is a 10-and-5 guy, meaning he can veto any trade that may come down the pike. And he said on Sunday that he’s not going anywhere.
“There are still a couple things I would like to be number one on the lists of in this organization,” Rollins said, “so until those things are done, I’m not going anywhere.” – quote per The Daily News’ David Murphy
Rollins has earned the right to choose to stay for whatever reasons he sees fit. It’s nice that there’s an athlete who wants to finish his career in the place he started it, and isn’t trying to talk his way out of Philadelphia.
So, cross him off your list.
Kendrick is an intriguing possibility. Basically, when considering trading Kyle a person must ask themselves, do I really buy the fact this guy has turned himself into a legitimate #3 starter in the Majors?
His 3.96 ERA this year is perfectly respectable and his K%, while not the 17.2% it was last year, is 14.1%, which is heftier than his career average of 12.3%. He makes $4.5 million this year and is due for an arbitration raise in the range of about $8 million next year, if no one signs him to a contract extension. He cannot become a free agent until after 2015.
If Kendrick truly is a #3 or #4 starter, $8 million is a perfectly reasonable price for a pitcher like that. A team would have him under control for next year.
If you don’t believe he’s a true #3 or #4 starter, $8 million for a swing-man/#5 starter might be a hefty price to pay. The team would be wise to see what they can get for a young arm under team control through next year.
I think the Phils view Kendrick as legitimate and want to keep him to help them compete in 2014 along with Hamels, Lee, Gonzalez and Pettibone.
So, at the end of the day, I see two Phillies getting traded, Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz.
That’s not much of a rebuilding effort.