Sell, Sell, Sell at the Deadline
This is where the burden shifts from the players to the front office this season. General manager Matt Klentak made several acquisitions this offseason which had multi-faceted goals. On one hand, he wanted to improve the team in the short-term. At the same time, he wanted to potentially better the team in the future as well.
Klentak traded for veteran pitchers Clay Buchholz and Pat Neshek along with left fielder/infielder Howie Kendrick. In addition, he signed reliever Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Michael Saunders, and offered a qualifying offer to Jeremy Hellickson, which he accepted.
Now Klentak has several potential trade chips on the roster, and he acknowledged that during the offseason: [quote via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly]
"“But it certainly isn’t lost on us that if the standings are looking the other way at the end of July, we have a lot of meaningful players in the last years of their contracts — not just pitchers, but a number of players that could be trade chips.”"
Last year Klentak had the same goal in mind, but the only player he was able to trade was Carlos Ruiz, and that came after the non-waiver deadline. He nearly traded Hellickson, but the deal never came to be.
What made the inability to trade Hellickson sting less was the fact that the Phils could offer him a qualifying offer and receive a first-round pick if here were to sign somewhere else. That isn’t the case this year thanks to the new collective-bargaining agreement which prevents players from receiving a qualifying offer two years in a row. If the team doesn’t trade Hellickson at the deadline this year, he will walk next offseason and the team will get nothing in return.
Philly’s other impending free agents likely aren’t worth a qualifying offer unless they have a ridiculously strong season, so they won’t get any draft-pick compensation from them either. That means if the Phillies want any return for these players, they will have to deal them at the deadline.
Obviously the players have to be performing well enough to warrant being traded, but if they are, a trade would free up a spot on the 25-man roster for one of the plethora of prospects expected to be at Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make the trip east to Philadelphia.