Phillies targeting top NL East closer ahead of trade deadline

The Phillies might not have to look far outside the division for a bullpen trade deadline addition.
Miami Marlins closer Tanner Scott
Miami Marlins closer Tanner Scott / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

As we enter the middle of June, the first wave of MLB trade deadline rumors has started to make its way across the baseball landscape. Beat reporters, insiders and media mouthpieces have turned their attention to the buyers and sellers likely to generate headlines in July.

The Philadelphia Phillies are no stranger to the daily rumors and rampant speculation as this year's trade market begins to evolve. And while Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was recently adamant in a candid Q-and-A with Matt Gelb from The Athletic that nothing was imminent on the Phillies trade front (subscription required), the Phillies have already been linked to big names such as Chicago White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. and Oakland Athletics closer Mason Miller.

While it's certainly tough to separate legitimate interest from industry innuendo this time of year, the Phillies have developed some needs. They have enough prospect capital to get a deal done if they can acquire the right player at the right price as they turn their attention towards seizing an NL pennant and beyond. If Dombrowski has taught us anything during his four years with the organization, he's not the type of executive willing to sit back and watch rival teams get better without swinging a deadline deal himself.

Phillies targeting top NL East closer ahead of trade deadline

According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the Phillies are reportedly one of a handful of teams discussing a possible trade with the Miami Marlins for left-handed closer Tanner Scott. The Phillies' competition for Scott's services happens to be three of the other top teams in MLB.

"Word is four of the World Series favorites — Yankees, Orioles, Phillies and Dodgers — have interest in the lefty who hadn’t allowed a run in 18 straight outings before giving up J.D. Martinez’s two-run walk-off homer Thursday night at Citi Field and was limiting opposing hitters to a .140 batting average," wrote Heyman.

While Heyman predicts that Scott will ultimately land with the Yankees when the dust settles, the Phillies and Marlins have been no stranger to making inter-division trades in recent years. The Phillies notably acquired J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins before the 2019 season.

The Phillies are trying something new this season when it comes to assigning closing opportunities to lock down tight games, opting to use a closer-by-committee that has seen José Alvarado split the majority of ninth-inning situations with Jeff Hoffman. Alvarado has been relatively successful in the role, saving 12 games in 14 chances, while Hoffman has five saves but has also blown three. Could returning Alvarado and Hoffman back to the seventh and eighth innings be something the Phillies could explore sometime soon?

The Marlins found themselves completely buried in the division standings by the end of April, and that helped accelerate the trade of two-time batting champion Luis Arráez to the San Diego Padres in early May when it became apparent that injuries to their starting rotation made competing in 2024 a hopeless endeavour. The Marlins are expected to be major sellers at the deadline next month.

Scott will be moved, but where? The 29-year-old has put together a strong showing in 2024 with a 5-5 record, 1.93 ERA, 31 strikeouts in 28 innings and is currently 8-for-10 in save opportunities. Scott is a free agent at the end of the season, so any team looking to acquire him is prepared for his eventual exit next offseason. That doesn't mean the Marlins won't ask for a decent prospect in return in a trade for Scott, and the Phillies have enough surplus prospects to make a potential deal a reality.

With plenty more competition for Scott likely to develop as buyers and sellers at the deadline make themselves known early next month, it will be interesting to see if the Phillies jump into the market for another late-inning arm or stay the course with Alvarado and Hoffman in the ninth for the remainder of the season.