Phillies’ top trade deadline outfield option might have to wait until the offseason

The White Sox's trade deadline valuation of the top outfielder on the market could push a deal into the winter.
Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr.
Chicago White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the top teams in Major League Baseball, so it makes sense that they’d be connected to the top names that are thought to be available on the trade deadline market this season.

We already know that the front office has been kicking the tires around the league on outfield upgrades. We’ve heard this from multiple sources; at least one insider says they have confirmation from other MLB executives that the Phillies are shopping for outfielders.

It’s not really a surprise. The Phillies, the best team in the National League, have a 49-26 record and lead the NL East by 6.0 games — all accomplished with an outfield that has stumbled along since the beginning of the season.

Heading into Friday's action, the Phillies have received a .226 batting average and a .638 OPS from their outfielders. Those are both among the worst in the majors. Imagine how much better the team's .256 average and .746 OPS — both rank in the top five — would look with a little bit of help from the rotating cast who have donned outfield gloves this season.

Phillies’ top trade deadline outfield option might have to wait until the offseason

One of the names linked with the Phillies from the early going in the trade deadline watch was Luis Robert Jr. of the Chicago White Sox. However, for Phillies fans itching for president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal for the outfielder, you may want to start directing your trade gaze elsewhere.

The Phillies might not even have a chance to trade for Robert in season, especially if they’re unwilling to give up the cream of the crop of the farm system. That would be the Andrew Painters, Aidan Millers and Justin Crawfords of the world.

According to The Athletic’s most recent MLB trade deadline watch news dump, there are expectations that White Sox general manager Chris Getz will overvalue Robert in trade deadline negotiations (subscription required) while not feeling any need to swing a deal that doesn’t meet his team’s high demands.

“The general feeling within the industry is that the White Sox are in no rush to deal him, either. They can wait until the offseason when teams are in more flexible positions with their rosters.”

Those factors, combined with his injury history and relatively high salary ($12.5 million this year and $15 million in 2025), are causing some rival executives to be wary of offering their best prospects, according to The Athletic's Will Sammon, Patrick Mooney and Ken Rosenthal.

If he stays healthy, he might be worth the money over the next two seasons, even before two years of club options are on the table beginning in 2026. It's arguable that he'd likely also be worth the top-drawer prospects it would take for a team to land him at the deadline — if that team were willing to mortgage some of the future to win it all now.

Since coming off the injured list in early June, the 26-year-old is hitting just .189 but is slugging .491 with five home runs in 15 games (53 at-bats). He's a career .275 hitter with an .824 OPS. He put up 38 homers and 20 stolen bases in his lone healthy season in 2023, but there are no guarantees with Robert, as demonstrated by his track record of finding his way to the injured list.

Even if the Phillies see Robert as their top trade deadline target, it's likely that they won't want to pay the price that the Sox will be asking. Perhaps, if he doesn't get moved, the Phils can revisit a potential deal in the offseason.