There’s no rule that says a team must turn into either a buyer or a seller at the trade deadline.
However, if a payroll that is over $170 million belongs to a team struggling to make the playoffs, shedding some cash couldn’t hurt, right?
But there’s a difference between trading a starting pitcher who is about to enter his prime and who is the franchise’s all-time leader in postseason wins, and trading a 41-year-old fan favorite who is currently only able to pinch hit.
Trading the first player in that scenario essentially means that any success achieved this season is great, but you’re really planning for the future.
Trading the latter player means that, although it’s difficult, trading certain players can result in acquisitions that benefit the team this season.
Here are five ways the Phillies can sell at the deadline without giving up on this season.
Few Phillies fans would want to see Thome traded.
Unfortunately, the Phillies may not be able to afford carrying a player on their roster for only pinch-hit appearances.
Fortunately, Thome still provides tons of value to an American League team as a DH.
While Thome’s walk-off home run during the Phils’ last series against the Tampa Bay Rays gave fans something to cheer about in an otherwise forgettable first half to the season, he could have a greater value on the trade market.
During interleague play, Thome hit at least one home run against all four American League teams that he faced.
In 13 at-bats against the Baltimore Orioles, Thome batted .462 with one home run, two doubles and four RBI.
In 11 at-bats against the Minnesota Twins, Thome batted .455 with two home runs and nine RBI.
Trading Thome would be difficult not because there would be a lack of interested teams, but because of the type of person he is both on and off the field.
The Phillies could use that type of presence in the clubhouse for the remainder of the season, especially if they begin making up ground in the National League East.
But he is still a player with trade value whose exit would not mean the end of the 2012 season for the Phils.
Brown has not appeared in the major leagues this season, and he has missed nearly two weeks after suffering a knee injury earlier this month.
However, if he returns to the form that he displayed prior to his injury at Triple-A, Brown could present the Phillies with an interesting situation.
In the 10 games prior to his injury, Brown was batting .297 with three home runs and 11 hits.
If healthy, Brown could have value for the Phils in multiple ways.
For one, the Phillies can continue playing him in center field, where he was receiving some playing time prior to his injury, and keep him as a possible replacement for Shane Victorino.
They could also wait to see if John Mayberry Jr., and his .234 batting average improve, and call up Brown to see time in left field later this season.
Or, they could allow him to return to Triple-A and heat up before trading him.
The major leagues have not been kind to Brown so far in his career. Although he was drafted in 2006, Brown has played in less than 100 games at the major league level.
But that won’t scare off a team who still feels that Brown can meet the lofty expectations he obtained as a prospect.
If Brown returns healthy and continues to improve at Triple-A, a trade package built around him would not mean the end of the Phillies’ season.
Wigginton has filled in at first base this season in the absence of Ryan Howard, and is tied for third on the team with eight home runs.
However, his real value to the Phils will come once Howard returns.
Once Howard has recovered from his injury, Wigginton will add depth to the Phillies’ bench.
Or his experience at three different infield positions could result in the Phillies trading him in order to improve another area of the team, such as the bullpen.
Wigginton has started 34 games for the Phils at first base this season, and 17 games at third base.
His defense at third base has, well, left much to be desired.
However, although he’s made five errors at third base this season, Wigginton made just four errors in 62 starts at the position last season.
Wigginton has started over 100 games at second base, over 200 games at first base and over 600 games at third base in his career.
With Howard returning from injury and Placido Polanco having dealt with his share of injuries, Wigginton and his .251 batting average and 33 RBI could give the Phillies a solid, experienced option off the bench.
But if another team has a player who gets injured and depth becomes an issue, Wigginton could also have value on the trade market.
With a $500,000 buyout for next season, Wigginton’s current contract wouldn’t require a long-term commitment from another team.
Wigginton’s experience could provide the Phillies’ bench with a solid addition. But he could also be a trade candidate who, if dealt, would not mean the end of the Phils’ season.
Pierre was signed just before the start of spring training and currently has a batting average that is his highest since the 2004 season.
A top of the lineup hitter batting .317 and playing on an $800,000 contract? Pierre’s trade value could be intriguing to the Phils.
In 64 games this season, Pierre is batting .317 with 66 hits and 16 stolen bases. He also scored his 1,000th career run earlier this season.
The left-handed batter has struggled mightily in 38 at-bats against left-handed pitching this season, but he has managed a .353 average against right-handers.
Pierre’s trade value may be difficult to gauge since he has not started regularly this season.
However, a player with Pierre’s experience and the ability to either come off the bench or bat at the top of a team’s lineup could make him an appealing option.
The Phillies could call up Brown from Triple-A to share time in left field with Mayberry, and are still hoping to get Laynce Nix back from a calf injury.
If a team offered a major league level right-handed reliever in exchange for Pierre, the Phillies could gain a valuable addition for the rest of the season.
Which means that a trade involving Pierre could benefit the team, rather than end their season.
Trading Victorino would not mean the end of the Phillies’ season, but the right deal would have to come along to make it worth it for the team both currently and in the future.
Victorino has two things that are currently working against his trade value.
For one, his .251 batting average is well below his career average. His average had recently even dipped to .244.
Additionally, Victorino is set to become a free agent after this season, meaning any team that acquires him may witness him sign elsewhere as a free agent.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be teams interested in acquiring him for a postseason run.
However, in order to trade Victorino without putting this season in the rear-view mirror, the Phillies would have to receive a current major league contributor, such as a relief pitcher, as well as one or two prospects.
Dealing Victorino could save the Phillies money in the offseason and add a prospect or two to the team’s minor league system.
The Phillies could call up Brown to split time with Mayberry in center field while Pierre mans left field.
If the right package were offered in exchange for Victorino, an outfield consisting of Pierre, Mayberry/Brown and Hunter Pence could be a solid grouping for the rest of the season.
Trading Victorino may initially seem like the Phillies are looking ahead, but the right deal could add to both the team’s current roster and minor league system.
Although it would be difficult to find a team that offers the right deal, trading Victorino would still not mean the end of the Phillies’ season.