The month of July is significant around Major League Baseball for a couple of reasons: the All-Star Game and the July 31 trade deadline. As has become the norm, the Phillies will have a hand in both this season.
But it'll be different than the last couple of seasons.
After Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz, and Jonathan Papelbon help the National League in attempt to secure home-field advantage in the World Series, they'll return to the city of Philadelphia, a city that will undoubtedly be up to its eyeballs in baseball trade rumors.
You can follow all of the rumors and transactions here, but to sum things up in a quick sentence: leading up to July 31, the Phillies will trade off anyone and everyone that they can get value on for the future. That includes, but doesn't end with, Hamels and Shane Victorino.
The following slideshow is aimed towards giving you an idea of the types of conversations the Phillies will be having with other teams throughout the month of July. We know that the Phillies will be targeting third basemen and outfielders in any trade, so most of the suggested deals that follow those broad guidelines.
Mike Olt, 3B
The Phillies and Texas Rangers are are a match made in trade heaven.
Of course, they are two teams going in completely different directions as well. The Phillies have spent the first half of the season looking up at the rest of the NL East from the cellar while the Rangers have spent the first half fending off the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
But they have mutual needs. The Phillies desperately need to re-tool for next season. The Rangers need another arm to save their injured rotation and beat back the surging Angels.
The Rangers would love to get their hands on Cole Hamels and the Phillies would almost certainly pull the trigger on any package built around Rangers' third base prospect Mike Olt. Assuming it would take, at the very least, two top prospects to get a deal done, expect Jurickson Profar to be off-limits and the Phillies to ask about left-handed pitcher Martin Perez and/or outfielder Leonys Martin.
Jacob Turner, SP
The Detroit Tigers could use some pitching help as well, and they'll be in the market for a top-tier starting pitcher in order to protect their lucrative off-season investment, Prince Fielder.
Having been linked to several top-tier starting pitchers over the last several months by various sources (e.g. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports), you can expect the Tigers to inquire about Cole Hamels. Though he won't come cheap, Hamels would certainly be more affordable, in terms of prospects, than pitchers with more team control, like the Chicago Cubs' ace, Matt Garza.
The biggest hurdle will be whether the Tigers are willing to part with Nick Castellanos or Jacob Turner. The Phillies will want one of the two as the centerpiece to any deal and would certainly covet the third baseman Castellanos, even if he's not MLB-ready.
Brett Lawrie, 3B
If there's one team that the Phillies hope can stay on the right side of the infamous "bubble," it's the Toronto Blue Jays. They're hanging around in a very tough AL East and need a top-tier starting pitcher to battle not only the likes of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays, but the surprising Baltimore Orioles as well.
The Blue Jays have shown interest in Cole Hamels in the past and the Phillies would certainly be interested in dealing with the prospect-laden Jays club if they are willing to rekindle trade talks.
While the Jays almost certainly won't part with Brett Lawrie, even in a one-for-one deal, there are plenty of prospects in the Jays system worth building a deal around, including a former Phillie that the Phillies were linked to over the offseason: catching prospect Travis D'arnaud.
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
If there's a dark horse in the Cole Hamels sweepstakes, it has to be the Cleveland Indians, and while they may be the darkest of dark horses, they certainly have the resources to swing a deal for the left-handed ace.
The Indians have been a pleasant surprise this season after pundits almost unanimously agreed that the Detroit Tigers were the favorite to win the AL Central. Instead, it's been the Indians and Chicago White Sox battling for first place, and the Tribe could use a legitimate ace to push them over the top.
Given the play of Jack Hannahan, it would be interesting to see if the Phillies could convince the Indians to part with top third base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. They'd also ask about Jason Kipnis and any of the Tribe's tools-laden outfielders.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
You wouldn't think that a team with the Boston Red Sox's payroll would be interested in adding a player like Cole Hamels, who is set to make roughly $7.5 million through the second half of the season. But make no mistake about it—the Red Sox think they can win the AL East.
And why not? They have one of the most potent offenses in baseball, headlined by the likes of David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez. Over the next couple of weeks guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, and Dustin Pedroia will all return from injury.
With a little pitching, they could make a legitimate run at the World Series. That's why they'll be interested in Hamels, but given their situation right now, I'd consider the Sox a long shot.
That wouldn't have been the case had they held on to Kevin Youkilis. It would have made trading Will Middlebrooks, a third base prospect who undoubtedly fits into the Phillies' "re-tooling" strategy, more plausible.
Instead, the Sox would have to build a deal on players like Gavin Cecchini or Xander Bogaerts—players much further away from the MLB that the Phillies aren't overly interested in.
Gary Brown, OF
The Phillies are 13 games out of first place with 23 full days remaining before the July 31 trade deadline. Factor in the All-Star break, the play of the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and the New York Mets, and it is almost hard to imagine the Phillies not selling this season.
One person that appears to be a goner in either situation is center fielder Shane Victorino, who is heading into the final three months of his contract. Plenty of teams will show interest in the five-tool outfielder, including a surprising club: the San Francisco Giants.
Given their history, it's a surprising match, but a match nonetheless. The Giants' outfield situation outside of Melky Cabrera has been murky and they would love to use Victorino's defense behind their elite starters.
Of course, the Mets know what it will take to get a deal done. The Giants are in a very similar situation to the one they were in last season when they acquired Carlos Beltran from the Mets for top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler, and the Phillies will undoubtedly be looking for the same.
One name you can certainly look out for is Gary Wheeler, an outfield prospect.
Matt Dominguez, 3B (Traded to HOU)
When you look around the league to pick out potential fits for Shane Victorino, interesting clubs pop up, and I'd count the Miami Marlins among them.
There's no doubt that a player like Victorino would give the floundering Marlins a boost both offensively and defensively, but the real question is whether or not the Phillies would legitimately consider dealing the "Flyin' Hawaiian" within the division.
The Marlins also hurt their chances to acquire Victorino when they sent third baseman Matt Dominguez to the Houston Astros as part of the Carlos Lee deal, along with one of their top pitching prospects in Rob Rassmussen.
With that said, if the Marlins make a legitimate climb towards the top—and they do have the talent on their roster to do so—I imagine the Phillies would seriously consider a one-for-one swap of Victorino and top Marlins' prospect Christian Yelich.
Eury Perez, OF
If the Phillies are serious about dealing within the division, they'll call the Washington Nationals.
There's no question that the Nationals have been craving a legitimate center fielder for a long time. Ken Rosenthal reports that the Nationals considered sending their closer, Drew Storen, to the Minnesota Twins in attempt to land Denard Span—an outfielder who is at least a whole tier below Shane Victorino.
But intra-divisional trades are so difficult to pull off. It's the same reason that the Phillies wouldn't make a deal with the New York Mets for Carlos Beltran last season—neither side likes doing it.
From a Phillies' perspective, you're helping a rival to whom you're admitting defeat to help win a future World Series. There's also a chance that they'll sign a guy like Victorino, a player they'd like a lot, to a contract extension.
But it's even worse from the Nationals' perspective. There's a good chance that the guy you're trading to the Phillies will be helping them try and beat you for at least six seasons.
So who would the Nationals deal? Well, they wouldn't move Storen now, though the Phillies would certainly listen. Anthony Rendon would be interesting, but he's a few years away from the MLB (and the Nats' top prospect).
A more likely return would be one of or some combination of Eury Perez, Destin Hood, and Jeff Kobernus.
Cesar Puello, OF
It's just been that kind of season for the Phillies. Three of the teams that make the most sense for a guy like Shane Victorino just happen to play in their division, making a deal all the more unlikely.
With that being said, if the New York Mets are still hanging in there come the trade deadline and look to make a move, you can bet your bottom dollar they'll call the Phillies about Victorino.
The reason is simple: as one undisclosed Mets' player told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, "We just can't hit lefties."
Although Victorino is a switch-hitter, he is a much greater threat from the right-handed batter's box.
The Phillies will certainly be seeking a similar package to the one the Mets received from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran, so expect the Phillies to ask about guys like Cesar Puello, Wilmer Flores, Reese Havens, Juan Legares, and Matt Den Dekker.
You would think that the Cincinnati Reds wouldn't have much left to work with after the blockbuster that brought Mat Latos into town, but then again, you would be wrong too.
The Reds have one of the game's most underrated farm systems and could certainly swing a deal for a guy like Shane Victorino, who would certainly help them in the outfield.
The real question is whether the Phillies would find a deal to their liking. They'd certainly love to get their hands on speedster Billy Hamilton, a shortstop who could be moved to the outfield soon, but that's probably a pipe dream at this point.
They'd also ask about DiDi Gregorious, Ryan LaMarre, and Ryan Wright.
Starling Marte, OF
How about them Pittsburgh Pirates?
Coming into the season, the Phillies were supposed to be Pennsylvania's best baseball team, but the Pirates have been raising the Jolly Roger with much more frequency than the Phillies have been ringing the Liberty Bell.
The Bucs could really use some offensive help and a guy like Shane Victorino, who has World Series experience, could pay dividends not only on the field, but in a relatively young clubhouse as well.
The Phillies would undoubtedly start any conversation with Starling Marte, but it's hard to imagine the Pirates moving him without any guarantee that Victorino stays. Robbie Grossman is another guy they would ask about.
The Cleveland Indians could potentially be the team that wants Shane Victorino the most, but they don't have the same caliber of prospects as some of the other teams that could get involved in trade talks, and that could hurt them.
Of course, they could always put together a quantity-over-quality type deal to entice the Phillies, but they remain only a dark horse, no doubt.
The Indians could really use a right-handed bat in their lefty-heavy lineup and Victorino, who hits much better versus left-handed pitching, would certainly help them out.
If you had to pick one player who would entice the Phillies most, it's probably Levon Washington, but they could also be interested in guys like Zach McAllister and Tony Wolters.
Assuming the Phillies become sellers shortly after the All-Star break, they'll certainly try and trade off anything and everything for which they can get value. Expect right-handed starter Joe Blanton to be a topic of conversation.
Although he seems to shoot his value down even further after every starter, there is certainly value in the starter for a contending team.
Now that he's more than proven that he is actually healthy, expect Blanton to throw a lot of innings this season. There's value in that, believe it or not, and a team with a high-powered offense may want to add him to the back of their rotation.
Worst-case scenario: a team moves him to the bullpen, where he was actually very successful last season. More clubs need bullpen help than there are relievers actually available.
Juan Pierre turned out to be one of the Phillies' few pleasant surprises this season, but the tone has turned sour as the club falls further and further out of the postseason picture. Now, Pierre may be nothing more than trade bait.
Even in that case, don't expect much. The Phillies signed Pierre to a minor-league deal over the winter, showing you just what MLB clubs thought of his value then.
Of course, a renaissance season has likely turned a few teams into believers, but they're not going to pay much for a player of Pierre's skill set. The Phillies may not think so, but he's a part-time player.
The new free-agent compensation rules under the Collective Bargaining Agreement make players with team control much more valuable. The Phillies want to re-tool by trading guys like Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino, but they may receive the most value for Hunter Pence.
Pence has a final year of arbitration remaining before he becomes eligible for free agency following the 2013 season. In a weak trade market where the only real competition for a right-handed bat will be Carlos Quentin, teams would jump all over Pence.
If the Phillies could get a package similar to the one they sent to the Houston Astros in exchange for Pence (Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zied and Domingo Santana), would they pull the trigger?
I think they'd consider it for a long time.
The Phillies aren't cashing in on the next couple of seasons. Just this one. What that means for the here and now is that you shouldn't expect the club to trade anyone that can definitely be of help next season.
In spite of that, Cliff Lee's name has come up in trade speculation, so he is worth talking about.
The Phillies haven't soured on Lee by any means, but the thought process behind trading him is understandable. He's now a 33-year-old left-handed starting pitcher with a ton of money left on his contract.
If the Phillies could move that contract, they'd offer another gigantic deal to a different left-handed starter, Cole Hamels.
With that being said, any deal involving Lee should be considered highly unlikely. A team that is both willing to part with prospects and absorb a salary of that magnitude would be difficult to come across.
The days of Placido Polanco being an everyday player are over. It's just time to face the music. The 36-year-old native of the Dominican Republic has had a great career. Now it's time to start a new chapter.
A contending team would certainly like to add Polanco in a reserve role. He's a supreme defender at two positions, and though he isn't hitting well, he can still work the count. That could be an invaluable skill late in a ball game.
The Phillies wouldn't get much other than salary relief, but any little bit helps.
I'm trying to think of a scenario in which a team would like to take Kyle Kendrick off of the Phillies' hands. Still haven't come up with one.
But there's no doubt that the Phillies will be hawking Kendrick this winter. He's signed through next season at an affordable rate, especially for a small-to-mid-market club that will be looking for an average starting pitcher to round out their rotation.
The problem is that Kendrick doesn't have many selling points. The Phillies may have to eat the remainder of his contract to move him. I'm not sure they'll do that.
Any team looking for bench help in the second half of the season will call the Phillies about Ty Wigginton, who is owed about $1 million for the remainder of this season and has a club option for the 2013 season at $4 million.
The Phillies acquired Wigginton from the Colorado Rockies over the winter in hopes that he'd be able to provide some right-handed pop off of the bench, but he's been thrust into more of a regular role, and by proxy, overexposed.
He has, however, been very good versus left-handed pitching this year, posting an .810 OPS and slugging five of his nine home runs against them.
This is sheer speculation and the chances of any deal involving Vance Worley actually coming to fruition are somewhere between slim and none, but I'm going to make the case anyway.
If the Phillies were to go into a full-scale fire sale this summer, Worley is a guy that I'm sure several contenders would call about.
He's just a valuable asset. Young. Under team control. Pitching well. The bone chip in his elbow could be a concern, but he's pitching through it and has been pain-free in recent outings.
Looking for an interesting comparison? How about last winter's trade between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees involving Michael Pineda and Jesus Montero?
The Mariners traded a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher to the Yanks after he posted a record of 9-10 and an ERA of 3.74 ERA in 2011. He struck out 9.1 batters per nine innings and walked just 2.9 batters per nine innings.
Compare those numbers to Worley's 2011 season: he's 11-3 with an ERA of 3.01, 8.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
Now I'm not suggesting that the Phillies would be able to get a hitter of Montero's quality for Worley, who doesn't have the same upside as Pineda. But if the Phillies were approached with a similar deal for Worley, would they consider it?
This is a team in desperate need of an impact hitter and teams have shown a willingness to pay the price for controllable pitching with upside. I'd say Worley qualifies.
Jurickson Profar? Wil Myers? Travis D'arnaud? Nolan Arenado? Billy Hamilton? Brett Jackson?
It would be an interesting conversation, no doubt.
Let me preface the next five slides by saying this: The chances that the Phillies will become buyers before the July 31 trade deadline are kind of like the chances of being struck by lighting in a sun shower—incredibly low.
But just in case, I'm going to list five guys that they'd potentially have interest in should they consider becoming buyers, the first of whom is Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres.
The Phillies began showing some level of interest in the third baseman about two weeks ago, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN, but have fallen well out of contention since.
If they were to climb back into the race, he is a guy they'd call the Padres about, but the price is said to be high and the Phillies don't have much left to deal with.
While they're on the phone with the San Diego Padres, the Phillies should ask about a couple of other guys as well. Carlos Quentin would be a nice fit for the Phillies in left field if they can climb back into the race.
The right-handed slugger is enjoying one of the best offensive seasons of his career in 2012, despite starting it on the disabled list and playing his home games in the spacious PETCO Park.
He's posted an OPS of .930 and hit seven home runs.
The Phillies could use some bullpen help too. The San Diego Padres have some bullpen help to spare.
Among the relievers that could be available this summer is Friars' closer Houston Street, who is also enjoying one of the best seasons of his career—certainly, the greatest first half.
Street has appeared in 24 games this season, saving 13. He has posted an ERA of 1.17 and a WHIP of 0.625 and would serve as the right-handed setup man that he Phillies have desperately needed all season long.
Francisco Liriano has the potential to be an interesting name this summer as an alternative to starting pitchers like Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke.Of course, if the Phillies are still buyers, they'll be keeping Hamels and looking to add. Liriano could help.
While there has been some speculation that the Minnesota Twins will receive plenty of offers for Liriano, the type of package they'd need to pull the trigger is still up in the air.
A guy like Liriano would certainly bolster the back end of the Phillies' rotation, potentially replacing Joe Blanton.
It's hard to imagine Francisco Rodriguez wearing red pinstripes, but this is a team that is in desperate need of right-handed relief help, and "K-Rod" could certainly provide that.
Currently working as the setup man for the Milwaukee Brewers, Rodriguez's numbers aren't great and the Phillies would need the Brewers to eat a lot of his remaining salary, but he has been surprisingly tough on left-handed hitters, and truthfully, the Phillies need all of the bullpen help they can get.
It may have to come from the strangest of sources.