The MLB trade deadline is just five days away and transactions involving big name players have already taken place.
For the first time, however, not all trades at this year’s deadline have to exclusively involve players.
MLB recently held its first Competitive Balance Lottery, in which six additional draft picks were awarded following the first and second rounds of the 2013 First-Year Player draft.
The Competitive Balance Lottery, which was agreed upon as a part of the 2012-2016 Basic Agreement between MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association, gives Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets the opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery.
One of those clubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates, was recently awarded the second pick in Round A, meaning they now have the second pick following the conclusion of the first round of next year’s draft.
What really makes things interesting is the opportunity for the teams that received an additional pick through the lottery to trade their selection either this season or next season. Unlike the draft picks in the First-Year Player draft, which cannot be traded, the recently awarded lottery selections can be traded at this year’s deadline or before next year’s draft.
But what would it cost to acquire such a pick?
Would a 29-year-old right fielder that is signed through next season be an option? Furthermore, would the Phillies be interested in trading their only solidified starting outfielder for next season in order to acquire an additional draft pick?
With Cole Hamels now signed to a new long-term extension, the Phillies may be interested in trading away salary so as to avoid the luxury tax threshold this season. If their payroll goes over $178 million next season, they will have to pay a 17.5 percent tax.
However, if their payroll is under the new tax threshold of $189 million in 2014, they would only have to pay the tax one time in the next three years if they avoid it this season.
This brings up the possibility of trading outfielder Hunter Pence. Pence is set to receive a salary increase next season through arbitration. At 29 years old and signed through next season, Pence has a great deal of value to the Phillies for the rest of this season and next.
However, these characteristics, combined with a potential desire to shed payroll this season, could also be enough reasons to trade Pence at the deadline.
According to a tweet by Joel Sherman, scouts believe Pence is just one Phillie that could be available following Hamels’ signing.
If the Pirates are in the market for outfield help, the Phillies have two names who could contribute to a contending team this season. Shane Victorino has been posting numbers below his career averages, but could still make an impact on a team attempting to make the postseason.
Then there’s Pence. Pence could potentially be the piece that seals a NL Central crown for the Pirates. And, fortunately for the Pirates, they have a trade chip that over half the league doesn’t have.
By receiving the second pick in Round A from the competitive balance lottery, the Pirates now have three picks early on in next year’s draft, according to Charlie Wilmoth on bucsdugout.com.
The Pirates have also been in talks with the Phillies to acquire Victorino, but Biertempfel tweets that the Phillies asked for reliever Brad Lincoln in return.
Lincoln is a 27-year-old right-handed reliever who has gone 4-2 with 59 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 57.2 innings this season. He also has a 2.81 ERA, and has held opponents to a .231 batting average.
The Pirates may be unwilling to trade Lincoln for Victorino, and the Phillies would likely ask for more than one relief pitcher in a deal for Pence.
That brings up the question, should the Phillies offer Pence for a package including Lincoln, the competitive balance lottery pick and an additional prospect? Or, would the Pirates be willing to offer the draft pick and recently called-up prospect Starling Marte for Pence?
Jayson Stark on ESPN.com recently wrote that a young reliever and young outfielder were among the targets for the Phillies in a deal for Victorino. If the Phils can't find that type of return with one outfielder, could they find it with their other trade option?
It’s an interesting scenario for both teams. The Phillies have a chance to avoid paying the luxury tax this season while also acquiring an additional draft pick to help replenish their farm system, as well as either a right-handed reliever or young outfielder going forward.
The Pirates, meanwhile, have already added to their rotation by acquiring Wandy Rodriguez. Now, with the ability to trade a draft pick for the first time, they may have a great opportunity to add a bat to their lineup, as well.
Both sides just might have the pieces that the other is interested in acquiring.
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