The debate has continued for much of this season as to whether the Philadelphia Phillies would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
Prior to Cole Hamels signing a six-year contract extension, the chances of the Phils selling seemingly increased each day that passed without a deal. However, with Hamels now signed long-term and the Phillies currently on a four-game win streak, is there any chance that the team could actually buy at the deadline?
What if there was a deal that involved the team both buying and selling?
The 26-year-old right-hander is a former starter who has pitched out of the bullpen this season, going 1-0 with 52 strikeouts and 19 walks in 46.2 innings. Davis has also posted a 2.70 ERA and has held opponents to a .209 batting average, which includes a .177 average for left-handers.
But here’s where things get tricky.
According to Stark’s article, the Rays may also be willing to trade starter James Shields, and multiple teams have shown interest.
If Shields is dealt, the Rays may favor keeping Davis and plugging him back into the starting rotation. Davis’ role with the Rays could be similar to the one held by Kyle Kendrick with the Phillies.
There could be other obstacles in dealing for Davis, as well.
Davis is making $1.5 million this season, which means acquiring him might keep the Phillies' payroll above the $178 million luxury tax threshold. Furthermore, Davis is set to make $2.8 million in 2013 and $4.8 million in 2014. His contract then includes a $2.5 million buyout for each season from 2015-2017.
If the Phillies are willing to exceed the luxury tax threshold next season, they could desire to get under it this season so as to avoid paying a 20 percent tax this year and 30 percent tax next year.
Considering all of this, would a deal involving Shane Victorino even be enough to acquire Davis?
For one, would the Rays even be willing to make this deal straight up and have two outfielders in Victorino and B.J. Upton with expiring contracts?
Secondly, would the Phillies be willing to exceed the luxury tax threshold this season in order to obtain bullpen help? Do they have other possible moves that would get them under the threshold?
If the Rays do decide to trade Davis and keep Shields, would they be interested in acquiring another pitcher such as Joe Blanton? Despite having a 4.70 ERA, Blanton has struck out 108 batters this season while walking 17 in 126.1 innings. He’s also pitched two complete games.
But what could make Blanton appealing to the Rays is the fact that he too is a free agent after this season, which means the team would only have to pay what’s left of his salary this season.
A recent article by Matt Gelb on philly.com suggested that trading two of three players of Victorino, Blanton and Placido Polanco, who is no longer a trade candidate after being placed on the disabled list, could save the Phillies approximately $6 million.
Acquiring potentially $6 million in salary could be worth it for a team who is in the thick of things in the American League wild card standings, especially since the contracts will come off the books at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, acquiring what’s left of Davis’ contract for this season, as well as dealing Victorino and at least one other player at some point, could improve the Phillies' bullpen and help the team avoid the luxury tax this season.
A deal between the Rays and Phillies could be an interesting trade deadline move that improves both teams' current rosters rather than seeing one team give up a big name player in exchange for prospects that are a few years away from being major-league ready.
However, if the right pieces fall into place, such a deal at least has a chance of taking place.