MLB Trade Scenarios: Shock Roster Moves That Could Change Phillies' Makeup
As the Philadelphia Phillies attempt to continue their climb in the National League East, they are doing so with a number of players who are using the remaining games to lock down a spot on next season’s roster.
But can the Phils really improve the team for next season using a bunch of players who either struggled this season or spent most of the year in Triple-A?
Some may contribute, but the team will still have to use this offseason to address holes throughout the roster in order to bounce back as quickly as possible from this season’s disappointment.
And if the Phillies really want to spice things up, they could dangle some of their current top players or prospects in deals.
Although these deals would lead to a lot of gasps, they would also provide value to the Phils starting next season and going forward.
Here are five shock roster moves that would certainly change the Phillies’ makeup.
Trade Cliff Lee to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Justin Upton
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Lee has gone from a third place finish in last year’s NL Cy Young voting, to being arguably the Phillies’ best trade chip this offseason.
Trading him would deal the Phils’ starting rotation a significant blow next season, but with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels already in the fold, the team may be able to deal one of their aces.
Rosenthal points out in the article that the Diamondbacks are a team that Lee can block a trade to, and that, for a player such as Upton, the Phils would have to include a good amount of cash since Lee is owed nearly $50 million more through 2015 than Upton.
However, the Phillies likely will be in the market for two outfielders this offseason, and players such as Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton will be the top available free agents.
Upton is having a down season, batting .276 with nine home runs and 47 RBI. However, his strikeout total is lower than it has been in past seasons.
Upton is still just one season removed from batting .289 with 31 home runs and a fourth place finish in NL MVP voting.
The Phillies are set to potentially pay Lee nearly $102.5 million from 2013-2016. Lee will be 38 years old and making $27.5 million if his 2016 option becomes guaranteed.
Meanwhile, Upton is set to make approximately $9.96, $14.5 and $14.71 million during the next three seasons. Upton will turn 28 years old during the final year of his current contract.
Yes, any deal involving Lee will be complicated due to his limited no-trade clause and the amount of salary still owed to him. But a soon-to-be 25-year-old that is making nearly $11 million less per season could be an intriguing option.
At the least, it would be a shock move that sends one All-Star in exchange for another.
Trade Jimmy Rollins
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Rollins is the longest current tenured Phillie, but also currently has the lowest batting average of his career.
What makes his low average even more frustrating is that he is the Phils’ leadoff hitter and has struggled batting from a different spot in the lineup this season.
With Rollins in the leadoff spot, Juan Pierre must bat second. With Rollins leading off, where would a potential free agent acquisition such as Bourn bat?
Rollins is set to make $11 million in each of the next three seasons if his 2015 option vests.
At least two teams had interest in Rollins at the non-waiver trade deadline, as Jon Heyman on CBSSports.com wrote that the Los Angeles Dodgers had interest, and Danny Knobler also wrote on CBSSports.com that the Oakland Athletics had a discussion, as well.
However, as Knobler mentions in his article, Rollins has 10-5 rights after spending at least 10 years in the major leagues and at least the last five with the Phillies. He must approve any deal.
Would Rollins accept a trade that allows him to play in California?
Rollins has been with the Phillies since long before their most recent string of success, so trading him would not be an easy deal.
However, paying him $11 million in each of the next three seasons is not an easy deal, either.
Finding a team to pay part of Rollins’ salary would free up more payroll, give the Phillies more flexibility at the top of their lineup and certainly change the team’s makeup by moving the longest current tenured Phillie.
Trade Vance Worley and Prospects to the Houston Astros for Jed Lowrie
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Lowrie has still yet to play in 90 games in a season in the major leagues, after a base runner slid into him and he suffered an ankle injury earlier this season.
However, up to that point, Lowrie was also having the best season of his career, batting .253 with 14 home runs and 36 RBI for the Houston Astros.
That didn’t stop the team from potentially being willing to trade Lowrie prior to his injury, according to a tweet by Danny Knobler.
Lowrie is a 28-year-old switch-hitter, whose average was as high as .297 this season.
But what could make him even more intriguing to the Phils is his versatility in the infield. He has experience playing at second base, third base and shortstop.
The Phillies will likely be looking for a third baseman during the offseason, and could need a second baseman after next season. Lowrie could not only become a starter at third base next season, but would also provide the Phils with an option at shortstop and second base.
He’s also making $1.15 million this season. This salary makes him the third highest paid player on the Astros’ roster as of now.
Therefore, if the team were to acquire a major leaguer in return for Lowrie rather than only prospects, they would likely ask for someone with a manageable salary.
Worley is making $495,000 this season.
Worley has looked great at times this year, such as when he posted a 1.97 and 2.70 ERA for the months of April and June, respectively. But he has also had months such as July and August when he’s had a 6.43 and 5.23 ERA, respectively. Worley has already allowed 12 more earned runs than he did all of last season.
The Astros’ starting rotation currently has the second highest ERA in the NL. Worley’s 4.11 ERA would be the second best among current Astros’ starters who have started consistently this season.
There’s no guarantee the Astros would be willing to trade Lowrie for Worley and up to two prospects. But from the Phillies’ perspective, such a deal involving a young starting pitcher could be a shock move that finds them an above average infielder going forward.
Trade Top Prospects to the San Diego Padres for Chase Headley
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Rosenthal’s article also points out that Headley is under team control through the 2014 season.
If the Padres are willing to trade him during the offseason, the Phillies should put themselves in the running so as to try and acquire a third baseman for at least the next few seasons.
Headley, 28, is batting .274 with 20 home runs and 76 RBI this season. Among qualified third baseman, Headley has the second highest home run and RBI totals and sixth highest batting average.
These numbers were enough for Keith Law on ESPN.com (Insider Subscription required) to rank Headley fifth on his list of NL MVP candidates.
So for the Phillies, who will likely be in need of a third baseman, trading for Headley rather than spending big on the free agent market could become an option.
But what will it take to acquire him from the Padres?
Chances are, prospects. Highly ranked prospects.
The Phillies could be hesitant to trade prospects after holding on to them through the non-waiver trade deadline. However, an article by Matt Gelb on philly.com contains a quote from GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. in which he says that the Phils may be able to trade some prospects due to the depth they acquired at the trade deadline.
Would the Phillies be willing to part with Trevor May? May is one of the Phillies’ top ranked prospects, but has gone 9-11 with a 5.17 ERA and 72 walks at Double-A this season.
The Phillies still have Tyler Cloyd and Jonathan Pettibone at Triple-A, and Jesse Biddle in High-A ball.
Trading a top prospect, or prospects, would certainly result in a shock move. But the opportunity to acquire a third baseman for at least the next few seasons could be tempting.
Trade for Jacoby Ellsbury
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After trading Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Phillies will be looking for outfielders to add to their lineup next season.
One player who could be available is Ellsbury, according to a tweet by Nick Cafardo.
Ellsbury is batting just .250 in 42 games for the Boston Red Sox this season, but is just one season removed from batting .321 with 32 home runs and 105 RBI on his way to finishing second in AL MVP voting.
Ellsbury is set to become a free agent after next season, and his agent is Scott Boras, which means the Phillies will have to put any newly obtained payroll flexibility to use if they wanted to sign him long-term.
However, trading a player such as Lee could free up enough payroll room to help with that, if he wasn’t already included in a deal for Ellsbury.
The previously mentioned article by Matt Gelb on philly.com also says that Amaro has made improving the outfield a top priority in free agency.
But what if the team is able to acquire Ellsbury?
As of now, the Phillies are willing to pay Lee nearly $102.5 million over the next few seasons. If Lee is traded, the team could make Ellsbury their next player to receive a huge contract.
By the time Ellsbury reaches free agency, Halladay will also likely be set for free agency.
Ellsbury is a left-handed batter, so the Phils would have to find another outfielder and third baseman that are right-handed in order to have a more balanced lineup. But having another power bat in the lineup behind Ryan Howard could be a huge advantage.
Acquiring Ellsbury would be a shock move, even more so if Lee is involved. As a soon-to-be 29-year-old, Ellsbury would instantly change the lineup’s makeup both currently and going forward.