It's that time of year again, folks.
With the Philadelphia Phillies mired in a five-game losing streak and sitting at 49-53, all previous indications that the team would be buyers following a 7-3 road trip leading up to the All-Star break could be for naught if they lose the series against the Detroit Tigers this weekend.
Phillies fans need something positive after their team just got swept by the best team in the majors, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has some serious thinking to do. Should he sell off the team's list of veterans that includes fan favorites Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and even Chase Utley? Should Amaro consider offers for closer Jonathan Papelbon and left-handed ace Cliff Lee? Should he just trade the one guy who's replaceable in Michael Young?
Or should Amaro forget about selling altogether and just look to acquire a bullpen piece and an outfielder?
It's these kinds of questions that linger within the Phillies front office. These questions, however, must be answered within the next couple of days. There's less than a week to go until the July 31 trade deadline, and the longer the Phillies wait to declare their stance, the less leverage they will have in trades they make in the next five days, whether as buyers or sellers.
Even though ESPN's Jayson Stark tweeted as recently as July 24—two days ago—that he talked to a team's executive who said the Phillies are definitely buyers, their losing streak isn't helping cement that position. Until the Phillies declare one way or the other—as in make a trade—their approach will remain as unclear now as it has been for the past month.
Consequently, this slideshow will focus on both aspects of the trading spectrum, first beginning with selling options, and then with potential acquisitions. Some options will be more realistic than others, though all should be realistic enough to prevent any GM from immediately hanging up the phone. Lastly, some of the following trade scenarios are based upon rumors, while others are just speculation.
And please don't forget that the purpose of this is not that the Phillies make all of these trades, but that any one of them could be a feasible deal.
*All prospect rankings and commentary are courtesy of Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook unless otherwise noted. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.
Phillies Trade: 3B Michael Young, C Carlos Ruiz
Yankees Trade: OF Ramon Flores (Double-A)
Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz share a few things in common. Both are well past the age of 30, both are impending free agents and both have received interest from the New York Yankees as potential trade targets.
New York Daily News baseball insider Andy Martino reports that the Yankees have been interested in Young for a while now. CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury previously reported that the Bronx Bombers have internally tossed Ruiz's name around as a possibility. They're logical fits, as the Yankees face question marks both at the hot corner and behind the backstop. They're not easy questions to answer, either.
Recent news surrounding MLB's Biogenesis scandal has named Yankees' injured third baseman Alex Rodriguez as a likely buyer and user of performance-enhancing drugs, which would officially be the second time in his career that A-Rod has used steroids. The findings could result in a prolonged suspension. ESPN's Outside the Lines not only reported that A-Rod was found in Biogenesis documents, but injured Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli's name also appears in documents, potentially linking him to PED usage and possibly lining him up for a future suspension as well.
That's not the whole problem, though. What makes matters worse for the Yanks is that their third basemen are second-to-last in the majors in batting average at .217 and last in OPS at .567. Their catchers aren't doing too well either, ranking 24th in average at .225 and 27th in OPS at .615.
In short, they need help.
That's where the Phillies come in. Michael Young has done an excellent job offensively for the Phillies, batting .278 with a .342 OBP. Compared to what they've had in recent years, Young has been a huge upgrade. For a Yankees team in need of almost anything, Young's as good an upgrade as there is, assuming he'll waive his full no-trade clause.
As for Ruiz, he doesn't boast the same success that Young has had in 2013. After missing the first 25 games for a suspension due to Adderall use, Ruiz lasted all of 16 games before landing on the DL. Since his return from injury, Chooch has batted .252 with a .301 OBP and has hit a whopping four extra-base hits on the season, all of them doubles. His defense is still above-average, but Chooch's inability to bat hasn't exactly helped his case that the Adderall wasn't necessary to his offensive breakout last year.
Nevertheless, Ruiz's offense is still an upgrade over Chris Stewart and Austin Romine, while his defense and game-calling remain valuable assets. Combined with Young, who can play both third and first base, it's a perfect match.
The Phillies won't be getting much in return, though they could net a decent prospect in outfielder Ramon Flores.
On the season, Flores has batted .240 with a .663 OPS in 99 games, all in his first full season at Double-A Trenton. The good news is that Flores, the Yankees' 12th-best prospect entering the season, is expected to have as much as 15-20 home run power, while his ability to hit for average is one that should come sooner rather than later.
He's not a fantastic defender and only has a so-so arm, though he's more than adequate in left field. Flores has tons of potential, though with top prospects Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott in his way, a change of scenery could give Flores a better chance to reach the majors.
In this trade, the Yankees fill their needs while the Phillies shed salary and obtain outfield prospect depth in the process. It's a deal that works out for both sides and could have a decent chance at getting done.
Phillies Trade: SP Cliff Lee, 3B Michael Young, cash considerations (Lee's contract)
Red Sox Trade: OF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Triple-A), LHP Henry Owens (High-A), OF Bryce Brentz (Triple-A)
The second and final deal in this slideshow involving Michael Young finds him shipped off along with left-handed ace Cliff Lee to the Yankees' arch rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
In the previously-linked Andy Martino article, the Red Sox were also listed as interested suitors for Young's services, with CBS Sports' Danny Knobler adding via Twitter that the Phillies' buying ways have made Young unavailable, which served as a letdown to both the Red Sox and Yankees.
And although no official rumors have linked Lee and the Red Sox, he's a natural fit. The team could weather most, if not all of his remaining contract with minimal issues following their salary dump with the Los Angeles Dodgers last August, and they lack an ace without Clay Buchholz in tow. Lee would be ideal for the Red Sox, a team looking to make a deep playoff push in 2013, something which the Boston Herald's Michael Silverman admitted when speculating about a Lee trade to Boston.
Will Middlebrooks still has immense promise for the Red Sox at third base, but his struggles in 2013 resulted in his demotion to the minors. And with Jose Iglesias likely not a promising answer for a team looking to play for the majority of October, Young is a fit for Boston.
As for Lee, one of the Phillies' two All-Stars in 2013, his great performance should carry over, both to Boston and back into October baseball. On the year, Lee's pitched to a 10-4 record with a 3.05 ERA with 131 strikeouts and a 1.01 WHIP. If not for three recent outings in which Lee has surrendered at least four earned runs, his ERA would be hovering around the 2.50 level. Alas, no such thing as omission exists in the end.
Despite Lee being owed a minimum of $62.5 million after this year, the Phillies could still reap in a fantastic prospect haul. If they ate even as little as $5 to $10 million of Lee's contract per remaining season—which wouldn't be a surefire bet—they could receive even better prospects than without both the money and Young. Outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., left-hander Henry Owens and outfielder Bryce Brentz all rank in the Red Sox's top 10 prospects, and all would be attainable in a Lee-Young deal.
Bradley entered the season second in the Red Sox organization only to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and with a strong showing in spring training, he made the Opening Day roster. It didn't last too long though, and with a poor offensive performance, he was demoted quickly. Bradley's been brought back up a couple of times throughout 2013, but he hasn't managed to stick on the active roster. He's got 15-20 home run power and his defense and arm are outstanding in center field, possibly enough to shift Ben Revere to right.
Owens ranked as the Red Sox's fifth-best prospect before the season began, and he's done nothing but up his stock on the season. In 19 starts, Owens is 8-4 with a 2.78 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 116 strikeouts in just 97 innings. He needs to refine his command in order to be a successful starter in the majors, but with three plus pitches in his fastball, changeup and curveball, Owens is slated for a terrific MLB career, possibly as a frontline starter.
Finally, there's Brentz, the Red Sox's eighth-best prospect entering 2013. Another outfielder, he' batting .272 with an .808 OPS, 16 home runs and 53 RBI in 75 games. He lacks some of the tools Bradley bests him in, such as plate discipline and outfield defense, but his arm is excellent as well and his inferiority to Bradley just goes to show how good Bradley can be. Brentz should be a dependable right fielder when he gets to the majors, though that may not be far off.
On paper, this may not look like a balanced trade due to the caliber of prospects the Phillies would receive in return. But as long as Xander Bogaerts' name doesn't arise in discussions, the Red Sox should be more than willing to accommodate the Phillies' demands for prospects.
Both sides win here, with the Phillies bolstering their prospect depth and rankings, while the Red Sox better poise themselves for a 2013 World Series title.
Phillies Trade: SS Jimmy Rollins, cash considerations
Cardinals Trade: 2B Kolten Wong (Triple-A)
There's a lot to be said about Jimmy Rollins.
Now the longest-tenured Philadelphia player in all the four major sports, J-Roll has manned shortstop with elite defense and decent pop for the Phillies since 2000. He's casually considered the spark plug and the heart of the Phillies, even though his hustle comes under fire from time to time.
Ask any Phillies fan and they'll either praise Rollins to the grave or criticize his consistent ability to hit pop-ups and jog to first base on a ground ball.
Regardless of what one may think of Rollins, he's played an important role for the Phillies over the years and has been there for many key moments, including the Phillies' second World Series title in 2008. But with a contract due to pay the offensively-declining Rollins $11 million in 2014 and at least $5 million in 2015, is his presence on the Phillies truly warranted or even needed?
Since J-Roll has 10-and-5 rights, he can't be traded anywhere without his consent, though the West Coast has appealed to him in the past. If Rollins wants to win, though, he'd have to settle for St. Louis since none of the West's competitive teams are in dire need of a shortstop. That's where the Cardinals come in.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently noted that the Cardinals refuse to part with any of their top prospects—pitchers Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha, outfielder Oscar Taveras and second baseman Kolten Wong—unless they receive a significant shortstop upgrade over Pete Kozma or high-end starting pitcher. In the article, Miklasz also writes that the cards kicked the tires on Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez but were rebuffed.
Perhaps the availability of Rollins would be significant enough for the Cardinals to part with one of their four top prospects.
In a Rollins-Cardinals deal, the prospect who would fit most ideally would be second baseman Kolten Wong. Wong, who's now blocked at the major league level by Matt Carpenter, was ranked as the Cardinals' fifth-best prospect before the season. Standing at just 5'9", Wong has intriguing power that could easily exceed 10 home runs per season, and he's a terrific bunter. His defense has improved tremendously, as have his instincts.
Wong's also excelling at Triple-A this year, batting .297 with an .815 OPS, seven home runs, 30 RBI and 14 steals in 88 games. With no long-term role available in St. Louis, this trade would be perfect for both teams, as Rollins goes to a contender needing his services, while the Phillies get a true second baseman of the future, allowing them to swallow a possible loss of Chase Utley, which could come either after the season or in the next few days.
Phillies Trade: 2B Chase Utley
Dodgers Trade: LHP Chris Reed (Double-A), RHP Matt Magill (Triple-A)
Although Jimmy Rollins has been the heart of the Philadelphia, Chase Utley has easily been its soul and its cornerstone. Ever since he slugged a grand slam for his first hit in the majors, Utley evolved into baseball's best second baseman for the latter half of the 2000s, but was derailed in 2011 and 2012 by chronic degenerative knee injuries.
Now 34 years old, Utley is in the midst of the final year of the seven-year, $85 million contract extension he signed before the 2007 season, which remained the most expensive contract ever handed out to a second baseman until Dustin Pedroia signed a $110 million contract extension earlier this week. If he's not extended, which CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury reports could be in the works, Utley will hit the free-agent market for the first time in his career following the season.
Unless he's traded, of course.
Utley's an interesting commodity at this year's trade deadline, as it's the first year since 2010 in which a knee issue hasn't prevented him from playing. When Utley's been on the field, he's been great, evidenced by his .283 average with 13 home runs, 36 RBI and .859 OPS. And as the absolute best second baseman available in a trade market thin on talent at the position, he could bring back a very talented prospect or two.
The team who's seemingly been connected to Utley in the rumor mill since day one is the Los Angeles Dodgers. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported earlier this month that the Dodgers would be interested in Utley should he be available, which would bring him close to his childhood home of Pasadena.
While I tend to disagree to an extent, ESPN's David Schoenfield writes that Utley could bring a nice prospect package return if he was traded. In my opinion, Utley could net one good prospect at best or two average prospects, but to even things out, one of each has been included in pitchers Chris Reed and Matt Magill.
Reed entered 2013 as the Dodgers' sixth-best prospect and is said to have very impressive yet raw stuff. His fastball registers as high as 96 on the gun with some sinking action, while his slider has a big bite to it when it's on. The biggest thing Reed needs to work on is his command, and though he could make the majors sooner as a reliever, the Dodgers want him to start. On the season at Double-A Chattanooga, Reed is 3-7 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and has 81 strikeouts in 101.1 innings (21 games, 17 starts).
Magill came into 2013 as the Dodgers' ninth-best prospect and has a fastball that can touch 95 miles per hour. Like Reed, he has a slider with some nasty bite along with an average changeup. Magill is most praised for his baseball intellect and boldness to attack the strike zone. He made his major league debut on April 27 of this year and didn't pitch to the best results in his six starts, posting a 6.51 ERA and 0-2 record, but he's got some nice upside.
Overall, the red-hot Dodgers get a quality second baseman in Utley, while the Phillies get a pair of high-upside pitching prospects from the Dodgers without draining their system. It's a win-win situation for both teams, aside from Utley not necessarily finishing his career in Philadelphia, of course (if you're sentimental).
Phillies Trade: CL Jonathan Papelbon, cash considerations
Tigers Trade: OF Avisail Garcia (Triple-A)
If there's any one trade the Phillies must make before the deadline, it's trading Jonathan Papelbon to the Detroit Tigers. Detroit needs a top-flight closer and the Phillies need prospects, of which Detroit has a few to spare. Nevertheless, the Phillies wouldn't be able to get much in return in trading Papelbon most anywhere. The Phillies can best dump Papelbon and most of his salary while getting something decent in return if they strike a deal with the Tigers.
Papelbon has had an uncharacteristic season in 2013. He's blown five saves, yet still carries an ERA of 2.27 with 20 successful opportunities and a 0.88 WHIP. His velocity has dipped more than it should and his strikeout rate is down, but it's not making any major headlines. Sure, he hasn't been an outstanding closer for the Phillies on the whole, but he's more than serviceable and would be at least of that caliber anywhere else.
In the linked article above, I discussed a possible prospect return for Papelbon from Detroit. The majority of what influences the Phillies' return is just how much money they'd be willing to eat in a trade. With Max Scherzer needing a contract extension soon and Miguel Cabrera hitting free agency again in just a couple of years, the Tigers have money, but not as much as they've had.
The Tigers' three top prospects, Nick Castellanos, Avisail Garcia and Bruce Rondon, would all come into play in a Papelbon trade, but Garcia would probably be the most expendable. For one, the Tigers are set with Austin Jackson in center field and left field has Matt Tuiasosopo until Castellanos reaches the bigs. Rondon is a nice asset to have in case Papelbon falters or is later traded again. That leaves Garcia as the best option for the Phillies, who could use a top outfield prospect anyway.
Garcia is useful in that he's the Tigers' best power hitting prospect and has their best outfield arm. A good defender, Garcia also can run a bit and should have 20-20 potential. He's spent 30 games with the Tigers this year while also spending 33 games in the minors, and though his minors stats are ostensibly better, it shouldn't take him too long to raise his average from the .240s. After all, Garcia batted .319 in 23 games in 2012 and made the Tigers' postseason roster. His future is bright.
While Castellanos or Garcia and Rondon would be more ideal, this is probably the Phillies' best bet at shipping off Papelbon, even if they ate a couple million a year. It's a substantial deal that would net the Phillies a right fielder of the future while completing Detroit's roster and setting them up as possible World Series favorites.
Phillies Trade: RP Phillippe Aumont (Triple-A), RHP Tyler Cloyd (Triple-A)
Twins Trade: RP Casey Fien
Moving to the other side of the trading spectrum, the Phillies last struck a deal with the Minnesota Twins in the offseason, netting them Ben Revere in exchange for Vance Worley and Trevor May. At the onset of the season, neither side was really winning until the end of April, when Revere took off and Worley was demoted to Triple-A. Since then, Revere broke his ankle on a foul ball, so for now, the Phillies' hottest hitter sits on the DL.
If the Phillies do buy, chances are it won't be anything extensive. Even so, a reliever like Casey Fien would suit them nicely. Since he latched on with the Twins before last season, Fien has managed to post a 2.56 ERA with a 0.92 WHIP in Minnesota. In 2013, his ERA stands at 2.98, while his WHIP is an improvement at 0.87. He also has 45 strikeouts to boot in 42.1 innings. All in all, good stuff.
With other relievers such as Brian Duensing also possibly available, the Twins have a surplus of bullpen talent that could be in high demand. Already the Phillies have sent a scout to watch the Twins, presumably their relief corps, according to 1500ESPN.com. Could the Twins use that to their advantage and ask for more?
Maybe, but probably not. What they do have to their advantage is that Fien doesn't hit free agency until after 2018 and isn't arbitration-eligible until after the 2015 season. With that in mind, the Twins will probably want a solid piece or two in return. Enter Phillippe Aumont and Tyler Cloyd.
Aumont has always been a work in progress since being the centerpiece of the Phillies' return from the Seattle Mariners when they traded Cliff Lee to them before the 2010 season. He's been up and down, a starter and a reliever, and even though he's made it to the majors, he's been largely unsuccessful.
Aumont's Achilles heel is his lack of command, but when he's on, he's on. Aumont's fastball hits the upper 90s and his splitter can be deadly. There are just too many what-ifs, and after two demotions to the minors this year, maybe all he needs is another change of scenery.
Cloyd was the Phillies' Paul Owens Award winner on the pitching side of things last year in addition to the International League MVP. After going 12-1 with Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year, Cloyd dueled against Matt Harvey last August in a matchup of pitchers making their MLB debuts.
He wasn't as good in the majors as he was in the minors, but with Cloyd barely reaching 90 with his fastball, most anything was impressive. However, his season this year has primarily been disastrous at Triple-A, as he's gone 2-8 with a 6.19 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. Anything that was there last year is seemingly gone.
This would be a trade of two guys who could use more opportunity and clean slate for a guy who already got that opportunity. For the Phillies, they'd have to hope that it doesn't backfire on them in more ways than one, but as long as Fien pitches the way he has, he could be a key addition to future Phillies bullpens.
Phillies Trade: RHP Mitch Gueller (Low-A), C Cameron Rupp (Triple-A)
Cubs Trade: SP Carlos Villanueva
As Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has said on multiple occasions, you can never have too much pitching. To an extent, he's right, and this especially applies to a role the Phillies have lacked since Kyle Kendrick made a full move to the rotation: a swingman.
Carlos Villanueva of the Chicago Cubs would be a valuable piece to have as a swingman for the Phillies. Signed to a two-year, $10 million deal last winter, Villanueva has spent recent weeks as a starter but began the year as a reliever. On the season, Villanueva has pitched to a 4.23 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, which would more than suffice for a fifth starter swingman type.
Being cheap, yet likely a contract the Cubs wouldn't mind shedding, Villanueva could come rather easily for the Phillies. Mitch Gueller and Cameron Rupp would be an ideal package for Villanueva in a trade.
Gueller, selected with the Phillies' second draft pick in 2012, entered 2013 as the Phillies' 17th-best prospect. He's got plenty of upside, flashing a fastball that ranges from 90 to 93 miles per hour but can touch 95. He also features a decent breaking ball and changeup.
He's apparently got some baseball smarts and has been more than willing to adjust himself, which bodes well for his future. Although his 3-3 record with a 5.08 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in seven starts doesn't help solidify his talent, Gueller remains a work in progress.
Rupp was ranked as the Phillies' 22nd-best prospect before the season began and he's probably the organization's most major league-ready catcher. He's got raw power as a hitter and is a pretty solid defender, though he doesn't run fast.
After a so-so start in Double-A, Rupp was promoted to Triple-A where he's actually batted for more consistency, but his OBP has gone down a bit too much. Rupp's another guy who still needs some refining, but not too much, which would bode well for a team like the Cubs that's low on catching prospects.
A relatively minor trade, it could bolster the Phillies bullpen and give them a veteran option instead of Tyler Cloyd when spot starts are needed. Although Gueller's a nice prospect, he's not going to be in the majors anytime soon, so the Phillies could probably afford to make this trade without any long-term ramifications.
Phillies Trade: C Sebastian Valle (Double-A), 3B Mitchell Walding (Single-A)
Marlins Trade: OF Justin Ruggiano, RP Ryan Webb
ESPN's Jayson Stark suggested that the Phillies and Miami Marlins could be good trade partners since the Phillies like Justin Ruggiano and could use one of their bullpen pieces. There's a possibility that, depending upon demand around the majors, this trade may not be enough on the Phillies' side to get a deal done. But nothing's impossible, and if the Phillies are willing to trade a couple of middling prospects, they could get a nice backup outfielder in Ruggiano and a solid setup man in Ryan Webb.
Ruggiano has value in that he's versatile in the outfield and is a solid defender. However, he doesn't hit for much, which is clearly evidenced by his .201 batting average and .648 OPS. He does boast some power, slugging 12 home runs and driving in 32 runs, along with some speed, culminating in 12 stolen bases. Ruggiano's most valuable in that he's not arbitration eligible until after this season and isn't a free agent until after 2016.
Webb is by no means a stellar pitcher, what with his 1.42 WHIP, but with a 3.15 ERA to boot in 43 appearances, it's nothing to laugh at. Like Ruggiano, Webb follows the same arbitration track, becoming eligible after this year and a free agent after 2016. He's only 27 years old compared to Ruggiano at 31, so not only is the guy young, but a proven commodity as well.
MLB.com's Joe Frisaro is reporting that bullpen pieces Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn are likely unavailable, so it could make Webb all the more appealing in a trade.
In return, the Phillies would send off catching prospect Sebastian Valle and third base prospect Mitchell Walding. The former, Valle, was formerly viewed as the Phillies' catcher of the future, but with the addition of Tommy Joseph in last year's Hunter Pence trade to San Francisco, that no longer seems to be the case for the Phillies' 14th-best prospect.
Couple that with Valle's lowly hitting and you've got yourself a prime candidate in need of a fresh start. In Double-A this year, Valle's hit just .216 with a .644 OPS, though his 11 home runs in 67 games don't hurt. His defense has improved enough for him to remain near the upper end of Phillies prospect rankings, but unless his hitting really improves, the Phillies may not have a better time to trade him than now.
Walding was the Phillies' fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft, and he could be something special when he comes into his own. He's got tremendous upside, and even though he's just the Phillies' 16th-best prospect, it's only due to his lack of extensive tenure in the system.
Originally a shortstop, Walding is still learning the ropes of third base, but with great raw power and an awesome swing, Walding could move faster through the system than anticipated. In Single-A Lakewood, he's batted just .235 with a .690 OPS, but he's got time to fix whatever's troubling him.
This would be a deal that could be a risk for the Marlins, but a good risk at that. Valle was once a top catching prospect in the majors and could get back there with one good season. Walding's got tons of promise. And for pieces that really won't be a huge part of Miami's future, Ruggiano and Webb would net a nice return here.
Phillies Trade: RHP Shane Watson (Single-A), OF Larry Greene (Single-A), 2B/OF Andrew Pullin (Single-A)
White Sox Trade: RF Alex Rios
This is where things get a little tricky. The Phillies don't want to part with their uppermost prospect talent, and the Chicago White Sox, who are thin on talent, may not be amenable to that. If they are and would be willing to take quantity over quality, this trade could work out, especially if the Phillies were willing to take on most of Alex Rios' remaining contract.
Rios would be an acquisition target that would only make sense if the Phillies really made a push to win it all this year. That may not be possible even with Rios. But if they somehow feel that they can win even with their current slump, Rios could be a good fit for the Phillies, who desperately need an upgrade over Delmon Young.
On the season, Rios has been pretty good, batting .276 with a .767 OPS, 12 home runs and 49 RBI. He's also stolen 21 bases, which would provide the Phillies with a speed threat in the absence of Ben Revere.
Rios' biggest problem is his contract. He's owed the remainder of $12.5 million this year and $12.5 million next year, plus at least $1 million as part of a buyout in a potential 2015 club option worth $13.5 million. He's no pretty penny, but what he could provide the Phillies lineup with ability-wise just isn't available elsewhere on the trade market.
Consequently, the Phillies would have to trade three middling prospects to get this deal done, the first being Shane Watson. Watson came into 2013 as the Phillies' 12th-best prospect and after a decent start last year, had to sit out for a while due to a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Watson's fastball has a large range from 89 to 95 miles per hour, while his curveball is above-average and his changeup continues to improve.
Larry Greene was the Phillies' first pick in the 2011 draft and the 11th-best prospect entering the season, but he's still got some work to do before he truly shows where he stands. With a poor work ethic, Greene hasn't blossomed into the power threat he was expected to be, but if he can bear down on himself, he'll get there. Batting just .234 with a .656 OPS and three home runs in 79 games, Greene is definitely a work in progress, but he's got the potential.
Andrew Pullin would be the final piece of this deal. A sleeper pick in the 2012 draft, Pullin has very good batting instincts and is versatile in his ability to man both second base and the outfield. With plus bat speed and a good arm, Pullin has the potential to become more than a major league regular as he can carry over his abilities throughout the minors. So far, he's on his way at Single-A, batting .276 with a .714 OPS.
This could be a bit of a risky deal for Chicago, but if the Phillies take on all of Rios' remaining salary, it's certainly possible. None of the prospects are slated to bust yet, though Greene does carry what scouts call "extreme" risk. Nevertheless, this deal could be a win for both sides if the prospects involved pan out for the White Sox, but it shouldn't be one-sided when all's said and done.
Phillies Trade: RP Jake Diekman, LHP Adam Morgan (Triple-A)
Angels Trade: OF Peter Bourjos
Peter Bourjos is a name that has casually been floated around as a viable target for the Phillies, but this year more than ever, they could use his talents. However, Bourjos fractured his wrist in late June and will be out until at least August. That may cause the Angels to wait until he returns and re-establishes his value, but if that isn't the case, the Phillies could make a nice offer for the defensive whiz.
Jake Diekman has been a lesser version of Phillippe Aumont in that his potential is lower, but his struggles have not been as severe. Diekman does struggle with control at times and walks far too many batters, but with an outstanding slider and a fastball that reaches the 94 to 95 range, he's got the potential to be a dominant setup man at worst. On the year, Diekman's stat line isn't pretty with a 4.50 ERA and 2.00 WHIP, but it's only come in 19 appearances, so it's not fully telling. Diekman still needs some polishing, but he's not far off from reaching his potential.
Adam Morgan entered the 2013 season as one of the Phillies' best pitching prospects. Ranked fifth in the Phillies farm system, Morgan was considered a better prospect than Jesse Biddle by ESPN"s Keith Law. He likely would have made the majors soon after Jonathan Pettibone did if not for a slight rotator cuff tear. His control is above-average, and with four quality offerings in his fastball, slider, changeup and curveball, Morgan could be at least a No. 3 starter in the majors.
Bourjos' defense and ability to get on base have always been the envy of other teams, but perhaps the Phillies could strike and get a deal done, even if they had to surrender an extra piece. Since he's not a free agent until after 2016, Bourjos could still command a hefty package, but he's not necessary in Los Angeles and a trade would suit him and the Angels best.
All in all, Bourjos may be out of the Phillies' price range, but if the Angels like Morgan, he could be attainable. The Phillies would have arguably the best defensive outfielder in the majors, and with youth on his side as well, it does nothing short of help them for the future.