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.