Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro’s phone is on.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports the only Phillies who are off limits as Major League Baseball’s trade deadline—set for Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET—approaches are Domonic Brown, Cole Hamels and Chase Utley. It’s no surprise these three will be staying through July.
Brown has been one of the team’s players with the most potential in recent years, but he just started to hit this year. Through 99 games, he’s hitting .271/.316/.531 with 24 home runs and 69 RBI. He also represented the Phillies at the All-Star Game a few weeks ago. He’s the key to Philadelphia’s future.
Utley will likely be the Phillies’ second baseman for the next couple of years, although his contract is set to expire at the end of this season. Hamels is under contract through the 2018 season, and, while he hasn't been sharp this year (4-13, 4.09 ERA), there are no indications this is anything but a fluke season for him.
The Phillies could still deal Cliff Lee, but Salisbury reports the team will likely only pull the trigger if it’s offered a slew of top prospects. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported on Monday that a team would need to give up three or four top prospects in order to land the left-handed ace.
Michael Young and Jonathan Papelbon are the other notable names up for grabs in the coming hours, per Salisbury, but it appears the team’s closer will likely stay put. The Tigers were one of the teams where Papelbon would fit, but Detroit acquired Jose Veras from the Houston Astros, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN).
Young could certainly be on the move, though. He’s a versatile player who’s hitting .277/.342/.402 with seven home runs and 32 RBI through 98 games. Teams seeking infield help or an upgrade at the designated hitter spot in the lineup may look to acquire the veteran.
Will the Phillies trade Cliff Lee?
In the next day or so, don’t expect to see many huge moves from the Phillies. Unless a team sells its system to land Lee, Amaro’s office probably won't be announcing any blockbusters. Young will likely get dealt, but he could be the lone Philly player switching teams before Wednesday afternoon’s deadline.
Aside from the Phillies’ plans for the next 30 or so hours, here’s a look at what two other organizations will look to accomplish in that time frame.
Boston Red Sox
I've said it several times, and I'll say it again: Boston needs a starting pitcher.
Rob Bradford of WEEI reports Boston may be reluctant to give up top prospects in order to acquire starting pitchers such as Jake Peavy or the aforementioned Lee. The Red Sox do have a lot of talent in the minor leagues, but they need to be careful about which players they can afford to give up in a potential deal.
Peavy appears to be the best fit for Boston, but it would be a bad decision on the part of general manager Ben Cherington to give up someone like Xander Bogaerts in exchange for him. The right-hander has been hurt often in recent years and isn’t the ace he used to be. He’s not worth a top prospect.
Lee is a different story, as he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball and is under contract through at least the 2015 season—there’s an option on his deal for the 2016 season. Boston would likely need to give up Bogaerts as well as other top prospects in order to get him, though. Would Lee be worth it? That’s up for debate.
Boston may be forced to go with internal options—like Brandon Workman—or acquire someone who can pitch in the middle of the team’s starting rotation. Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports the team has scouted Bud Norris, and he’d be more of a No. 3 starter with Boston than a No. 1 starter with Houston.
The Red Sox have also been checking in on Young from the Phillies, per Bradford. That’s because Jose Iglesias has gone from being on fire to ice cold in the blink of an eye. Through 62 games this season, the shortstop, who’s been playing third, is hitting .330/.377/.410 with one homer and 19 RBI.
But since the start of July, Iglesias is only batting .200/.244/.213. He only has one extra-base hit in his last 23 games and has walked twice. Boston could use Young to spark the offense at the position. The Red Sox could also recall Will Middlebrooks, who struggled to hit for average earlier in the year.
The Orioles enter Tuesday five games behind the Rays in the AL East. While Baltimore could work its way to the top of the division with the talent currently on the roster, it appears general manager Dan Duquette isn’t satisfied. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports the team could make a big move.
Rosenthal names Peavy, Young and Justin Morneau as players Baltimore could try to acquire before Wednesday afternoon. The Orioles have already added to their pitching staff in the last few weeks, landing Scott Feldman from the Chicago Cubs and Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers.
While Baltimore would enhance its playoff chances by trading for Peavy, he likely wouldn’t be worth the price tag. The Orioles are willing to deal top prospect Dylan Bundy if the team is going to get the right return, per Rosenthal. This is an absolutely mind-blowing idea.
There isn’t one player who could get traded before the deadline who would be worth Bundy. He’s one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, not just with the Orioles. He’s still young but is bound to be the team’s future ace, pitching alongside Kevin Gausman in the Baltimore rotation. The team can't trade him. Period.
The only reason the Orioles would look to acquire Young or Morneau would be to fill in as the team’s designated hitter. Nolan Reimold has been the DH for the bulk of the season, but he is now on the disabled list. That spot in the lineup has been second-worst in the AL this year in terms of WAR, per FanGraphs.
It wouldn’t be crazy for Duquette to make a move, but he really needs to be careful about the talent he’s going to be giving up. The Orioles can’t afford to crush their minor league system, especially in terms of pitching. They're going to need those young pitching prospects in the near future, so Bundy should be off-limits.
All statistics in this article were obtained via FanGraphs unless otherwise noted and are current through July 29. All injury information was obtained via Baseball Prospectus and all contract information was obtained via Cot’s Contracts.