10 Realistic Trades Philadelphia Phillies Could Make at 2014 MLB Trade Deadline
During the MLB All-Star break, players and fans alike took a four-day breather from the rigorous 162-game season to celebrate the best players in the game and to focus on other priorities for a few days. From a fan perspective, this could not have been any truer for supporters of the Philadelphia Phillies, who have watched the team go 43-55 and sit 11 games out in last place in the National League East division.
Consequently, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has publicly said that changes are coming to this team (per CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury). Whether that's in the form of trades, minor league promotions or both, it's worth noting that this is arguably the most candid Amaro has ever been concerning the state of the team during his tenure as Phillies GM.
So where does Amaro go from here? It's almost a foregone conclusion that the Phillies will sell at this year's trade deadline. Given the lack of production on the major league team and the lack of offense and starting pitching depth throughout the organization (per Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer), the Phillies need to—and for once, likely will—make as many moves as possible to replenish the dearth of talent in the farm system.
Amaro's job could also hang in the balance of this trade deadline. In a radio interview with 97.5 The Fanatic's Mike Missanelli, Amaro was asked if he has been guaranteed an offseason to clean up this mess. Although Amaro did not explicitly say he has not been given that promise, he was dodgy in his answer and it led to an inferred conclusion that that is indeed the case.
This trade deadline is both the most important for the Phillies and for Amaro in recent history. On the brink of what will likely be a full-out rebuilding phase, the Phillies need to get pieces to jump-start the process.
Amaro is responsible for bringing in talent—and the right talent at that—to create the future for the Phillies. The difference between years past and 2014, however, is that Amaro has no margin for error. If Amaro makes even a slight mistake, it could mean the difference between his employment after 2014 and a new general manager at the helm in 2015.
Due to the Phillies' current state, all trades in this slideshow will be of the selling variety. The Phillies are not in a position to be acquiring talent by surrendering the few minor league pieces they have. There are no spare parts, and that's what needs to change going forward.
Please keep in mind as well that the following list of trades, which are based on rumor, speculation or both, are not all intended to happen. Rather, any of the following trades are meant to be feasible possibilities, but it's not like the Phillies will likely be making 10 trades in the span of roughly 10 days.
Ladies and gentlemen, with that in mind, here are 10 realistic trades the Phillies could make at or before the 2014 MLB non-waiver trade deadline.
*All prospect rankings and commentary are courtesy of Baseball America's 2014 Prospect Handbook unless otherwise noted. All contract information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.
Phillies Trade SP Cliff Lee to New York Yankees
Phillies Receive: C Gary Sanchez (Double-A), OF Aaron Judge (High-A)
Yankees Receive: SP Cliff Lee, cash considerations
Since the Phillies started losing again after the 2011 season, left-handed ace Cliff Lee's name began to pop up in trade rumors again and again. When it became clear that the 2012 season was not a fluke and the team was destined for losing, Lee was considered one of the hottest names potentially available in trades. However, he has not been dealt as of yet, but 2014 could finally be the year that Ruben Amaro Jr. deals Lee.
With a 21-team no-trade clause, Lee primarily has a say in where he goes should an offer arise. However, among the eight teams Lee does not have protection from—meaning he can be traded to without his consent—is a team he almost signed with nearly four years ago: the New York Yankees.
In an AL East division that lacks a true front-runner, the Yankees are in the thick of the hunt. While they are five games behind the division-leading Baltimore Orioles and sit with an even .500 record at 47-47, the Yankees have an ability most other teams in baseball do not: the ability to take on payroll. And as ESPN.com's Buster Olney notes in an Insider-only article, Lee should be traded to a high-payroll team. It's a perfect match.
Lee is expensive despite being under contract for just one more guaranteed season. Due the remainder of $25 million this season and $25 million more in 2015, not too many teams can take on Lee's contract comfortably. The Yankees would be able to do this, and they have the talent to spare.
Although the Yankees don't have the greatest farm system, they have one of the minors' best catching prospects in their top prospect, Gary Sanchez.
Although he's an offensively minded catcher, Sanchez's defense has taken strides in recent years, and his arm is spectacular from behind the plate. He's also got above-average power, so he'd fill a nice need for the Phillies going forward, especially if Carlos Ruiz finds himself on the field less and less in future seasons.
While the Yankees have a plethora of outfield prospects, its 2013 first-round pick and the system's sixth-best prospect, Aaron Judge, might have the most potential of them all. He's going to take some time to develop, but Judge is incredibly athletic and impressive raw power. At 6'7" and 255 pounds, Judge is an imposing figure, albeit one who could be a star down the line.
Technically speaking, the Phillies probably wouldn't have to eat too much salary in a deal with the Yankees, if any at all. Sanchez's inclusion is a must either way, and it's not like the Yankees have room for him, with Brian McCann only in his first season of a five-year contract. However, the Phillies should probably eat some money in order to make the Yankees parting with someone like Judge more palatable.
Of course, this is all pending Lee's successful return from injury. And if he's not traded in July due to a lack of suitors, perhaps an August trade could occur. The sooner the Phillies can trade Lee, though, the better.
Phillies Trade RF Marlon Byrd to Seattle Mariners
Phillies Receive: C Tyler Marlette (High-A), LHP Tyler Pike (Double-A)
Mariners Receive: OF Marlon Byrd
One of the bright spots on the Phillies this season has been outfielder Marlon Byrd. Signed to a two-year, $16 million contract this past offseason, Byrd has surprisingly maintained a power bat after what was considered to be a potential fluke 2013 in which he slugged 24 home runs.
Although $8 million a year is somewhat steep for a 36-year-old outfielder, Byrd has warranted that production with his 19 home runs, 55 RBI, .266 batting average and .802 OPS. He's one of the best right-handed power bats on the trade market this season, and fortunately for the Phillies, that means he'll have a higher premium if and/or when he's dealt.
Byrd's contract is relatively trouble-free, though it has a four-team no-trade clause. The four teams listed on it, according to an interview of Byrd himself by CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, are the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners. When asked about the latter two teams, Byrd seemed to brush their inclusions off, stating in the aforementioned article that "[the Royals and Mariners] really are things that were just put on at the time being."
Nevertheless, it's another hurdle to overcome in any trade talks between the two teams, especially since reports have emerged that Byrd would want his 2016 player option guaranteed if traded to Seattle, per SB Nation's Chris Cotillo. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick recently tweeted that the Mariners have scouted Byrd, while Dan Hughes of sodomojo.com suggests that Amaro would want to receive Mariners utility man Dustin Ackley and prospects for both Byrd and change-of-scenery candidate Domonic Brown (more on him later).
Regardless, should a deal between the Phillies and Mariners be consummated, it would likely involve a couple of organizational top 10 to top 15 prospects, given the market price for power bats. Headlining the Phillies' prospect package return would be catcher Tyler Marlette, with southpaw pitcher Tyler Pike also included.
Marlette, the Mariners' No. 7 prospect, is another offense-first catcher who's got more to work on defensively than Gary Sanchez—though, of course, he's also at a lower minor league level. His specialty is power, while his defense is coming along, but his footwork is still a work in progress. Marlette can also hit a ball to opposite field with few issues, while his eye and plate discipline are decent.
As for Pike, who falls at No. 16 on the Mariners' prospect list, he has a somewhat slow fastball but sports a solid changeup and deceptive delivery. He's also hesitant to throw inside to batters, which will need to change if he expects to make the majors. At just 20 years old, though, Pike has some time to get himself together.
Byrd has been a valuable player for the Phillies in 2014—the team might be a lot worse right now if it weren't for some of Byrd's offensive heroics this year. He could end up being even more valuable as trade bait, and if he's able to net the Phillies some prospects without the team eating much salary, if any, the investment was a good one.
Even if it doesn't work out to the fullest, it's difficult for the Phillies to make out worse than they did the last time they struck a deal of major proportions with Seattle.
Phillies Trade RP Jonathan Papelbon to Detroit Tigers
Phillies Receive: SS/2B Domingo Leyba (Low-A)
Tigers Receive: RP Jonathan Papelbon, cash considerations
Jonathan Papelbon has been a roller coaster in Philadelphia. In his first season, he was one of the lone bright spots on a team that ended up selling off players in July and August.
Last year, Papelbon seemingly blew save after save while his velocity ticked downward at an alarmingly fast rate. In 2014, although the velocity has not returned, Papelbon's status as an elite closer has, and it's given him renewed trade value.
There are catches with Papelbon in a trade. For one, he's currently in the midst of a four-year, $50 million contract that contains a vesting option that's activated if Papelbon essentially stays healthy next year. That option is for $13 million as well, which is no small chunk of change. He's got a reputation as being a clubhouse cancer, too. And Papelbon has a no-trade clause that could stand in the way of negotiations with some teams.
However, the Phillies may find themselves able to deal Papelbon anyway, as he's on record of stating that he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause if he's dealt to a contender, per The Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb. With Papelbon's value possibly never being higher again and Ken Giles potentially ready to supplant Papelbon as Phillies closer in the wake of a hypothetical trade, now is the time for the Phillies to deal him.
Although many teams could use bullpen help, not too many can afford Papelbon's contract, even if the Phillies ate half of it. One team that could find a way to acquire Papelbon, though, is the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers, who are sitting pretty in first place in the AL Central, have one Achilles' heel, and that is their bullpen. After signing elite veteran closer Joe Nathan to a two-year contract this past year, Nathan has been a shell of himself, and closer-in-waiting Bruce Rondon is out for 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery during spring training.
If the Tigers want to win a World Series, they need bullpen help. Papelbon would offer that, and the good news for the Tigers is that they probably wouldn't have to give up too much, even with the Phillies eating a decent portion of his remaining salary.
A prospect who would fit this mold is shortstop and occasional second baseman Domingo Leyba. Ranked as the Tigers' eighth-best prospect entering the 2014 season, the 18-year-old Leyba isn't expected to have excessive power, but he's got a very good feel for hitting.
His defense is sound enough at shortstop that he should be able to stay there, but he can play second base in a pinch if need be. Leyba isn't close to the majors—he's probably a good two or three years away at best—but he's a high-upside talent that the Phillies could develop into a decent role player.
Yes, the prospect return is underwhelming, but that's not the purpose of trading Papelbon. The Phillies need to shed as much of his contract as possible, and doing so paves the way for the emergence of an effective, homegrown bullpen. Anything more is a bonus for the Phillies.
Phillies Trade LF Domonic Brown to Tampa Bay Rays
Phillies Receive: SP Alex Colome (Triple-A)
Rays Receive: OF Domonic Brown
Most Phillies fans know the story of Domonic Brown, the once-untouchable prospect. Teams trading players like Roy Halladay and Hunter Pence to Philadelphia could not do so if they expected to receive Brown in return. He was supposed to be a five-tool player, a generational talent, a diamond in the rough after being drafted in the 20th round of the 2006 MLB draft.
Of course, it hasn't turned out that way. Brown has gone from top-five talent in the entire minor leagues to bust in the span of just over three years. His defense is atrocious, while he looks lost at the plate. The instincts are not there.
There is no more hoping that Brown will be able to turn things around with more playing time. He's had a hold on the starting left field job for almost two seasons, and he isn't capable of producing for the Phillies.
All hope is not lost for Brown, though. His power surge in May and June last season put him back on the radar as a potential power threat, and even though he's lacking in that department in 2014, the pedigree helps his value, if only slightly. Teams will be willing to take a chance on a player like Brown, who could benefit from a change-of-scenery kind of trade.
Although the Seattle Mariners are a somewhat-logical fit, for the sake of diversity in this article, the Tampa Bay Rays will be used as the hypothetical trading partner in a Brown deal. They too have a player who could possibly benefit from a change of scenery in swingman Alex Colome.
Colome, the Rays' fifth-best prospect entering 2014, is a borderline prospect at age 25, but he's still got promise. Before the season, though, he was slapped with a 50-game suspension for using a banned substance, while he also suffered from elbow issues in 2013.
Colome's fastball has a lot of promise and is able to hit 97 on the gun, while the rest of his repertoire should suffice in the majors. It's not certain if he'll end up as a starter or reliever in the long run, but he's certainly capable of doing either task.
What should make Colome available is the amount of pitching depth the Rays have. Granted, they could deal David Price within the next two weeks or in the offseason if he's still around, but that should net the Rays some arms.
Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson should also be healthy in 2015 and beyond, barring any setbacks. And with a savvy front office, the Rays will find players and ways to bolster their rotation going forward.
Brown's potential at a bargain rate would highly appeal to the Rays, especially since Matt Joyce and Desmond Jennings are streaky, while Ben Zobrist will either be traded or likely gone via free agency this winter. For a team that's not going to be in the postseason in 2014, they have the time and patience to give Brown a shot to prove himself once again.
Phillies Trade RP Antonio Bastardo to Cincinnati Reds
Phillies Receive: LHP Ismael Guillon (High-A)
Reds Receive: RP Antonio Bastardo
Antonio Bastardo has had an interesting Phillies career. Originally developed as a starter, Bastardo quickly made the switch to a reliever after failing to make the 2009 rotation and struggling when given his chance.
He's thrived as a reliever since and has improved year after year, for the most part. However, Bastardo received a 50-game suspension to end his 2013 season due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, so he does raise some red flags.
Many of those red flags should have been lowered by now, though, as Bastardo has put together a fine 2014 campaign as one of the Phillies' left-handed setup men. In 42 games this year, Bastardo has pitched to a 3.38 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP. What should encourage interested ballclubs even more, though, is that Bastardo's FIP is 3.18, meaning that his performance should improve with better defense.
There should be no shortage of suitors looking for relief help, especially when it's left-handed and as cheap as Bastardo, who's making just $2 million this season. According to CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, the Cincinnati Reds have expressed interest in both Bastardo and outfielder Marlon Byrd. It makes sense since Reds lefty setup man Sean Marshall is out for the rest of the year due to injury, and Bastardo is a rather inexpensive Band-Aid.
Bastardo won't bring back the heftiest of returns since he's just a reliever and is only under team control through next season. However, an intriguing prospect the Reds can offer is a fellow left-hander by the name of Ismael Guillon.
Though only the 12th-best prospect in the team's somewhat-thin farm system, Guillon has decent upside. He's got a fantastic changeup and a serviceable curveball. Although he's 22 years old and is probably still a couple of years away from the majors, Guillon is the kind of prospect the Phillies could reap the benefits from in such a deal, even if he ends up as a reliever in the end.
The Reds replenish their bullpen and attempt to pull ahead in the incredibly tight NL Central, while the Phillies free up a little salary and get a high-risk, high-reward candidate. The younger relievers get the chance to pitch in high-leverage situations. It's a win for everybody.
Phillies Trade CF Ben Revere to Kansas City Royals
Phillies Receive: RHP Christian Binford (Double-A)
Royals Receive: OF Ben Revere
While Ben Revere has provided some value for the Phillies, it hasn't gone as well as they had hoped. Although Revere has hit for a solid average and has offered a baserunning threat while donning Phillies pinstripes, he hasn't done much else. He doesn't get on base consistently enough, has zero power—well, except for his first career home run this year—and his defense is shoddy at best while his arm is a noodle.
Most teams might have Revere slotted as a fourth or fifth outfielder, but the Phillies aren't most teams. They're pathetically weak in outfield depth, and as a result, Revere practically has a stranglehold on the starting center field job as long as he's healthy and is a Philly.
Could the latter change if the Phillies go for a fire sale this trade deadline? Possibly. It's far from a sure thing since Revere will be cheap through arbitration and is a Super Two, so he'll be under team control through 2017. But if the right offer comes along, the Phillies should at least give it a chance.
A team who could use Revere's services for either starting or backup duties is the Kansas City Royals. With just Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain for center field options, the Royals could use the depth—and speed—that Revere can provide.
Despite his youth and team-friendly contract situation, Revere just isn't valuable enough to bring back a boatload of prospects in a trade. After all, it only cost the Phillies Vance Worley and Trevor May to acquire Revere two offseasons ago, and that was when he was inexperienced and less of a known commodity.
In this trade, it would cost the Royals right-handed pitching prospect Christian Binford. The Royals' 10th-best prospect before the season, Binford has had Tommy John surgery before but still can throw a 93 miles per hour heater. His delivery isn't ideal and his other pitches need some work, but Binford could end up as a mid- to back-of-the-rotation starter.
This would be a fair trade that, while not necessarily ideal for the Phillies to make, would allow them to reset in center field if they feel a change is needed. The only question would be who replaces Revere, but that's a separate issue, one the Phillies could patch up for the rest of the year and determine in the offseason.
Phillies Trade SP A.J. Burnett to Baltimore Orioles
Phillies Receive: C Chance Sisco (Single-A), LHP Stephen Tarpley (Low-A)
Orioles Receive: SP A.J. Burnett, cash considerations
A.J. Burnett has been serviceable in his first year in Philadelphia. Despite pitching through a sports hernia for most of the season, Burnett has still been effective in 2014, and he could bring back a decent prospect package if dealt. He's making the remainder of $15 million this year and is guaranteed at least $7.5 million in 2015 if he doesn't retire, but his results should be able to outweigh the costs.
A logical landing spot for Burnett would be the Baltimore Orioles. They need the pitching, and Burnett lives rather close to Baltimore, so it's a natural destination for Burnett if a trade works out. And as FOX Sports' Jon Morosi recently tweeted, the Phillies and O's have already engaged in preliminary discussions on a Burnett trade to Baltimore.
Due to Burnett's price tag, he's not going to net the Phillies a guaranteed difference-maker in the prospect department, even assuming that the team eats some of his remaining contract. Instead, he could bring back a haul of two decent prospects who could develop into very nice future pieces for the Phillies.
The first player the Phillies would receive in a Burnett trade with the Orioles would be catcher Chance Sisco, the team's 10th-ranked prospect.
Like many of the other catching prospects mentioned throughout this slideshow, Sisco is a bat-first catcher who has an advanced feel for hitting at just 19 years old. His arm is rather good; however, he will need to improve his strength if he wants to have a future as a power hitter. While he hasn't caught for too long, Sisco is very athletic, so his ability to be mobile behind the plate is crucial to his development as a catcher.
Stephen Tarpley is a left-handed pitching prospect who came into 2014 as the Orioles' 21st-ranked farmhand. His fastball isn't too intimidating, regularly sitting in the 90-92 range, though it has hit 96 on occasion. Although he threw a curveball, changeup and slider, the O's had him stop pitching with a slider so he could bolster his curveball. He's still a work in progress with a somewhat-tense delivery, but with time and practice, he should be able to remain a starter in the long run.
Considering that the Orioles have a top-heavy farm system and would be getting a staff ace in Burnett, they really wouldn't be giving up too much in this deal. Meanwhile, the Phillies would acquire two prospects with plenty of potential to improve their own farm system.
It's a decent trade with plenty of upside for both teams, as Burnett's acquisition could be just what Baltimore needs to be a legitimate threat in October.
Phillies Trade SS Jimmy Rollins to Oakland Athletics
Phillies Receive: RHP Nolan Sanburn (High-A), 1B Matt Olson (High-A)
Athletics Receive: SS Jimmy Rollins, cash considerations
As is the case with each of the final three Phillies players in this slideshow, Jimmy Rollins is no sure thing to be dealt. He's got 10-and-5 rights, which grants him a full no-trade clause. And although he has been somewhat wishy-washy about his stance in waiving that no-trade clause, Rollins has most recently accounted that he has no intentions of doing so, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports.
In the same piece, Rollins jokes with his wife Johari of the decision between being traded to the Detroit Tigers or the Oakland Athletics. While it's nothing more than a sarcastic comment, one of the two teams in particular makes a lot of sense. Now that the Tigers have enlisted prospect Eugenio Suarez as their starting shortstop until Jose Iglesias returns, the Oakland A's remain as a viable destination for Rollins should a trade opportunity arise.
The longstanding assumption has been that Rollins would be more likely to accept a trade if he was dealt to a West Coast team, since he's from the Oakland area. Coincidentally, though the A's are not in dire need of a shortstop upgrade, they have already made their 2014 World Series intentions known by acquiring starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs for their top two prospects and former top prospect Dan Straily.
What's important to note in light of this deal, though, is that the Athletics are likely still chomping at the bit for any possible upgrades they can get. In a video interview with ESPN.com's Jim Bowden, Oakland GM Billy Beane admitted that he's ideally not yet done dealing this summer.
With A's shortstop Jed Lowrie struggling this season and in the final year of team control before free agency, Rollins and the Athletics are a match made in heaven.
Now that most of Oakland's best prospects have been depleted, though, it will take some creativity on both sides to strike a deal. Due to Rollins' likely vesting option next year at $11 million—a hefty sum for the low-spending A's—the Phillies will undoubtedly have to eat some salary in any Rollins deal. Doing so, however, will mean the Phillies can receive better prospects in return for J-Roll, and that's exactly what they'll get in Nolan Sanburn and Matt Olson.
Sanburn, the A's 11th-best prospect entering this season, is a right-handed pitcher with plenty of upside. He's been the unfortunate recipient of injury woes during his time in the A's system, but Sanburn offers a 93-94 miles per hour heater that can hit 96. His curveball is also a plus pitch, while his changeup continues to improve. Sanburn has spent most of his time relieving in the A's system, mainly due to injury concerns, but he's able to start if that's what the Phillies would want him to do.
As for Olson, he comes in at 12th in the Athletics' farm system, but it's worth noting that MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo ranks Olson at No. 3 in the A's organization following the sendoffs of Addison Russell and Billy McKinney in the Samardzija trade.
At 6'4" and 235 pounds, Olson has a natural build meant for a power hitter, though he's still learning how to harness it. His defensive acumen is above average, and he has a stronger arm than expected for a first baseman. While he has upside as a heart-of-the-order bat, Olson needs to improve his contact rate as he matures.
While this might not be an eye-popping trade proposal on paper, it's one that could really reward the Phillies if it comes together. With Rollins more likely to approve a trade to Oakland than almost any other team in baseball—at least, in theory—it's a deal that might not take too much time to discuss.
Now that Rollins has the Phillies' all-time hits record as well, he might embrace a trade more than he would have in previous years. It's all speculation, of course, but it's at least educated speculation.
Phillies Trade SP Cole Hamels to St. Louis Cardinals
Phillies Receive: RHP Carlos Martinez (MLB), OF Stephen Piscotty (Triple-A), LHP Marco Gonzales (Triple-A)
Cardinals Receive: SP Cole Hamels, cash considerations
Perhaps more than any other move, a trade of Cole Hamels would signify a rebuilding period for the Phillies. Hamels, arguably the team's best-ever homegrown pitcher, has been through thick and thin with the Phillies and has cemented himself as one of the best left-handed starters in baseball.
But with Hamels under contract for at least four more years at $23.5 million apiece, he's a pricey player to hold on to if the Phillies continue their losing ways.
The plus side to dealing Hamels is that he's got the most trade value of any Philly, and a Hamels deal with the right team could single-handedly put the Phillies on a faster track back to relevance.
With the St. Louis Cardinals looking for a veteran arm to complement ace Adam Wainwright at the front of the rotation, Hamels is the ideal candidate to interest the Cards. Even more significant is that the Cardinals are one of few teams with the assets to trade to Philadelphia without thinking twice about doing so.
Hamels has had an excellent season in 2014, and had he been healthy since day one, he could have easily found himself as a Phillies representative at this year's All-Star Game. On the year, Hamels has pitched to a 2.83 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 115 strikeouts in 114.1 innings. His 4-5 record isn't flattering, but it's more indicative of the lack of run support Hamels has received in his starts this year than any measure of ability.
With the Phillies likely having to eat some of Hamels' contract obligations going forward to facilitate a deal, the Cardinals could be more willing to part with some of their top prospects. The names returning to the Phillies in such a deal would be right-hander Carlos Martinez, outfield prospect Stephen Piscotty and southpaw starter Marco Gonzales.
Martinez, the Cards' No. 2 prospect going into 2014, has electric stuff despite his small frame of 6'0" and just 165 pounds. His fastball regularly sits at 97 miles per hour and has hit 101 on the gun. Of his first 117 pitches in the Cardinals' pennant run last year, 10 registered at 100 mph or more, while 21 other sinkers came in at around 96. Martinez also has a solid slider he took on instead of a curveball. He's still not fully polished, but he isn't far off from becoming a front-line starter if he can master a third pitch.
Piscotty is not only a top outfield prospect for the Cards, but he's also expendable. In the majors, St. Louis has already had enough trouble fitting top prospect Oscar Taveras into the everyday lineup, and with Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Allen Craig and Peter Bourjos creating quite the logjam, someone has to go.
The Cardinals' fourth-best prospect, Piscotty was a third baseman before being drafted and made the switch to right field almost seamlessly. He's expected to be a terrific hitter for average and can effortlessly hit the ball to opposite fields. Piscotty has potential 20-home run power, but it may not be as evident until he reaches the majors.
Gonzales, the team's first-round pick in last year's draft and fifth-overall prospect, has accelerated at a rapid rate, already making his MLB debut this season. He's got a fantastic changeup and has a fastball that sits around 88-91 mph. His delivery and command are above-average as well, and he should be a mid-rotation starter when all's said and done.
Hamels being traded to begin with is no certainty. However, it helps that one of the nine teams not included on his no-trade clause is the Cardinals, according to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, so there shouldn't be too many hurdles to overcome in a deal aside from financial issues.
The Phillies would fill rotation needs with MLB-ready players and receive a top outfield prospect who could help them rather soon. And with playoff-veteran Hamels in tow, the Cardinals could make a legitimate push to win it all in October this year and for many years to come.
Phillies Trade 2B Chase Utley to San Francisco Giants
Phillies Receive: SP Kyle Crick (Double-A), OF Mac Williamson (High-A)
Giants Receive: 2B Chase Utley, cash considerations
It would pain Phillies brass and fans alike to trade Chase Utley. Utley has no intentions of waiving his 10-and-5 rights, as he indicated when interviewed at All-Star Game festivities this year, per CBS Philly. At the same time, however, Utley is a team player, and he mentioned that he'd have to consider the notion of being traded if an offer signaling an out of Philadelphia came his way.
Being traded is not something Utley wants, and fans have an attachment to him like they do to no other athlete in the city of Philadelphia. The team wants Utley to stay. Utley wants to stay and retire a Philly. Fans want to see that happen. But if the team enters a full-fledged rebuild this summer, Utley could be one of the team's most attractive pieces, for better or worse.
The NL All-Star starter for the 2014 All-Star team at second base, Utley has shown that he's still got plenty left in the tank when healthy. Signed to a two-year, $27 million contract extension almost a year ago, Utley has options after those years that vest assuming Utley spends little to no time on the DL with knee-related injuries.
As a result of his renewed production this year, many teams will likely be interested in Utley if he is in fact made available. One of the most obvious suitors for Utley would be the San Francisco Giants in such a situation.
The Giants, who lack a reliable second baseman despite Marco Scutaro's recent return from injury, would welcome someone like Utley with open arms, and The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo has reported that the Giants will be "taking their best shot" at acquiring Utley.
However, his price at his age may turn them off to an extent, so even if it's only a small percentage, there's a good chance the Phillies would have to cover part of Utley's remaining guaranteed contract.
Doing so could give the Phillies some high-impact prospects, though. Starting pitcher Kyle Crick, the undisputed top prospect in the Giants' system, is expected to be a front-line starter in the major leagues.
Although he played first base in high school, Crick has shown plenty of promise as a pitcher, regularly throwing his fastball in the mid-90s and touching 98 from time to time. His delivery has some deceptive qualities to it, while his curveball is an above-average pitch and his changeup should be good enough to fool hitters in the majors. Crick's biggest concern is his command, since his pitches have so much life on them, but it should make enough progress that he can be a top starter when he's ready.
On the other hand, the Phillies would be buying low on outfielder Mac Williamson, the Giants' fifth-best prospect. Williamson underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this season on his throwing arm and is expected to miss the remainder of the year, but he showed promise when on the field. He's got a solid power bat with an athletic build at 6'4" and 245 pounds.
While his arm isn't always accurate, it should be strong enough to hold its own in right field, where Williamson currently plays. Williamson will be taking some steps back before taking steps forward due to the injury, but he could be a nice piece for the Phillies assuming his recovery goes the way it should.
Out of anyone on this list, Utley is the least likely to be traded. He has a sentimentality attached to him like nobody else on the Phillies roster, and his team-first attitude has always resonated with fans. If Utley does in fact go, though, the Phillies would do well to acquire Crick and Williamson from the Giants despite a rather underwhelming return from San Francisco the last time the two teams made a trade together.
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