At the moment, it appears as though the July 31 MLB trade deadline is circling the Philadelphia Phillies.
The team hasn't been involved in any trades just yet, but it feels like half their roster is available.
Why not? The team would need a turnaround of epic proportions to reach the playoffs.
Not only that, but behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees in payroll, they have plenty of giant salaries they probably wouldn't mind dumping.
They also have a lot of intriguing veterans who could help contending teams, and their farm system could use some replenishing.
Of course, if you ask general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. about the trade deadline—as Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly did Saturday—you might be met with a cool response:
I'm not going to go through a trade deadline discussion every day. The only thing I can tell you is we're going to try to do what we can to improve our club. That's my standard answer; I'll probably end up saying it 30,000 times. That's it. That's all I've got.
Luckily for you, dear readers, we have plenty more than that.
Salisbury's report touched all the bases when it came to potential Phillies on the move.
He had this to say about Jonathan Papelbon:
Papelbon is on record as saying he's ready to go to a contending team and his 17-team no-trade clause will not be an impediment. Papelbon did offer one caveat on Saturday: If he can control it, he won’t go to a team that doesn’t plan to use him as a closer.
With 23 saves, a 1.17 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP, Papelbon has been solid for the Phillies this season.
From Amaro's standpoint, the problem with moving him is that teams will expect the Phillies to eat some of his salary—how much will likely be the difference between whether he's moved or kept.
Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett are also said to be drawing interest from around the league, per Salisbury:
Byrd is coveted by teams looking for a right-handed power bat. Seattle and Cincinnati fit that description. Byrd has a no-trade clause to Seattle so he'd likely want his $8 million option for 2016 guaranteed to go there. Byrd's 2015 salary is already guaranteed at $8 million.
Cincinnati is not on Byrd's no-trade list and the Reds do have interest in him. Sources say they also have interest in lefty reliever (Antonio) Bastardo. The Reds have scouted the Phillies recently.
The Yankees and Blue Jays are both looking for starting pitching, but sources say they are cool on Burnett.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports had more on Byrd via Twitter:
Byrd has been quite good for the Phillies in his first season with the club, hitting .266 with 19 home runs and 55 RBI.
He's another player with a big contract—a familiar theme in Philadelphia—but for a team needing a surge of production in the middle of the lineup, adding Byrd would make a ton of sense.
Burnett, meanwhile, hasn't been as impressive in Philadelphia as he was with Pittsburgh in 2012 and 2013, but he still has value as a middle-of-the-rotation arm, even if his contract is severely bloated.
Cliff Lee is another player who could be dealt, a move which could net the Phillies some solid prospects.
Though teams around the league might generally prefer Cole Hamels, Philadelphia would be nuts to get rid of the home-grown 30-year-old, who probably has another five years of solid pitching in him. It seems unlikely he'll be moving in a deal.
Fan favorites Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are also likely to stick around: Both are on record that they want to remain in Philadelphia.
During the All-Star break, Utley rather bluntly told the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com) that he would love to stay with the Phillies:
The grass isn't always greener on the other side. I've picked some brains over the course of the last few years. I really enjoy Philadelphia. I love playing baseball in Citizens Bank Park. I love playing in front of Philly fans. There's no better place to play in my opinion. Obviously winning is important and you want to do that, and I would like to do that in Philadelphia.
And in June, Rollins told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the Phillies "would have to come up with a reason for (him) to leave."
Nightengale also mentioned that Rollins "never expressed desire to leave" the Phillies during their interview, and that the 35-year-old shortstop has strong ties to the city:
"Philadelphia is home, where his two kids were born. It's where his wife grew up and in-laws live."
There you have it.
While the above players have created plenty of buzz, another well-known commodity—the New York Mets' veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon—doesn't exactly have potential suitors knocking down doors at Citi Field, according to the New York Post's Mike Puma:
That's not terribly surprising: The 41-year-old is 8-8 with a 4.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 95 strikeouts in 126.2 innings pitched.
He also hasn't posted a win since June 24.
For a team needing a fourth or fifth starter in the rotation for a playoff push, however, Colon is a solid option with postseason experience.
For many teams interested in being buyers on the market, he's probably a plan B or C. Before they go to Colon, they'll likely call the Phillies first.
After all, it would seem most of the contending clubs around the league are checking in with Philadelphia these days.
All statistics are current through games played July 20.
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