The Major League Baseball trade deadline is just 10 days away and teams are under the gun to make that big move that will help their pennant pursuits. The National League team perhaps in most need of a deal is the defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies pulled off a massive deal in the offseason to acquire Roy Halladay, but the work is not done. The Phillies are in need of a starting pitcher, but what other trades should the Phillies consider that will help them close the gap in the National League?
Rumors broke this morning on ESPN.com that the Phillies are seriously working on a major deal for a starting pitcher. Roy Oswalt was the first name to come to mind. Oswalt would give the Phillies a power-pitching tandem alongside Roy Halladay and give the Phillies arguably the best one-two punch in the National League East. The price tag may be one sticking point. Oswalt is owed roughly $20 million through the end of next season. That is a steep price for a pitcher that could command top prospects from the Astros. Whether the Phillies can negotiate taking on salary in exchange for lesser prospects or vice versa could determine if this deal gets done.
Haren is another frontline starting pitcher the Phillies are reportedly interested in pursuing. Haren, like Oswalt, will not come cheaply as the Diamondbacks are not committed to dealing their top pitcher. The Phillies parted with Kyle Drabek in the Roy Halladay deal, but the D'backs will likely ask for the Phillies current top pitching prospect Phillippe Aumont who they acquired in the Cliff Lee trade. Haren is the D'backs ace, but isn't viewed as such on the open market. Perhaps strong negotiating could bring the price tag down, but the Phillies would attain a major piece to stick behind Halladay if they can pull it off.
Guthrie and his $3 million salary are likely on their way out of Baltimore. Guthrie has underachieved for the Orioles after showing up as a late-bloomer four seasons ago. Guthrie has always maintained interest from other teams because of his mid—90s fastball, but a 23-38 record since the start of 2008 has him on his last gasp in Baltimore.The good news for the Phillies is that he can be acquired on the cheap. The bad news is that he may not be the impact arm the team seeks. However, a change of scenery could prove enough for a guy with a live arm and strong velocity.
Hernandez appears to defy age. The 35-year-old right-hander continues to eat innings and do so at a high level. Hernandez went into the All-Star Break with a 6-4 record and 2.98 ERA. He’s averaging 6.2 innings per start and could be a valuable piece to the back of the Phillies rotation.Hernandez is not among the first tier pitchers and may not be among the second tier pitchers, but the Nationals may put him on the market with the intention of getting back better value than anticipated. A 40-man roster arm and another young outfielder will be the Nationals target.
The Phillies need all the offense they can get, but trading away Jayson Werth, who is rumored to possibly head to Tampa Bay before the deadline, gives the Phillies a lot of flexibility heading into next season. Top prospect Dominic Brown is ready to breakout possibly right now, but trading Werth confirms that he should take the starting job next season. It's not ideal for what has been at times an inconsistent Phillies offense, but it sets the Phillies up for next season which may be the bigger goal by the end of the month.
Lilly could be one of the biggest pieces heading out of Chicago this summer if the Cubs' pains continue. Lilly is no stranger to being dealt at the deadline and could generate strong interest because of his impending free agency. Lilly is off to a rocky start at 3-8 with a 4.07 ERA, but could be had without giving up top prospects as the Cubs look to unload salary and turn the page to 2011.
Bautista is enjoying a career season as the leading home run hitter in the American League. However, his .241 batting average and lack of track record is enough to be wary of the breakout star. The Blue Jays could, however, take advantage of his career year for some help on the mound. Bautista could be optioned to fill a temporary void in the event they trade Werth but he also gives them flexibility on the hot corner.
There are numerous teams looking for infield help (or simply another bat). Ty Wigginton’s name has so far been the hottest rumor on the hot stove. At .247 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI, Wigginton isn’t having the most productive season. However, the remainder of his $3 million owed this season and impending free agency make him a very hot commodity.
Carmona has appeared to shake off injury concerns, which is good because there are a number of teams inquiring about him this month. Plus, Carmona is young and is under team control through 2014 at manageable prices with flexibility (he is under option years from 2012-2014). The Indians have consistently asked for the top prospect from the other team for their ace (see: CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee) so chances it will not be any different for the Phillies this time around.
Sheets had endured a underwhelming season in his return from injury, but one positive is that he is showing durability and that can take you a long way on the trade market. He is 4-9 with a 4.53 ERA. Sheets will only give a team six innings, but he is going out there every fifth day and that’s more than he’s done over the past few seasons. Billy Beane will likely oversell Sheets and thus push teams out of the market considering the roughly $5 million left on his contract.However, Sheets production doesn't give Beane much of a leg to stand on which could open the door for the Phillies to get him on the cheap.