For good reason, the Phillies are being mentioned in nearly every trade rumor involving a right-handed or switch-hitting outfielder.
Raul Ibanez has been a lead anchor in the Phillies lineup. Batting out of the fifth spot, he has gotten on base at less than a .300 clip. Domonic Brown has looked like the rookie he is at the plate. With Shane Victorino being the only Philadelphia outfielder providing consistent offense, the Phillies should definitely be in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder who can do one thing: get on base.
Hunter Pence, Carlos Beltran, Josh Willingham, Ryan Ludwick, and Melky Cabrera have all been listed as possible targets for Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. who is believed to be desperately seeking an outfield bat who can provide a right-handed presence to the team's lefty heavy lineup.
Of all the outfielders on the list, Kansas City's switch-hitting Cabrera seems like the most logical target for the Philadelphia Phillies.
After a down year in Atlanta last season, Cabrera is quietly putting together an excellent season in the baseball backwoods that is Kansas City. He is hitting a very respectable .300 with 12 homers and 57 RBIs. He has also hit 25 doubles with 14 stolen bases in 18 attempts, showing Cabrera has speed to boot.
Considering that Ibanez has hit 13 homers and driven in only 51, Cabrera starts to look very attractive. His run production is even more extraordinary considering much of it has come from the second slot in the batting order.
What the Phillies need is a more consistent outfield bat than Raul Ibanez or Domonic Brown could provide.
When compared with the higher profile names such as Pence and Beltran, Cabrera does not seem like such a splashy acquisition. Both Pence and Beltran are All-Stars, and the Astros and Mets will demand higher compensation.
With new ownership coming in, the Astros cannot afford to lose the potential face of their franchise in Pence for anything less than a treasure trove of prospects.
The Mets reportedly want Domonic Brown in a trade for Beltran. While Brown has not excelled at the plate this year, the Phillies cannot afford to give him up for a two month rental player. Not since the rookie seasons of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have the Phillies had a legitimate star prospect reach the big leagues.
The other players on the list, Willingham and Ludwick, would not meet the Phillies needs for an outfielder who can hit for average. Both are streaky hitters and carry averages below .250. One thing the Phillies do not need is another corner outfielder hitting below that mark.
Now turning the attention back to Cabrera, Phillies fans can speculate until they're blue in the face about a trade for the outfielder, but without looking at the team the Phillies would be dealing with, it is entirely pointless. Would the Royals even want to trade Cabrera?
Which of these outfielders would the Phillies benefit from most?
The Royals have arguably the best farm system in all of baseball. Players such as first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas have already reached the big leagues this season. The Royals also have a handful of outfield prospects led by Baseball America's 10th rated prospect Wil Myers.
Over the years, the Royals have not had as much trouble developing position players, but have struggled to mold an ace. They have some prominent names in their minor league pitching cache, but with the success rate they've had with pitchers, you have to think they wouldn't mind having a few more highly rated arms around.
With plenty of depth in the outfield, the Royals could definitely benefit by trading Cabrera to the Phillies for pitching prospects. Cabrera is not as highly valued as a Beltran or a Pence that the Royals would seek one of the Phillies' top prospects such as Jarred Cosart, who the Phillies have deemed untouchable. A pitcher such as Jesse Biddle or Trevor May could be enough to bring in Cabrera.
Cabrera is also attractive to the Phillies because he is not eligible for free agency until 2013. They would be guaranteed his services for at least one more season. This would allow the Philadelphia to make a seamless transition away from Raul Ibanez in left field.
Trading for Melky Cabrera would not guarantee the Phillies a World Series victory, but it would certainly strike fear into the rest of the National League.