The way the Philadelphia Phillies have played this season has at times made it seem like the only hope is to blow up the entire roster and start over.
Of course, once the pain from a recent loss wears off, it’s easier to think of more realistic options.
The longer it takes for the Phillies to improve on their standing in the National League East, the longer the debate will rage as to whether they should be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
Recent seasons have seen the Phils become buyers at the deadline, as they acquired players in hopes of advancing deep into the postseason.
This season, however, players may be brought in to simply help the team reach the postseason.
Or the reverse could happen.
Should the Phillies decide to trade some of their own players at the trade deadline, two of their impending free agents will come up in talks. As Ken Rosenthal wrote last month, at least one team has already inquired about trading for certain players. A trade featuring one impending free agent, Cole Hamels, could result in the Phils receiving great improvements to their farm system. But what about a trade featuring another impending free agent?
Can the Phillies get enough help from a Shane Victorino trade to make it worth it?
Well, if that help is in the form of current major league talent that is ready to step in and make a difference, the answer is likely no.
However, if that helps is in the form of prospects who may contribute in a few years, the answer could change.
Victorino is batting .252 with eight home runs and 33 RBI through 70 games. He has also stolen 15 bases, which puts him sixth in the National League. Victorino’s home run and RBI totals also rank near the top of the National League among center fielders.
So, would any team be willing to offer the Phillies a substantial trade package in order to acquire the 31-year-old outfielder, especially if he stays only for the remainder of this season?
Although the chances of the Phils receiving a current major league contributor in exchange for Victorino are slim, an offer involving a prospect that is ranked in the top 10 of a team’s minor league system could be enough to make a deal worth it.
For that matter, any deal involving a prospect ranked in the top 10 of a system and a prospect ranked in the top 25 of a system or a relief pitcher at the major league level could be intriguing to the Phillies.
With a minor league system that has its share of pitching prospects, a deal for Victorino involving a high-ranking position prospect could be the type of help that interests the Phils.
A team such as the San Francisco Giants could be interested in Victorino if they are unwilling to commit to Melky Cabrera or Angel Pagan long-term.
Both Cabrera and Pagan are set to become free agents after this season, and both currently have batting averages well above their career averages. Adding Victorino to the mix would give the Giants yet another impending free agent, but also the opportunity to put either Cabrera or Pagan in right field in order to bolster their outfield. The Giants are currently within striking distance of first place in the National League West.
Of the three, Victorino’s consistency, with the exception of this season thus far, could make him the more attractive option for the Giants to meet the salary demands of a long-term contract. Victorino has batted over .270 in all but one of his major league seasons in which he played in over 100 games.
Another team currently in contention that could be interested in Victorino is the Cincinnati Reds, who could be willing to acquire the outfielder even if just for the remainder of the regular season and a possible postseason run.
With Hamels, Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz nearing raises and potential replacements needed at third base and left field, the Phillies may not be able to sign Victorino to the long-term deal he’ll be looking for during the offseason.
And with John Mayberry, Jr., who was batting .368 over the past week, and Domonic Brown, who batted .297 in the 10 games prior to suffering a knee injury, the Phillies may have options in center field should they decide to spend money on other areas of the roster.
Brown had been receiving playing time in center field at Triple-A prior to his injury.
An outfield for the remainder of the season consisting of Pence, Juan Pierre and his .323 batting average and a possible platoon of Mayberry and Brown could be solid enough to allow the Phillies to trade Victorino.
With Victorino, the Phillies run the risk, as they do with all impending free agents, that he will sign elsewhere during free agency and the team will receive nothing in return.
However, a mid-season trade built around a team’s top-10 prospect and top-25 prospect and/or major league reliever could bring about a return that greatly favors the Phillies.
Can a Victorino trade provide the Phillies with immediate help that betters their playoff chances? No.
Can a Victorino trade result in the acquisition of a prospect or two that can help the Phillies in a few years? Yes.
Which means that a deal involving Victorino could be out there that is worth it for the Phils.