Philadelphia Phillies Trade Rumors: 5 Pipe Dream Waiver Wire Deals
Trade rumors? In August? You've got to be kidding me, right?
No, I'm not kidding you.
With just one full day remaining before the August 31 waiver trade deadline, teams scrambling to get last-minute outside help will surely be searching through the waiver wire to find the players they're looking for. Unfortunately for some teams, this isn't always possible, due to the process of claiming a player off of waivers: The worst teams get highest priority, and the best teams get lowest priority.
Big-name waiver acquisitions are somewhat rare for any team. Not only would the claiming team on a big-name player such as Ryan Howard or Roy Halladay have to trade a plethora of talent to get them, but they only have two days to negotiate a deal. That's why it's more common to see either average starters or backups of all sorts go to other teams via the waiver wire.
However, if a player clears waivers—meaning no team claimed him—he is available to be traded to any team as long as the deal occurs before the deadline. But with all players, it's important to know that any player claimed after August 31 is not eligible for a spot on a team's postseason roster.
A team that could be looking for some players is the Philadelphia Phillies. Because the Phillies hold the best record in baseball at 83-46, they are the last team able to claim players off waivers. While it's a good problem to have, it's a problem nonetheless. If the Phillies are to make any deals at all through waivers, it would undoubtedly be for a low-market player, such as Mike Sweeney last year, or someone lesser known.
Even though the Phillies would love to claim a player along the lines of Lance Berkman—who somehow cleared waivers—it would be practically impossible, though we can dream, can't we?
Currently, the Phillies' biggest gaps are at the left side of the infield (due to injuries of Jimmy Rollins and the ailing Placido Polanco) and a left-handed bat off the bench (due to Ross Gload's nagging torn hip labrum).
With that, here are five players who, if unrealistically acquired, could make the Phillies' waiver dreams come true.
Perhaps we aren't dreaming big enough here, but it's a start.
In St. Louis, Ryan Theriot had quietly been putting together a solid season this year at the plate. In 111 games, he's hit .275 with a homer, 42 RBI and 23 doubles, and he's only struck out 38 times. His OPS is a bit weak at .659, but as a backup, he's faired well.
There are some issues with Theriot worth noting, however. He has a problem hitting fastballs (along with most other pitches), which are theoretically the easiest pitch to hit (sliders are his forte). His defense is also not so great this season. In 91 games at shortstop (his primary position), his fielding percentage is .956; and for you sabermetricians out there, his UZR is -7.9, and his DRS is -5.
Theriot could be a good backup, being able to play second base as well, but he'd be an expensive one, with about $560,000 or so left on his current deal. For a backup, that's expensive, especially just for a month or more of play, since he's a free agent following the season. Being virtually unable to hit anything but a slider and having poor defense sure doesn't help, either.
Don't fret Phillies fans, there's more hope than this.
Although he initially started out slow this season, Hideki Matsui has shown that, despite his age, he's still able to play with the big boys.
At age 37, Matsui has hit .258 with 11 dingers, 64 RBI, and has an OPS of .715, including a slugging percentage of .390, in 114 games. While his stats aren't necessarily as good as those of last season, Matsui's at least proving that he isn't done just yet.
As a DH (and occasional outfielder) of a team that's practically out of contention in Oakland, Matsui could appreciate a move to a top team in need of his services. With the Phillies in need of a left-handed power bat off the bench, Matsui could be their guy. He comes at a somewhat-hefty price of approximately $722,500, but his presence and change of scenery could be just what he needs.
However, it might not be his September play that the Phillies could be looking for. In the postseason through his career, he's hit .312 with 10 home runs, 39 RBI, and a .933 OPS including a .541 SLG. That's what I'm talking about.
And given his impressive résumé, including a 2009 World Series MVP Award with the Yankees, the Phillies would almost certainly be willing to take on his salary and services.
Also a left-handed hitting veteran, Johnny Damon has subtly been shaping up a decent season as well.
Damon, also age 37, has hit .266 this year with 11 round-trippers and 60 RBI and has posted a .737 OPS, including a .421 SLG in 122 games this season as a DH and occasional outfielder. His stats are very similar to those of Matsui, his former teammate, but the plus to Damon is that he is a more readily available defensive option than Matsui, due to the fact that he's more agile, having also stolen 12 bases to Matsui's one.
Having only played 16 games in left field this season, he has a 1.000 fielding percentage, although his UZR is -0.8 and his DRS is -2. Matsui's fielding stats are slightly better than Damon's (they were not mentioned due to his minimal play in the outfield) in a similar sample size, but that depends on the stat as well.
The biggest downside to Damon, as is the case with many of these bigger-name players, is his remaining salary. Of the $5.25 million he makes this season, he is due just under $1,000,000 for September alone. What's more is that Matsui is a better postseason player than Damon—Matsui has hit .312 in October compared to Damon hitting .279, and there is a vast difference in OPS as well.
While this was unintentionally a Matsui-Damon comparison, it's worth noting that Matsui seems like he's worth the money more than Damon.
Damon wouldn't be a bad option, but if Matsui's available for the Phillies' taking, then take the opportunity. Damon might be a better power option, but Matsui could arguably be the overall better player of the two.
We're finally starting to dream big here, folks.
David Wright of the New York Mets hasn't been as stellar this year as he has been in years past. He's dealt with a stress fracture in his back that caused him to miss over two months of the season when it was originally thought that he'd miss only 10 days!
His injury has certainly taken its toll. In the 71 games he's played this season, Wright has hit just .260 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI, and he has an OPS of .785. While these aren't bad stats at all compared to the previously listed players, Wright is considered to be among the elite at third base, if not just below such a status. As a Phillies fan, it kills me to say that, but when Wright is good, he's good.
Ongoing issues concerning Mets owner Fred Wilpon have led to previous trade speculation that Wright could be traded before the July 31 deadline. Since he's still in New York, he can consider himself safe, unless Mets GM Sandy Alderson makes a deal in the 11th hour on August 31.
While I've got nothing against incumbent third baseman Placido Polanco, he's not so young anymore and is much more injury prone. His defense is incredible and his consistency at the plate is unmatched by a majority of others at his position. But with Wright nearly seven years younger than Polanco and much less injury prone at this point in his career, he could be the better option of the two if the Phillies were able to shed Polanco's contract.
Speaking of contracts, Wright's isn't one to sniff at: He's due roughly $2.38 million in September and $15 million next year. With the Phillies treading just below the luxury tax threshold, Wright could be too pricey and the division-rival Mets could demand too much in return.
However, Wright's biggest downfall is his defense, which could be a problem for the Phillies should they acquire him. His fielding percentage in his career is .952, his career UZR is -27.9, and his career DRS is -31. Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn't get much worse than that.
At this point, a move for Wright would be one for the future, not now. But if Polanco is hurt so badly that he can't play to his usual standards, an upgrade could be necessary. The question is whether Wright is a considerable upgrade over Polanco, and that's where the big question mark looms.
Continuing with the dreaming big trend, Aramis Ramirez is definitely an option worth considering after the season for the Phillies. But is he also worth considering now?
Ramirez started off the season slow, but over the last two months or so, he's been red hot. In 126 games with the Cubs this year, Ramirez has batted .308 with 24 homers and 83 RBI and owns an .873 OPS that is mainly due in part to his .520 SLG. At age 33 and in the midst of a contract year, Ramirez has been hammering the opposition and has been worth the money he's been paid.
Ramirez's defense has been average at best. He has a fielding percentage of .965, his UZR is -6.0, and his DRS is -12. Although it is very difficult to find better defense than Placido Polanco, Ramirez's defense should be better considering he's making a total of $14.6 million this season.
There is an issue at hand if the Phillies traded for Ramirez, though, and that's his 2012 option. First of all, Ramirez has 10-and-5 rights, meaning he can't be traded to any team without his consent. Moving past that, his 2012 club option worth $16 million would automatically be exercised with a trade, and he would also be paid an extra $1 million this season if traded. However, he does have the ability to void the option should it be exercised regardless of why, but the Phillies should keep in mind that if they deal for Ramirez, they would be paying a good deal of money to a seemingly resurgent player.
For the remainder of the season, Ramirez is due just under $2.5 million. That's not cheap, and if the Phillies don't want to be on the hook for that plus the $1 million assigned if traded, bringing his remaining salary to $3.5 million and then potentially $16 million next year, then they should stay away. He would almost definitely cost a good deal of prospects from the Phillies, and having parted with four quality prospects already this season, the Phillies might not be able to afford to lose any more.
Should the Phillies be able to afford parting with prospects and Ramirez's option for 2012, then this deal would make even more sense, but at this point, all is still just speculation, especially since Ramirez goes nowhere unless he unexpectedly decided to waive his no-trade clause.
If it was between acquiring David Wright and Ramirez, then Ramirez seems like the better option. He is a bit older, and while his defense isn't better than Polanco's, it's better than Wright's, and he's better offensively this season.