Ruben Amaro would like to avoid contracts like that of Jonathan Papelbon's going forward. Credit: Getty Images
Since the majority of teams still have hope of earning a playoff berth, the demand for help is high. That’s good news for the Phillies, who can’t be anything but sellers. The sale sign must go up not just since the Phillies are lagging in last place in the mediocre NL East.
Ryne Sandberg’s squad has been incredibly inconsistent and has failed to come through with timely hits. So it’s time to sell, sell, sell. It might be wise for the Phillies to deal sooner than later before more teams drop out of contention.
However, it’s not going to be easy to figure out who the Phillies will trade since some players have huge contracts (Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels), full-no trade (Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley) and a number of issues (Jonathan Papelbon). Who will Ruben Amaro deal?
1. A.J. Burnett
The veteran hurler is pitching through a hernia but Burnett has been solid (3.92 ERA, 1.36 WHIP). Reasonably priced effective starting pitchers (Burnett will $8 million more this season and has a player option for 2015) will be few and far between on the market.
Expect the Pirates, who have turned it around, to make a strong bid for Burnett. The Bucs blew it when they believed Burnett when he said it was Pittsburgh or retirement after their brief playoff run ended. The Pirates have some prospects to deal and the Phillies would eat some of the money for a solid one.
2. Jonathan Papelbon
Yes, Papelbon is overpaid and has more baggage than Lindsay Lohan. But even though his velocity has plummeted, Pap has been effective in 2014. He has converted 18 of 20 save opportunities and has a sparkling 1.39 ERA.
Expect the Giants or Tigers, two major contenders, each lacking effective closers, to make a run at Papelbon. Each team has a veteran clubhouse, which could deal with the mercurial Papelbon. Yes, the Phillies would be happy to consume some of the dollars.
3. Marlon Byrd
Yes, Byrd strikes out a lot (he’s on pace for 188 for the season) but the experienced rightfielder has been productive. He leads the Phillies with 16 homers and an .820 OPS. Byrd also has 49 RBIs. He’s a very good rightfielder and he’s great in the clubhouse. Jason Grilli stressed how much Byrd meant to the Pirates down the stretch last season.
“I love Marlon Byrd,” John Kruk said. “The guy's a winner.”
He’s also reasonably priced. Byrd is owed $4 million for the remainder of 2014 and $8 million next season.
4. Kyle Kendrick
KK has been as inconsistent as the offense. Kendrick, who is also eligible for free agency after the season, is an innings eater, who rarely misses a start. He would make for a solid four on a contender.
5. Cole Hamels
It won’t be easy to deal Hamels due to his massive contract and limited no-trade but he is the Phillie who would bring in the biggest haul of prospects. Amaro would have to receive a motherlode to deal his homegrown ace. He Phillies have to at least think about dealing their biggest piece.
Hamels would be very attractive to contenders since he is young and pitching as well as any hurler in the game. A change of scenery would be huge for Hamels, who gets an alarmingly low amount of run support.