Cliff Lee commands a high salary, but when healthy is among the best lefties in the MLB. Credit: Getty Images
It's that time of year again. With July just around the corner, and the Phillies a half-dozen games out of first place in the NL East, a crossroads for the team could be coming soon -- and fast.
But whether there will be a firesale or a slow descent into falling out of contention will be determined, in large part, by the players and not by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro. Top trade chips Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee have (at least a limited) no trade clause, and other big names like Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon have so much money on their contracts they may be unmovable.
With just over five weeks remaining until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some rumors that have been circulating.
1. Cliff Lee to the Yankees
This has been in the works for five years. The Yankees missed out twice on the lefty, and need a top of the order hurler to go alongside Tanaka to help them keep pace in the AL East. The Phillies could demand MLB ready talent, and the Yankees have it in Dellin Betances. If the Bombers throw him into the mix and Lee is healthy at the All-Star break, this move could happen.
2. Jonathan Papelbon to the Angels
If the Phillies are willing to take a hit to their wallet (and swallow some of Papelbon's massive contract), a move to the Angels could yield a middle-of the road prospect for the Phillies to build off of. It would also give Ken Giles and the rest of the Phillies' pen a chance to grow a little more for the future. Angels closer Ernesto Frieri has blown three saves already and has an ERA north of 5.
3. Domonic Brown to the Blue Jays
This deal almost happened last year, but the return will be much lower for the constantly slumping outfielder. After parts of five seasons in red pinstripes, it might be time for a change of scenery for the once untradable prospect. The Jays could give Philly a similar outfield talent in a swap of young sluggers.
4. A.J. Burnett to the Mariners
The problem with this one is, Burnett would have to travel -- pretty far. But if he continues to pitch solidly, the 37-year-old hurler is doing nothing but holding a roster spot a Phillies prospect can take (if the team is rebuilding). The M's are looking to keep pace in the competitive AL West and could use a middle-of-the-rotation stater.
5. Marlon Byrd to the Royals
According to Andy McCullough at The Kansas City Star, the Royals, who are a young team vying for a playoff berth, need a right-handed bat, and a veteran outfielder. The team had a letdown from Nori Aoki in right field, and Byrd, with his above average glove and speed, and middle of the order lineup, could be a good fit for the Royals. The team has a deep and rich farm system and could offer the Phillies a decent return.