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July 05, 2023

Ranking the 10 most untouchable Philly athletes right now

Which Philly stars are the least likely to be traded right now?

Eagles Phillies
Jalen-Hurts-Lane-Johnson_122721_USAT Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Jalen Hurts after throwing a touchdown pass to Lane Johnson.

It's a slow period on the sports calendar, which is why we are ranking things this week here at PhillyVoice.

Shamus Clancy already broke down the 10 best named athletes in Philly, as well as the 10 jerseys that would make the best investments for fans. Next, we're going to attempt to do something a little more serious and daunting.

There are high profile trade rumors currently circulating for basically every team in the city right now. The Phillies are nearing the trade deadline as they look to contend again, the Sixers are looking for somewhere to send James Harden and the Flyers are in full rebuild mode

We already dove into mock trades for the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers a few weeks ago. Now, we're going to look at things from the other side of the lens. Which current players under contract for the major four teams are the most valuable where they currently are, and therefore "untradable" from the perspective of the home team?

The reasoning for the list of 10 guys below is simple: who do we perceive the local front office to be most apprehensive about trading away right now to another team?

10. Lane Johnson, Tackle, Eagles

Johnson is being paid like one of the best tackles in football — but he happens to be just that. The Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in the game and it really begins with Johnson, who will play at least another two seasons with the Birds as they look to add another Super Bowl to his resume. 

It would be positively shocking, and is really unthinkable for the Eagles to include or consider Johnson in any kind of trade and that's why he leads off our list, even at 33 years old and $30 million.

9. J.T. Realmuto, Catcher, Phillies

Realmuto has been streaky offensively this season, but even in a slightly down year he's better than almost every other catcher in the game. Having Realmuto on the roster, playing nearly every day almost immediately gives the Phillies an edge on their opponents. 

Once again, he's expensive and he's over 30 (like Johnson), but he's got to be among the most valuable Phillies and it would be illogical for a competitive team to consider moving a backstop like him.

8. A.J. Brown, Receiver, Eagles

We're sticking with the 'expensive but totally worth it' group of players here, as Brown is just 26-years-old and in the meat of his prime as he rakes in touchdowns and yards for the Eagles. Fresh off a 1,496 receiving campaign that saw him catch 11 touchdowns, Brown's arrival last summer helped fuel the emergence of Jalen Hurts as one of the best quarterbacks in football.

Brown is making $25 million a year which is near the top of the market. But how many receivers would you swap Brown for straight up in the NFL. Three? Four? He's not going anywhere.

7. Andrew Painter, Pitcher, Phillies

Yeah this one could be a stretch. But it could also be an undervalue. Painter is the best prospect the Phillies have, he's been insanely good in the minors, 6-2, 1.48 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 109.2 innings. Once he recovers from his minor arm injury — which is is currently en route to doing — he could make his MLB debut at age 20 this summer.

Short of some kind of bonkers Shohei Ohtani trade, there is no universe in which the Phillies part with Painter right now.

6. DeVonta Smith, Receiver, Eagles

Smith is on here because he's really good — 1,196 yards and seven scores his second season in 2022 — but also because he is incredibly valuable to the team due to his rookie contract, which pays him just over $5 million per season. He's leaps and bounds cheaper than his teammate Brown, but Brown is not five times better than Smith.

Smith is not going to be traded. He has the perfect skill set to compliment Brown as an outside receiver and gives the Eagles a field-stretching weapon who is young and still getting better every year. He'll also likely get a lucrative second contract with the Birds two seasons from now.

5. Jordan Mailata, Tackle, Eagles

It's interesting when you look at the places that Howie Roseman and the Eagles choose to spend their money. It's at quarterback, wide receiver, pass rusher, cornerback and of course offensive tackle. Mailata is being paid $16 million per year on his recent contract extension, the 18th most for a tackle in the NFL. He is better than 18th. 

The value is there, and the 26-year-old seems to get better every single season. It's not unlikely that he becomes a staple at the position for the decade and there are few things the Eagles covet more than that. 

4. Bryce Harper, DH/outfielder, Phillies

Harper has had a weird stretch for the Phils, injuring his elbow, being relegated to their DH, winning NLCS MVP and now, potentially being moved to first base. But all of that just shows the grit and value of the Phillies $330 million man. He's already won an MVP with the team and has helped lead them to a surprise World Series. His leadership in the clubhouse and his devotion to his chosen hometown has also endeared him to the city.

Perhaps, in the distant future when Harper is nearing 40 and the team is desperate to get some salary relief he'll be mentioned in trade rumors, but the idea of Harper being included in a trade of any sort is absolute insanity right now.

3. Tyrese Maxey, Guard, Sixers

The last three guys on our list might garner some pushback from Philly fans, but objectively speaking, they are the three most valuable pieces in the city right now. Maxey is just 22. He's a gifted scorer and is continuing to get better defensively. There's a realistic universe where he's the Sixers' No. 2 option next to Joel Embiid going forward and he has the talent to handle that role.

On the trade front, he's extremely valuable. He is still on his rookie deal. There are 307 NBA players who make more per season than Maxey does. A monster extension will be coming, but not this year, as the Sixers intend to open up some cap space as James Harden and Tobias Harris both become free agents next season. He will likely get a close to max contract and is probably worthy of it. The Sixers will be asked to include Maxey in every trade they consider this offseason and the team will rightly resist. Would you want to part with Maxey to bring in someone like Damian Lillard? It's a really tough thing to consider, but there are few players in the NBA with more value to their current team than Maxey has in Philly — which is why we have him third.

2. Joel Embiid, Center, Sixers

Could Embiid realistically demand a trade sometime in the near future? The current climate of the NBA suggests it's possible. And while 'The Process' himself has never shown anything but love for the team that drafted him, the team can only try so many times before it becomes clear he cannot possibly win here.

However, the is the reigning MVP. He is getting a supermax contract that would be pretty difficult to move. And he is the building block for any kind of team the Sixers want to build. Short of Embiid pulling a Ben Simmons, he's going to be with the Sixers next season and he is under contract for big bucks until 2027. At least for now, Embiid is not going anywhere.

1. Jalen Hurts, Quarterback, Eagles

There are a lot of reasons why Hurts is our most untradable Philly athlete right now. For one, his five-year, $255 million contract is a beast. Trading Carson Wentz and his big contract a few years ago was hard enough. But more than that, he's probably worth the investment.

QB salaries will continue to skyrocket, and Hurts was only the highest paid player in the NFL for a few days before he was surpassed by Lamar Jackson. It's possible in a few years after Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and other guys ink new deals that Hurts looks like he's a bargain. But it's more than just dollars and cents. Hurts is not tradable because the Eagles have the perfect quarterback for their team. He is the MVP runner up. He took the team to a Super Bowl and is an incredible locker room leader. 

How many current NFL quarterbacks would you swap with Hurts, straight up? Patrick Mahomes and who else? Is he worse than Josh Allen, Burrow or Herbert? A healthy Jalen Hurts is one of the most important athletes in the entire world and the Eagles have him until 2029. There is no chance he gets traded anytime soon.

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

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