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July 11, 2017

MLB Trade Deadline rumors: Phillies continue to be linked to Stanton; Yankees, Red Sox eye Neshek, Joseph

Right-handed reliever Pat Neshek, the Phillies' lone representative at the 2017 MLB All-Star on Tuesday night, may receive an odd reward for the work he's put in so far this season. That's because he could be the first player GM Matt Klentak deals ahead of the July 31 trade deadline as his team prepares to enter the second half of the season with the worst record in all of baseball (29-58).

In 35.1 innings this season, Neshek has posted a 1.27 ERA while striking out 36 and walking just five.

Because of that's he been drawing interest from a number of teams, including both the Red Sox and the Yankees, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.

And while Neshek, 36, is the favorite among the pitching staff to be dealt this month, there's a Phillies position player who has suddenly found himself in the middle of rumors involving the aforementioned AL East rivals. That's first baseman Tommy Joseph. Here's more from Cafardo:

The Phillies are interesting [potential trade partners for the Red Sox] in that they have a top-notch farm system, money to spend, and players to trade. That trifecta is rare. First baseman Tommy Joseph is likely available because prospect Rhys Hoskins will take over the position next season, if not this year. Third baseman Maikel Franco, starter Jeremy Hellickson, and reliever Joaquin Benoit will be available. They also have an eye on setting up for the future, which is why acquiring Stanton and Yelich from Miami isn’t out of the question.  []

Wait ... did he say Stanton? As in, Giancarlo Stanton?

That's right. It's a name deserving of a slight detour, so let's take a look real quick before getting back to the guys mentioned above.

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It's not the first time Cafardo has mention the Marlins slugger and Phillies in the same sentence. He also wrote about the two potentially being a match last month:

The Phillies make sense. General manager Matt Klentak has tried to give his young players room to develop. Some are developing on time, while others have struggled. At some point the fan base will get impatient because it’s a big market where there were glory days not long ago. The Phillies won one championship in Ruben Amaro Jr.’s tenure as assistant GM, but at the time they were an entertaining team with stars such as Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, and Shane Victorino to keep fans interested.

The Phillies have two things going in their favor now: money and prospects. So there’s a way to get better fast. They could adopt the Red Sox’ model of having a core of good young players while surrounding them with free agents, or veterans via trade.  []

Cafardo also mentions that if the Phillies, who are trying to move on to the next step of their rebuild, fail to land Stanton, they'll be "major players" in free agency next winter, when guys like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hit the market.

Furthermore, he mentions the possibility of the Phillies also acquiring Christian Yelich in that deal in an effort to replenish their outfield.

Complicating this is the fact that Stanton has a full no-trade clause. And that, coupled with the ending sale of the organization and uncertainty surrounding its future, the 27-year-old outfielder could be willing to waive that clause, especially if the Marlins decide to enter a rebuild of their own.

But if Stanton decides he wants to stay – or a deal can't be worked out with Miami – the Phillies could try to strike lesser deals with the other teams reportedly interested in what they have to offer.

* * *

Theoretically, both Neshek and Joseph would fit on either the Yankees or Red Sox. But Klentak could try to enhance his return by sending both players to the same team. Joe Giglio of (and SportsRadio 94 WIP) has a nice breakdown of how a deal like this could play out between the Phillies and Yanks, from what could be included to why both teams would be amenable to such a trade:

Neshek, while good, isn’t the type of hard-throwing, strikeout artist that could get a team to surrender a top prospect. Joseph, while powerful, does little else to help a team win.

Individually, neither will likely bring the Phillies back a prospect of consequence. Packaging them together could make for a different offer.  []

Still, that offer might not be overwhelming, as the Yankees currently sit 3.5 games out in the AL East and likely don't want to give up top-flight prospects for a 36-year-old rental reliever in Neshek and – let's not kid ourselves here – a dime-a-dozen power bat in Joseph.

Here's what Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently had to say about his plans for the deadline:

"We have a long-term plan that I think people are seeing the excitement from, and we're definitely not going to deviate from that," said Cashman. "…Part of that long-term plan is in the short term — winning now and putting out the best effort possible, but not at the expense of what we feel can lead us to more championships, plural. … If we can find that balancing act and retain the players we desperately need to retain … I think that's the walk we're trying to walk."

In other words, the Yankees are unlikely to dismantle their well-above-average farm system for a short-term rental. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't consider making a few trades if they could upgrade the team now without costing them in the long run. Sounds about right -- and sounds about like what every other contender's general manager would say.  []

So while it appears Cashman, like Klentak, is ready to deal, he's not willing to do so in a way that will greatly damage the Yankees' future. In other words, they're not likely to deal big-name prospects, at least not for the likes of Neshek and Joseph.

And if that's true, then maybe it would make more sense to trade each individually, rather than packaging them together in the hope that the return is markedly better. In other words, if the Yanks don't want to part ways with their top farmhands, they may be able to work something lesser out for one of the two Phillies players in which they're interested.

Who might those prospects be? Let's go check back in with Joe Giglio, who offered up a trio of possibilities, including one that could potentially allow Klentak to deal another one of his young corner infielders:

Miguel Andujar, 3B: Would the Yankees surrender a top-10 prospect in their system in a two-for-one deal? Andujar, who had a spectacular big league debut in Chicago earlier this season, could be attractive to the Phillies as an alternative to Maikel Franco. The 22-year-old owns an .816 OPS across stops in Double-A and Triple-A this season.  []

Stay tuned. There are only 20 days left until the deadline and there are plenty of other Phillies who are candidates to be traded, including starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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