June 16, 2019
It's as good a time as ever to talk about anything besides the Phillies performance on the field of late. After dropping two of three to the Braves (including Sunday's 15-1 embarrassment), Philly is probably at its lowest point since having one of the most successful offseasons in recent memory.
The team has been decimated by injuries and they've shown glaring weaknesses on both sides of the ball. It might be time for Matt Klentak to start working the phones.
It may still be June but teams — including the Phillies — have shown that the singular July 31 trade deadline means swaps could happen sooner this year. The Phillies are barely staying afloat in a Wild Card spot, and are in second in the NL East for the first time all season (trailing Atlanta by 2.5 games).
There are a bevy of weaknesses for the team: starting pitching, the bullpen, the outfield — heck, even backup catcher after J.T. Realmuto left Saturday's game with an injury (it is hoped he will return soon and not hit the injured list). For the Phillies to not only keep their postseason hopes alive but prove to be a true contender, they need some help.
We've already broken down some likely trade candidates for the Phillies from teams already falling out of things in their respective division races. We've also examined the farm system, noting that they have limited ammo to make big splashes on the trade marker. Now we'll take a look at the biggest swings the Phillies could take before the trade deadline.
The following are big-name superstar caliber trade candidates from teams that are not quite out of things but could be sellers by the deadline:
Cleveland is 11 games back in the AL Central but still alive for a Wild Card spot. If the recent pennant winners descend even further, you may start to hear a lot about the aforementioned starters. Kluber, first, was struck by a line drive and is nearing a return from the injured list. He's won two Cy Young awards but has had a pretty terrible season thus far, at 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA through five starts. His track record suggests he can turn it around, but, at 33, his durability and consistency may be too much of an issue for the Phillies — unless they can get him on the cheap. He can become a free agent next year but has two years of team options.
Bauer is the more attractive of the two big name hurlers. He's just 28 and has a year of arbitration left in 2020. He has a 3.71 ERA this year and has struck out 109 batters in 99.1 innings. Last season he was an All-Star sporting a 2.21 ERA and 12-6 record. Both are right handers — but the Phillies won't show any less interest in the two aces because of it.
According to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, the Tigers are "positioned to be one of the most intriguing sellers in baseball ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, and sources said this week the team is open to moving virtually any veteran on its roster."
This should interest the Phillies, since there are two stud hurlers — one a starter and one a reliever — likely to be on the market.
Boyd is a lefty, has a 3.35 ERA and 112 K's through just 88.2 innings. He's exactly what the Phillies need to shore up their rotation, and he's just 28 years old. Greene is one of the most effective closers in baseball with just three earned runs allowed all season. They may be expensive upgrades though. Here's more from Morosi:
The Phillies, who are searching for both rotation and bullpen upgrades, are a potential suitor for both Boyd and Greene, who is tied for the AL lead with  saves. Greene is slated for one more season of salary arbitration eligibility in 2020 before becoming a free agent, which makes him more valuable than relievers on expiring contracts. [MLB.com]
A pipe dream? Perhaps. The Mets aren't really that good and with the big ace under team control through 2021, he'd be worth a pretty penny. But he also is an innings eater and is coming off of a 13-4 season in 2018 during which time he had a 3.03 ERA. His career ERA is 3.13, but he's not been his usual self in 2019, with just a 4.55 mark and 5-4 record. There's also a good chance New York wouldn't want to trade within the division. Still, he will be a popular name as July 31 approaches.
From one NL East team expected to contend to another, the Nats are underachieving this season and Rendon might be their biggest trade chip should they blow it up this summer. He's 29 and will be a free agent at the end of the year, and if Washington has no plans to bring him back, they might as well shop him as a potential rental. Philly could use the upgrade at third base — Rendon is hitting .315 with 15 homers and 48 RBI and would certainly boost the lineup even more. He will be one of the more interesting names to watch over the next month and a half.
The D-backs are unfortunate to be stuck in the same division as the Dodgers, and have an uphill climb to make the playoffs as a Wild Card squad. And so, their Cy Young award winning pitcher Greinke — who is once again pitching well enough to bring home some hardware at age 35 (8-2, 2.65 ERA) — may be their most valuable piece as they continue to overhaul their franchise. Greinke is signed through 2021, which could give teams pause as he edges toward age 40, but he's pitching like an ace and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Ray was rumored to the Phillies throughout the offseason and as a left-hander could be a nice, less-expensive fit in the rotation. He's 5-4 with a 3.83 ERA this season, just 27 and arbitration eligible in 2020.
We've discussed Bumgarner at length before in posts, as he is the best trade chip for the lowly Giants. He has the Phillies on his limited no trade list but could lift them, as he certainly is a pitcher who likes to pitch in the playoffs. He's having a down year but could use a change of scenery. He'll be a free agent next year so may be a cheaper get, as he is simply a rental.
The Royals are in last place and have no real need to hang on to three-time All Star and six-time gold glove outfielder Alex Gordon. He has a mutual option for 2020, but could become a free agent this fall. He's hitting .266 with 10 homers and 39 RBI and hits from the left side — still quite productive despite being 35. The Phils made a similar move recently to acquire Jay Bruce, but with Andrew McCutchen out for the year another outfielder would certainly help.
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