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July 27, 2023

MLB trade rumors: Phillies scouting Eduardo Rodríguez, should target Cody Bellinger

The trade deadline is less than a week away.

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Cody-Bellinger-Phillies-Cubs_071023_USAT Michael McLoone/USA Today Sports

Will the Phillies make a big swing and go after a former MVP-winning outfielder?

The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching and we're right in the butter zone for trades to be consummated. 

The Angels made a monster deal to acquire top of the line starter Lucas Giolito, taking Shohei Ohtani off the market. Other deals are being made left and right, and the Phillies are hard at work figuring out their next move. 

According to insider Mark Feinsand, the Phillies are among five teams scouting Tigers lefty starter Eduardo Rodriguez, who is in the midst of a solid campaign right now, boasting a 2.95 ERA and 6-5 record for lowly Detroit. 

Some more from Feinsand:

Rodriguez was having a stellar first half, posting a 2.13 ERA in 11 starts when a left index finger injury landed him on the injured list for five weeks from late-May to early-July. Since his return, Rodriguez has pitched four times, producing two good starts and two subpar outings, though his 3.23 FIP in July suggests he's pitched better than his 5.66 ERA this month suggests.

"He's not the best starter available, but he's been pretty good this year," a National League executive said. "He would help a lot of rotations out there."

The biggest question surrounding Rodriguez is whether he plans to opt out of the final three years and $49 million of his contract at the end of the season. The opt-out clause could complicate trade scenarios for some clubs, because while most expect Rodriguez to exercise the clause to become a free agent, any acquiring team would be taking on his contract without knowing that for certain. []

The Phillies have not had major issues with their starting rotation of late, with Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Taijuan Walker and Ranger Suarez all appearing to be a very solid playoff-worthy starting four. Cristopher Sanchez has taken the fifth starter's spot and has been pretty good over the last month or so, but Rodriguez or any veteran start with a track record would be an upgrade. The Phillies have almost nothing by way of starting pitching depth outside of their current five arms, and the rotation fell apart in their World Series run. It's something to be mindful of.

An MVP addition?

One more rumor to report on, and this one comes from The Athletic's Jim Bowden, who is trying to incept six trades he'd like to see into existence. 

The veteran baseball writer really likes the idea of the Phillies trading for Cody Bellinger, a former MVP winner who is tearing things up in Chicago. He might be the skeleton key for the Phillies shape-shifting lineup.

Cubs trade CF Cody Bellinger to Phillies for OF Gabriel Rincones Jr. and OF Carlos De La Cruz

The Cubs are hot, so perhaps they buy, but let’s still consider a selling option. Bellinger is the front-runner for NL Comeback Player of the Year. He’s having a resurgence this season on the North Side of Chicago, slashing .314/.360/.545 with 15 home runs, 12 stolen bases and a 141 OPS+. He plays above-average defense at several positions and would fit nicely on the Phillies as he could share first base, left field and DH with Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber. He would be the final position piece needed for the Phillies to get back to the playoffs.

Yes, the Cubs are only 6 games back in the division and 4 1/2 back in the wild-card race, but Bellinger is going to be an expensive free agent, and in the long term, one could argue Chicago is better off trading him now and then trying to re-sign him in the offseason. (If they don’t trade Bellinger, they could make him a qualifying offer after the season and receive draft-pick compensation should he sign elsewhere in free agency.) In this trade proposal, the Cubs would strengthen their farm system by adding two legitimate outfield prospects. A third-round pick in the 2022 draft, Rincones has a .357 on-base percentage this season between Low A and High A. De La Cruz has hit 18 homers and posted an .855 OPS at Double A. Earlier this season, the 23-year-old put together a 38-game on-base streak. [The Athletic]

That excerpt really says it all. The Phillies would essentially be trading two prospects who are positionally blocked for someone who can fill all of their holes in the lineup. 

The trade deadline will arrive on August 1. The Phils are in the heart of the hunt for a Wildcard spot and there is no doubt they'll do something to make a splash. Rodriguez and Bellinger are each home run additions. Dave Dombrowski is surely kicking the tires on both.

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