Phils may have difficult time pulling off impact deals
Veteran players may not return bounty of young talent to Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA -- A few Phillies offered only a look Sunday afternoon in the visitors' clubhouse at Comerica Park.
Their eyes widened momentarily, like, "Can you believe what just happened?"
If a Phillies fan travelled to a deserted island without telephone or Internet early July 20 and returned Sunday evening, they would be startled to see the National League East standings. The Phils have lost eight consecutive games to drop seven games under .500 with Wednesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline fast approaching.
"I hope we can play better than this," manager Charlie Manuel said following an ugly 12-4 loss to the Tigers on Sunday. "We better play better than this, I can tell you that. What was it, a month ago when I told you we were going to give everyone a chance to play and see what they got? That's what's happening, isn't it? I don't think I lied or cheated anybody."
But who will be in Manuel's lineup come Wednesday night's game against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park?
Numerous Phillies have been mentioned in trade rumors, including Michael Young, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz. Jimmy Rollins has received minimal interest. Somebody like Delmon Young could be had, if a team needs a designated hitter or corner outfielder.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. had said for weeks he planned to buy before the Deadline. But that was before the Phils finished 1-8 on their road trip against the Mets, Cardinals and Tigers, completing one of the worst road trips in franchise history.
Young seems to be the most likely player traded, although what the Phillies could receive in return for a two-month rental is debatable.
The Orioles, Red Sox and Rangers have been linked to Young, but sources told MLB.com the Rangers and Young will not be reuniting.
"I haven't heard a thing," Young said. "I haven't had any conversations with the Phils up to this point. As far as I know, I'll be ready to roll 7:00 on Tuesday."
Young has a no-trade clause in his contract, so he would have to agree to a move. Asked if he would waive it, he said, "I don't know. The first thing I want to do is talk to the Phillies about that. Ruben has been very upfront with me since Day 1. The entire organization has. What I went through back in May [with a son's illness], they stood by me the entire time. I certainly appreciate it. Any conversation that has to do with trades will be with them first."
Utley and Lee would provide Philadelphia the most value in return, but Amaro said last week in St. Louis he expects Utley to be with the team following the Trade Deadline. The two sides have talked about a contract extension, and Amaro isn't seriously considering any offers for Utley at the moment.
Amaro is listening to offers for Lee, but if the Phillies plan to contend next season, they would like to keep Lee to provide a 1-2 punch atop the rotation with Cole Hamels. So the price for Lee is high. Remember, the Phils are not a small-market team that needs to shed salary. They can afford Lee.
The Phillies are willing to trade Papelbon, but his trade value has diminished as the Tigers and Red Sox have solved their closer problems. But one wonders what impact Papelbon's strong comments Sunday to MLB.com regarding the organization will have on the front office's thinking. If Amaro doesn't want an unhappy Papelbon in the clubhouse, perhaps he looks to get less in return so they can part ways.
Ruiz could be interesting, although his .581 OPS is easily the worst of his career. A team looking for catching help might like Ruiz because he is a veteran with postseason experience and a good reputation as a signal-caller. But as a two-month rental with just four extra-base hits this season, Philadelphia would not get much in return.
Rolllins said Sunday he would not wave his trade rights to go anywhere, so moving him is moot.
It seems the Phillies must sell to retool for next season, but looking at their options, Amaro clearly has his work cut out for him. Young is drawing a lot of interest, but can they really get a difference-maker for him? It seems unlikely Lee and Utley will be traded. The same holds true for Papelbon, unless the Phils are motivated to move him. Ruiz has hurt his trade value considerably.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.