Report: With Deadline on Horizon, Phillies Aggressive on Scouting Front

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies have been among the “most aggressive” in scouting other teams’ minor league systems as well as their parent teams. He adds that Cole Hamels is available. His full Phillies-centric blurb in the column:

While they’ve had a recent upswing, the Phillies pretty much know they have to regroup with younger players. Closer Jonathan Papelbon could draw interest, but likely only if the Phillies are willing to kick in some salary. Cliff Lee is hurt, but Hamels will draw interest. Everyone loves Chase Utley, but he has 10/5 rights, and shortstop Jimmy Rollins may be more willing to waive his no-trade clause. Outfielders Marlon Byrd, Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, and John Mayberry appear to be available.Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe

In other words, pretty much everyone is available. The Phillies just split a four-game series in St. Louis and are now tied for 4th/5th place in the NL East with the New York Mets, only five games behind the first-place Washington Nationals. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. could very easily convince himself to bolster the roster to make a run at the division title, or one of the two Wild Card slots.

The Phillies, however, very clearly can’t continue on their current path. One injury or one bad stretch can completely tank the value of their trade chips, so it would behoove them to make moves to improve the minor league system while they still can.

  • Papelbon has posted good results despite unpleasant peripherals and diminished velocity
  • Utley hasn’t suffered an injury, and this may be his first injury-free season since 2009
  • Rollins is having his best season since 2011-12 (depending on which metrics you use)
  • Byrd has shown that his 2013 output wasn’t a total fluke
  • Mayberry is having his best season sine 2011 thanks to seeing a higher percentage of left-handed pitchers

It’s unlikely Brown or Revere would bring much in return, but it’s not shocking to see the Phillies making them available.

Hamels’ availability is interesting. The Phillies signed him to a six-year, $144 million contract extension in July 2012. Beyond the 2014 season, Hamels will be owed $96 million through 2018 with a $20 million c;ub option (and $6 million buyout) for 2019, his age-35 season.

If the Phillies are realistic, it will be at least two more years until they can realistically be contenders. So, the Phillies wouldn’t truly need Hamels until at least 2017, when the lefty will be 33 years old. And who knows if he’ll be any good then? Hamels to date has been mostly durable and injury-free — his stint on the disabled list to start the season was only his fourth time on the DL since coming into the major leagues in 2006 — while ranking among baseball’s best left-handed starters over the last five years.

On the other hand, if the Phillies return to legitimate contender status sooner than expected, the Phillies will want Hamels in their ranks. If the Phillies trade him now, they have to one hundred percent commit to a rebuild. They would not be able to play the middle ground as they have over the last two and a half seasons.

Amaro doesn’t have to trade Hamels within the next five and a half weeks. If he’s knocked over by an offer — perhaps one that includes two or three top-100 prospects — then he might want to pull the trigger. But Hamels’ trade value isn’t eroding the way Lee’s is, so Amaro can afford to be patient and find the right offer, even if it’s during the off-season or at the deadline next season.

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