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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8 comments

  1. Bob

    June 23, 2014 10:36 AM

    They should look to trade Ruiz too. He’s got a .380 OBP, which ranks 18th in all of baseball. He’s buried in the 6-7 hole most games getting on base for Brown and whichever 3B is healthy enough to be in the lineup and the pitchers spot.

  2. Tim

    June 23, 2014 10:53 AM

    I’d like to see them hold on to Utley and Hamels (and maybe Lee), though I’m fine with everyone else being on the block. Yes, those guys could result in valuable prospects that could speed up the team’s timetable for a chance at postseason success. But I for one will still be attending games regularly over the next few years, and I like watching those guys, so I’d like to see them stay, even if it puts off contention just a little bit longer.

  3. bubba0101

    June 23, 2014 11:42 AM

    You would think Mayberry has seen more lefties because its the reasonable thing to do but he hasnt. He’s actually seen more action against righties. I dont get that either. Why isnt he playing first when a tough lefty is pitching and give howard a rest. Or let him play for Dom against anybody because Dom stinks right now. Seems like Charlie is still calling the shots there.

    • crow

      June 23, 2014 11:59 AM

      You’re not far wrong. Mayberry has been benefiting from the “he’s our best pinch hitter” effect, the “We need to look at alternatives to Ben Revere in Center” effect, and the “No power from the left side coming off the bench” effect. I think Charlie probably recognized as much as Ryno does how Mayberry is best used, but every year a combination of injuries, lack of good alternatives, and the seductive “effects” gets Mayberry more at bats against RHP than he has any business getting. His numbers are as atrocious as ever against RHP.

  4. joppie

    June 23, 2014 02:36 PM

    I’d like a spot to open up for Cesar to start playing everyday. Dude can hit. Not sure how well he plays short. I know hes played a few games there this year though.

    • MattWinks

      June 24, 2014 02:10 PM

      He plays short and third base poorly (lack of arm). He really is only a second baseman.

      So far in his career he has hit .276/.330/.327, with a .362 BABIP and 22.7% K% (27.1% in 2014). If he was a regular second baseman that would be second worse behind only Danny Espinosa. And is isolated power (.050) would be .015 behind the next lowest (DJ LeMahieu).

      Those aren’t exactly clear a spot for him numbers.

  5. Jerome

    June 23, 2014 02:37 PM

    “If the Phillies are realistic, it will be at least two more years until they can realistically be contenders.”

    This is one of the most optimistic Phillies-related comments I’ve read for a while! :)

    When I talk to people, I reference a 5-year possible turnaround. Not because I think they will be good in 5 years, but I think it theoretically should be possible given that time frame and the amount of $$$ the Phillies have available.

  6. Jonathan

    June 23, 2014 08:53 PM

    I didn’t read Cafardo’s article as “Hamels is available”, he merely states that he will draw interest. Is there a comment later on specifically stating they’ll shop him?

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