A Rundown of the Phillies’ Activity at the Trade Deadline
No trades for #Phillies.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2014
The Phillies will go into August with the same roster they had a week ago, having made exactly zero moves at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. If they intend to move any of their players, they’ll have to put them on revocable waivers. It’s not nearly as easy a process as making a trade in July, because if a team claims a player on revocable waivers, the two teams can only negotiate a trade with each other or the player’s team can pull him back with no penalty. If no deal is reached, the player is taken off of waivers. A team can place a player back on waivers a second time, but the player would then immediately become the property of the claiming team. MLB Trade Rumors has a more thorough explanation of the process if you’re unfamiliar and want to learn more.
GM Ruben Amaro will likely place every tradable asset on waivers in August. Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett are the most likely to be claimed; Ryan Howard will likely pass through waivers unclaimed, as the Phillies would be able to otherwise dump his remaining salary on the claiming team. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee will also very likely be placed on waivers, as it’s standard operating procedure. The Phillies could work out a trade for Lee through waivers, but a deal for Hamels has almost no chance of happening.
More likely, the Phillies will end up having to make their moves in the off-season. Byrd will enter the second year of his two-year deal and earn $8 million in 2015, leaving only an $8 million club option for 2016 (which can become guaranteed by reaching a plate appearance threshold). Burnett will likely choose to have his player option picked up, which could reach $12.75 million if he starts 32 games total this season. Jonathan Papelbon will enter the final year of his four-year deal, earning $13 million, but his 2016 option is likely to vest at an additional $13 million. Lee will enter the final year of his five-year contract, earning $25 million, but his 2016 option for $27.5 million could become guaranteed depending on how he fares next season. The Phillies can choose to pick up the $6 million club option for 2015 for reliever Mike Adams. They may choose to do so in an attempt to rebuild his value and keep another veteran arm in the bullpen.
Kyle Kendrick will become a free agent, as will Roberto Hernandez, Grady Sizemore, and Wil Nieves, so the Phillies will have gotten nothing for them if an August deal can’t be reached. John Mayberry, Jr. will enter his second year of arbitration eligibility; Ben Revere his second, and Antonio Bastardo his third. All three would continue to be potential trade chips, though less so in 2015 than in ’14 because they will be more expensive.
This is where the Phillies stand. Amaro missed, by far, the easiest way to turn otherwise useless players into potential future value. He’ll now have to do so exclusively through waivers in August. Once the season is over, Amaro will have to hope Byrd, Burnett, Papelbon, and Lee can enjoy similar levels of success in 2015 so that he might be able to recoup value on them before their contracts — and in Lee’s case, career — expire.
To see what the Phillies could have done, just take a look at the activity with the Boston Red Sox leading up to today’s deadline:
- Traded SP Jon Lester, OF Jonny Gomes, and cash considerations to the Oakland Athletics for OF Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance pick
- Traded SP John Lackey, minor league SP Corey Littrell, and cash considerations to the St. Louis Cardinals for SP Joe Kelly and OF Allen Craig
- Traded RP Andrew Miller to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league SP Eduardo Rodriguez
- Traded SS Stephen Drew to the New York Yankees for UT Kelly Johnson
- Traded P Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later or cash considerations
- Traded SP Jake Peavy to the San Francisco Giants for minor league RP Heath Hembree and SP Edwin Escobar
It was much easier for the Red Sox because they didn’t attach superfluous options to their players’ contracts upon signing, but that is how you approach a trade deadline as a veteran-laden team out of contention. The Phillies had opportunities to do exactly that — and as a result, infuse the minor league system with sorely-needed talent — but have failed two years in a row.
That being said, perhaps the deals just weren’t there. Making moves just to make moves is poor form, and according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, there was simply a disparity in the perception of value between the Phillies and their potential suitors. Better to hang on to Byrd and see what can happen in August, during the off-season, or leading up to the July 31 deadline next season than to give him up for a mediocre minor leaguer who won’t make a difference.