A Rundown of the Phillies’ Activity at the Trade Deadline

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:

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.


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  1. jonestown

    July 31, 2014 04:09 PM

    This is the second time you have mentioned the Phillies trading Sizemore and I got to ask you what in the world would they get for him? He is a guy who has been dropped already by a team after a hot spring and is just having a hot two weeks. No team in the right mind would offer anything for him.

  2. bubba0101

    July 31, 2014 04:12 PM

    I feel like breaking things. But then again its baseball, so who cares. Ill tune back in in October to watch some good games. We wont be competetive again until someone not named Ruben Amaro Jr, blows this team up Sam Hinkie style. Sam woulda done what Boston did and we’d be looking at a completely different team with about 4 more prospects in our top 20.

  3. JAX Phils Phan

    July 31, 2014 04:16 PM

    “there was simply a disparity in the perception of value between the Phillies and their potential suitors” – ya imagine that. RAJ and management’s perception of value and how to run a team is a freaking joke. I’d be happy to see RAJ fired, but unless Montgomery quits or is fired along side him, nothing good will come out of RAJ being let go because Montgomery still thinks that continuing to put the same product on the field will fill the seats. What a bunch of idiots!

  4. Bob

    July 31, 2014 04:22 PM

    As a fan, I want to believe that RAJ stuck to his guns in the face of low ball offers and did the right thing. But this is the second year in a row where we are out of contention and nothing has been done to improve the team.

  5. Brian

    July 31, 2014 04:23 PM

    Nothing better than being bad and stagnant.

  6. batterseye

    July 31, 2014 04:30 PM

    congrats.. to monty rube and the entire front office – for a job well done…



  7. Tom

    July 31, 2014 04:55 PM

    Why the negativity? They’re only 12.5 out of the division and 11 out of the wild card. They’ll get hot, with 14 in a row while all 8 – 10 teams in front of them lose 14 and we’re in business.

    • Brian

      July 31, 2014 05:26 PM

      Maybe even pick up a bat or mid rotation guy before September. I hear Byrd’s still available.

  8. Brian

    July 31, 2014 05:24 PM

    I know I wasn’t the only one who clicked on the “Continue Reading…” link fully expecting the post to be blank.

    • Tom

      July 31, 2014 06:01 PM


  9. eddie

    July 31, 2014 05:45 PM

    “there was simply a disparity in the perception of value between the Phillies and their potential suitors”

    When the disparity is between you and EVERYONE ELSE, you are the problem.

    • Bill Baer

      July 31, 2014 05:56 PM

      That’s not necessarily true. There are plenty of reasons to rip on Amaro, but if it is actually true that other GM’s were overvaluing their prospects, then Amaro was correct not to take a lowball offer.

      There are two sides here: the seller (Phillies) and the buyers (roughly 15 or so contending teams, portions of which had interest in various Phillies players). The buyers all obviously have an incentive to drive Amaro’s price down as low as possible, either independently or cohesively. And Amaro has an incentive to maximize any return he can get. If Amaro’s floor, in terms of an acceptable return, doesn’t meet the buyers’ ceiling in terms of price paid, then nothing will happen. Perhaps that’s why the Phillies didn’t do anything.

      I’m not saying that did happen, but it’s a possibility.

      • James K.

        July 31, 2014 06:02 PM

        Bill, your logical is sound, but considering how many other “sellers” were able to make trades at the deadline, I get the feeling it’s the Phillies who are the problem.

        If it had been a quiet trade season, sure, but it’s clear that plenty of other teams aren’t having any trouble trading away MLB players for a return they’re satisfied with. The market as a whole clearly isn’t broken.

      • tom b

        July 31, 2014 06:38 PM

        personally i think amaro over values his players. he seemed to be one of the few people who thought this team,as constructed was still a contender. obviously he was wrong. but i will say after seeing the seemingly small returns in most of these trades,i think the market was kinda poor. however when you pretty much said if these guys don’t start winning we will replace them and then get nothing done,you kinda set yourself up to look bad. and he didn’t need any more help to do that

      • eddie

        August 01, 2014 07:50 AM

        Sorry, Bill, but Econ 101 is that things are worth what people are willing to pay for them. The fact that that’s less than you think they should pay in a fairer world is meaningless. The only question is whether the price people are willing to pay is less than the value of keeping the item.

        If Amaro is saying (frex) that Papelbon is worth a top-50 prospect, and not one of the 31 teams agrees, then by definition, Papelbon is not worth a top-50 prospect.

        The only possible arguments are that 1) The Phillies will contend this year or next or 2) that those guys will be more valuable in the offseason than they are now. #2 is very unlikely IMO, #1 even less so. Sadly, I think #1 is the one Amaro buys.

  10. John Kwiatkowski

    July 31, 2014 06:32 PM

    I would love to see cespades in Lf. Why insist on risky minor leagers when you can get an established player. I would have given the a’s brown, lee and bastardo for cespades. Where are the power hitting outfielders going to come from? .

    • ASK

      July 31, 2014 09:26 PM

      Billy Beane would have laughed at your offer. Instead, he got Jon Lester, who is better than Lee and is not owed $45.8M through the end of the season, for Cespedes.

    • eddie

      August 01, 2014 07:54 AM

      Brown, Lee, Bastardo and what else? I’m assuming you just forgot to type “and Utley and Ruiz.”

      And Beane would have said no to that five-for-one.

  11. Danielson

    July 31, 2014 07:37 PM

    Maybe Amaro knows he screwed things up by giving out excessive vesting options, too-long contracts, and signing older players with rapidly decreasing values, and he just isn’t in the mood to force trades and take a bunch of junk in return (and eat millions of dollars in the process). Whatever else can be said about the man (which is quite a bit), Amaro seems like a prideful guy–he’s not ready to accept tearing down what he’s built (however crappy) for a few double-A prospects, while paying part of “his” guys’ salaries to help other teams win the World Series. Maybe it’s just Amaro’s way of saying, “go screw thyself” to all the GMs of contending teams. Since the team Amaro built has become irrelevant (the worst possible fate), this is the only possible way he can exercise what now passes for influence in his rapidly collapsing world, the world he created through his reckless, prideful acts. It’s a far cry from the high-rollin’ times when he bet the farm (or most of it) on Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Hunter Pence in the span of a few years, but this is what’s left. And the problem with betting the farm is that you better win it all, or you’re the ultimate loser, never to be forgotten as such, the butt of jokes and derision for years.

    So no wonder tiny Ruben hangs on to his pieces, his precious team, what’s left of the parts he collected. That’s all he has left.

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