A Quiet Deadline In Philadelphia

A few weeks ago, I set up a “Who will the Phillies trade before the deadline?” poll on the sidebar. If you were one of the 6% who said “no one”, congratulations. The deadline has come and gone and the Phillies roster remains as is. Jeremy Hellickson will (presumably) make his next start in red pinstripes. Jeanmar Gomez is (presumsably) still the Phillies closer. The surprisingly effect Carlos Ruiz / Cameron Rupp catching tandem remains intact. The 2016 Phillies are today what they were yesterday.

It’s hard to be upset about the lack of trade activity. The most talked about trade chip, Jeremy Hellickson, is a league average pitcher who will be a free agent at the end of the season, but he’s also coming off three consecutive seasons in which he was well below league average for the Rays and the Diamondbacks. His 3.70 ERA is middling as is and his track record is not one that instills confidence he’ll be able to sustain even that moderate success going forward.

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Phillies Trade Rumor Roundup

We’re officially one week out from the non-waiver trade deadline. All deals must be completed by 4pm EDT next Monday, August 1st. (They pushed the deadline back one day from the typical July 31st because the 31st is a Sunday.) I must admit, I’m finding the pace leading up to this deadline to be much more relaxing and enjoyable than the hectic, unsettled pace of the past few Julys in Philadelphia. The high profile pieces are all gone and all that’s left are a few middling trade candidates, none of whom will make or break the Phillies future. Let’s check in on where thing stand on the rumor mill.

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Phillies Trade Deadline Preview

We’re less than a month away from the August 1st trade deadline — July 31st falls on a Sunday this year, so the league pushed the deadline back one day — and things are bizarrely quiet for the Phillies. Since trading Bobby Abreu in July 2006, the Phillies have been central figures in high profile deals and rumors seemingly every single year. This year, however, the team is not looking to “buy” and all of their key chips to “sell” have already said their farewells to Philadelphia.

The chances of the Phillies being involved in any sort of blockbuster deal this month are infinitesimally small, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be active. Teams ought to always be open to any available avenue to improve and that means the Phillies will need to investigate whether there are opportunities to bring in talent to bolster the team’s rebuild.

Let’s take stock of what changes this month may bring about for the Phillies.

The Obvious Trade Candidates: Jeremy Hellickson, Peter Bourjos, Jeanmar Gomez

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Raising the White Flag

Last Thursday’s trade of Roberto Hernandez to the Dodgers is both troubling and encouraging. The deal sparked a series of events and renewed old questions that bear heavily on the future of the Phillies. Josh Beckett‘s going on the disabled list, possibly for the remainder of the season, certainly factored significantly in the specific timing of the trade, but that’s really only relevant from the Dodgers’ perspective. The trade’s immediate impact was that it forced the Phillies to call up emergency starter Sean O’Sullivan, a replacement player if there ever was one, to take Hernandez’s turn in the rotation. (Sorry, Sean.) From a broader viewpoint, Thursday’s interrelated events were an indelicate signal that the front office really has given up on this season.

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Deadline “Success” and Racing to Resolution

As of this post, the Phillies are no closer to making a trade of any substance than they were a week or two. They’re concrete in their stead, apparently, holding out for the moon and stars in return for Cole Hamels, all while having to weather the opposing forces rebuffing their attempts to dump the likes of Ryan Howard, A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd.

Pick an aspect of this deadline for the Phillies, any aspect, and you’re likely to find a different root cause and hindrance for every potential deal. The necessity of giving every player imaginable an option or three, the unluckiness of a four-team no-trade backfiring, the most valuable trade chips being the most unlikely to move, and on and on. In truth, there seems little assured about this deadline other than Antonio Bastardo‘s seemingly imminent departure. But is that enough?

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Fait Accompli

The fatalists among us figured this was the way it was always going to end. The Phillies’ signing of Jonathan Papelbon in the waning months of 2011 – and, as I’ll never forget to remind everyone, a single week before a rule change would have kept the club from forfeiting their draft pick to do so – was going to end in one of two ways: the club would either win a World Series with Pap on the roster, or he’d become dead weight.

Actual, on-field performance barely matters here. That Papelbon is pitching well only means that he appears palatable to other teams, worth the cost of a marginal prospect or two and a heavily discounted assumption of contract. The Phillies did not claim their second World Series title since the turn of the milennium, and so this is where we stand.

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A’s Trade a Blueprint for Phillies?

Billy Beane‘s somewhat shocking, all-in trade of Addison Russell, Dan Straily, and Billy McKinney to Chicago for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel last week signals the official start of trading season. Oakland has made a deal, similar to Milwaukee’s CC Sabathia trade in 2008, that includes an extra month to use its new players and build a lead for the stretch run. The deal also takes away valuable assets from other teams that are likely to make trades for starting pitching and other useful parts. The Phillies should exploit that competition as much as possible, as soon as possible, to both control the market (instead of waiting for it), and to give their trade partners more value.

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