As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Philadelphia Phillies: 51-39, 1st in the NL East
As the youngest team in baseball, the Phillies have shocked everyone around the league. They are leading the NL East by one game over another young squad in the Braves, and they at least 10 games over .500 for the first time since 2011. Their surprising success has put them in a position to compete for a playoff berth, something they have not earned since that 2011 season.
To punch their ticket to the postseason, the Phillies know they have to be buyers over the next couple of weeks and have to make or move or two a that will help them fend off the Braves and Nationals for the division crown or wild card.
What moves have they made so far?
Philadelphia’s biggest moves came during the offseason, as they signed Jake Arrieta, Carlos Santana, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.
Arrieta, who signed a three-year, $75 million deal, has teamed up with rising star and All-Star ace Aaron Nola to give the Phillies a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. More importantly, he has made an impact on the staff as a whole by able to share what he learned from Jon Lester while pitching with the Cubs and passing it on to Nola and young starters Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez, according to Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Santana, who signed a three-year, $60 million deal, has provided the Phillies with steady production in the lineup (14 home runs, 51 RBI in 90 games). If it wasn’t for his month of May, when he posted a .966 OPS and had 22 RBI, Philadelphia would not be in the position where they are right now.
Hunter has not had near the season he posted last year with the Rays, while Neshek has missed most of the season so far due to two arm injuries. However, Hunter has had a good July so far and Neshek has pitched three times since coming back on July 1.
Who could they acquire?
The Phillies have been among the main players among the many clubs to be targeting Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado. The Phillies have had interest in Machado since last December. A big reason for that is because some of their executives, led by president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and vice president and general manager Matt Klentak, used to work for the Orioles.
While the news and offers for Machado are growing by the day, the Phillies are one of the few contenders who actually need a shortstop. They also have the prospects that could land the four-time All-Star. Heck, they even got a compliment from Machado when he had expressed his feelings on the Phillies during the Orioles’ two-game sweep of them.
But, the main issue is that Machado plans on hitting the free agent market this winter, and is expecting one of the biggest paydays in the history of the game. So, for a young team like Philadelphia, giving up more young talent for only three to four months of Machado doesn’t truly make sense, unless they work out an extension before the season ends — something that probably will not be discussed.
If they decide to not go after Machado and wait until the offseason to , the Phillies will look for other possible fits for their infield. Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that they are “targeting other infielders as backup plans.” Among them could be third basemen Adrian Beltre and Mike Moustakas, second baseman Scooter Gennett, shortstop Jose Iglesias and utility infielder Yangervis Solarte because they are all on rebuilding teams and may be able to get one of them without having to give up a ton of talent. Among this group, the Phillies have had reported interest in Beltre, a future Hall of Famer who they believe could be influential to their young core of players because of his “professionalism” and “production”, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com.
The Phillies may also look into adding a reliever to boost their pen. One way of doing that would be to go after another Oriole in Zach Britton. After all, the Phillies have spoken to Baltimore officials about acquiring the All-Star closer, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Despite one bad outing on June 22 in which he allowed four earned runs in 1⁄3 of an inning, Britton has been lights out for the most part since being activated from the DL in June after having Achilles surgery in December. Though they still would be giving up prospects for Britton, a free agent this offseason, the Phillies might be able to get him cheaper than they would for Machado.
Another way of doing that would be to deal third basemen Maikel Franco, who has drawn interest from the Padres, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal says the Phillies could target one of San Diego’s top relievers — Brad Hand, Adam Cimber, Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen — if they deal Franco to them. But, if this move would only happen if they find someone to take over third base, a position in which they lack depth.
The Phillies will make a couple of moves by adding a top reliever to give them a stability in the bullpen and bringing aboard Beltre.
Even though Britton would be a good option, the Phillies will be able to find a way to land Hand, who can not be a great presence for them this year, but also possibly the next three years since he is under contract through 2020 and has a $10 million team option for 2021. Because of this deal, the Phillies have to Beltre as their rental for third base because they will be trading Franco to the Padres.
The dream of Machado to the City of Brotherly Love is not totally dead yet, as they will make a play for him in the offseason. Yes, it may cost them a lot more money to sign him, but it may be more beneficial to them to go this route rather than giving up their best prospects for only three to four months.