Motivated Phillies could wait to make moves
Club has option of looking at offseason for trades instead of Deadline
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have plenty of inventory, but will anybody actually buy it?
As Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, perhaps no team has more players available than the Phillies, who are motivated to sell. But so far no contending team has struck a deal with them.
There is no shortage of choices. Need a closer? Jonathan Papelbon would love to join you. Need starting pitching help? Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett are veterans with postseason experience. Cole Hamels is the best of the bunch, but be prepared to pay an otherworldly price to get the Phillies to even think about it.
Need a right-handed power hitter? Marlon Byrd could help. Need a second baseman or shortstop? The Phillies have Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. But they have 10-and-5 rights and seem perfectly content in Philadelphia, so it might be wasted time. Need a DH? The Phillies might be willing to pay the majority of the $60 million Ryan Howard is owed following this season. Need a left-handed reliever? Antonio Bastardo could be yours.
There are others, too. But the Phillies have not traded anybody, partially because of the contract requirements of many of the players they wish to trade. And that could mean nobody is moved before the Deadline.
Think like an opposing general manager for a moment. He might be interested in a Phillies player, but the willingness to give up a top prospect or two is ruined when they see somebody like Lee is owed more than $45 million through next season or Papelbon is owed more than $17 million through next season, plus a $13 million club option for 2016 that automatically vests based on games finished.
But those unmovable contracts could buy the Phillies more time. Because teams don't like those contracts, the Phillies should be able to get most of them through waivers next month, which means they can continue to try to trade them before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline.
And because those players are signed through at least next season, they still have the option of trading these players in the offseason.
The Phillies absolutely want to trade some of these players to retool for the future. But they're not in a salary-dump mode. If it doesn't happen this week, they will try again in the future.