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Deals give Phils international signing flexibility

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies faced a challenge leading into Monday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.

They knew they needed to trade Pat Neshek, Jeremy Hellickson and Howie Kendrick, but they also knew that teams rarely surrender top prospects for two-month rentals. To get value in return for Hellickson and Kendrick, the Phillies needed to pay down their contracts. They did just that Friday night in trades with the Orioles and Nationals.

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies faced a challenge leading into Monday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.

They knew they needed to trade Pat Neshek, Jeremy Hellickson and Howie Kendrick, but they also knew that teams rarely surrender top prospects for two-month rentals. To get value in return for Hellickson and Kendrick, the Phillies needed to pay down their contracts. They did just that Friday night in trades with the Orioles and Nationals.

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It allowed them not only to acquire a couple prospects, but also international amateur signing bonus space.

The latter is just as significant as the former. The Phillies have acquired more than $1 million in international amateur signing bonus cash over the past few weeks. The extra resources could pay dividends in the Phillies' rebuild.

"I believe that [international scouting director] Sal Agostinelli and his group do an incredible job," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Saturday. "So whether it's the Trade Deadline or any other period, I'm always looking to provide opportunities for Sal. [The signing bonus space] is something that has value, and it's something we'll try to acquire whenever we can."

The Phillies had $4.75 million to spend in the current signing period, which began July 2. They already spent most of it, but now Agostinelli and his staff have the next 11 months to spend an additional $1 million-plus.

Could the Phillies sign one big prospect for $1 million? Sure, but they also could break up the pie into multiple pieces.

The Phillies are buying lottery tickets here. They have had success in the past. They hit with Carlos Ruiz ($8,000), Cesar Hernandez ($49,000) and Freddy Galvis ($90,000). Class A Lakewood right-hander Sixto Sanchez is the No. 52 prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com. The Phillies signed him for $35,000.

"Adding money to our pool allows Sal and his group to really play the market for the next 11 months," Klentak said.

Klentak credited Phillies ownership for agreeing to send cash to the Orioles and Nationals to facilitate the deals.

"Our ownership understands the importance of infusing talent into the system," Klentak said. "They backed it up with those trades. They were willing to pay down salaries of Kendrick and Hellickson in exchange for a better return in talent, and in exchange for the ability to spend more money internationally. At a stage in the rebuild where the payroll is going to be lower than it's been than other times in this franchise's history, our ownership understands the importance of reinvesting money in future talent."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

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