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Will NL East-leading Phils upgrade at Deadline?

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

CINCINNATI -- Rhys Hoskins is feeling the flow. He has hit six home runs in his past six games to help the first-place Phillies take a season-high 2 1/2-game lead over the Braves in the National League East.

"Start believin'," he tweeted Wednesday.

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CINCINNATI -- Rhys Hoskins is feeling the flow. He has hit six home runs in his past six games to help the first-place Phillies take a season-high 2 1/2-game lead over the Braves in the National League East.

"Start believin'," he tweeted Wednesday.

View Full Game Coverage

"Come join the party, we're really rockin. #thisteamisGOOD," Hoskins posted on Instagram on Thursday.

Video: PHI@CIN: Hoskins goes deep twice in Cincinnati

The Phillies are looking to make the team even better before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, but now that Manny Machado is in Los Angeles it is unclear what, if any, upgrades will be made. Sources have told MLB.com that the Phils continue to explore options in the outfield, bullpen and at shortstop. Third base no longer is a need because Maikel Franco has been crushing the baseball since late June. Philadelphia is not aggressively looking to upgrade the rotation.

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones remains a target. Jones, who has full no-trade rights, said Thursday that he is willing to move a corner outfield spot and even take a reduced role, if he joins a team with a legitimate chance to win. That is noteworthy because the Phillies are highly unlikely to send Nick Williams to the bench. After a terrible April, Williams has been on fire. In fact, his .800 OPS has surpassed Odubel Herrera's .791 mark.

A right-handed-hitting part-time outfielder makes sense for the Phillies, especially after they optioned struggling Aaron Altherr to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Sunday. The Phils have kicked the tires on Blue Jays outfielder Curtis Granderson, but he hits left-handed.

Triple-A outfielder Roman Quinn will join the team Friday in Cincinnati. The switch-hitter provides speed and defense, and he will give the team a more dynamic look off the bench. There is a chance the Phillies could simply stick with Quinn as their fourth outfielder.

But the most obvious need offensively remains shortstop. The team's .628 OPS at that position is 27th in the Majors. The Phils remain engaged with the Twins about Eduardo Escobar, but the asking price remains high. Texas has made shortstop Jurickson Profar available. He is under team control through 2020, however, likely making his asking price too high.

The Phillies could simply wait for shortstop J.P. Crawford to rejoin the team. He has been sidelined since June because of a broken left hand, but he could be back in early August. He could share time with Scott Kingery, potentially upgrading the offensive production there.

The Phils like Royals super-utility man Whit Merrifield, but Kansas City does not seem particularly motivated to move him. Infielder Pedro Florimon could rejoin the team sometime next month, which would upgrade a bench that lately has included Trevor Plouffe, Jesmuel Valentin, Mitch Walding and Dylan Cozens.

The Phillies are exploring options to improve the bullpen, but the 'pen's 2.32 ERA since the beginning of the month is the best in baseball. The Yankees rank second in that span with a 2.84 ERA, more than a half-run higher.

The Phils might not part with a top prospect or two for a reliever, especially when the bullpen is pitching so well.

In the end, this Deadline might look more like July 2007, when the Phillies acquired Kyle Lohse to replace J.D. Durbin and Tadahito Iguchi to replace an injured Chase Utley, than 2009, '10 and '11, when they made big splashes and landed Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence.

Back in July 2007, the Braves acquired Mark Teixeira from the Rangers and Octavio Dotel from the Royals. The Mets acquired Luis Castillo from the Twins. They were considered more aggressive, bolder moves than the Phillies' upgrades. Former Phils general manager Pat Gillick shrugged at the time.

"They have to do what they have to do," Gillick then told the Philadelphia Daily News. "We have to do what we can do. It doesn't matter. We can't worry about what Atlanta and somebody else is going to do. They have to take care of their needs and we have to take care of our needs the best we can."

The Phillies stormed back to win the NL East that September. The Mets and Braves missed the postseason.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Philadelphia Phillies, Rhys Hoskins