PHILADELPHIA -- General manager Matt Klentak said the Phillies have been "very active" with trade discussions over the past few days. That is not surprising, because they have a host of players who could help a contender.
The list begins with Jeremy Hellickson, Peter Bourjos and Jeanmar Gómez. Of course, Klentak acknowledged that many of the Phillies' conversations have led nowhere. But while he said Thursday that he would not handicap the chances of a trade before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, it would be very surprising if the Phillies remained status quo.
"We're open-minded to ways to improve our club, both for now and into the future," Klentak said.
The Phillies have incentives to move Hellickson, Bourjos and Gomez. Hellickson and Bourjos are free agents after the season, and moving them would allow the Phillies to get a longer look at Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander Jake Thompson, their No. 2 prospect who is 6-0 with a 0.58 ERA in his last nine starts; outfielder Aaron Altherr, whose rehab assignment ends Wednesday; and possibly Lehigh Valley outfielder Nick Williams, who is the organization's third-ranked prospect.
Gomez is having a nice season as a closer, but the Phillies might want to move the former middle reliever while his stock is highest, especially because they have internal options to replace him in Héctor Neris and Edubray Ramos.
But Klentak insists the Phillies are not pressured to trade anybody, which is true only in the sense they will not give away players just to make room for their prospects. They want something of value in return.
"Sometimes when you feel compelled to make a trade, that's when you make a bad trade," Klentak said. "But I will say that it helps when we have players in the Minor Leagues who are putting themselves in position to be able to contribute and potentially back-fill an opening. That gives me more confidence as I enter the trade market.
"I can also envision a scenario where a lot of the guys are still here and the prospects are still in Triple-A. We're open to it."
Thompson seems to be the closest to a promotion, especially with so many teams interested in Hellickson. Williams and shortstop J.P. Crawford -- the club's top prospect -- seem likely to be September callups.
"We will make a spot if we need to," Klentak said. "But right now we haven't felt the need to create a spot. So we just have to see if it naturally evolves that way."
Trade talks seem to naturally evolve into something tangible shortly before the Trade Deadline. It always has been that way, and it might be no different this year. So while Klentak sounded like nothing is imminent, it seems something will happen.
"There's been quite a lot of action on a number of players," he said. "I take it as a very positive sign that other clubs have interest in a lot of our players. And it's not just the pending free agents. This time of year there are plenty of teams fishing on our younger more controllable players, too -- who I don't have any great desire to trade. But that doesn't stop a lot of the GMs from calling and asking about them.
"I think that's a good sign, it kind of confirms what we all see with our eyes, that we've got some pretty darn good young players on this team."