Phillies' trade deadline unfolding as expected. Why the surprise?

With 16 hours left before the non waiver trade deadline, I’m not sure which is more interesting: the public perception that the Phillies are asking too much for their players, or the public perception that the Phillies actually have players that teams want.

A couple of weeks ago, we explained why Jonathan Papelbon probably wasn’t going to land them much:

Last week, we looked at why A.J. Burnett will be a tough sell (He doesn’t constitute a clear upgrade to anybody’s rotation).

Antonio Bastardo has drawn interest, but almost every team has a lefty reliever that it would trade for a decent prospect, which means the demand isn’t really there for any of them to land a decent prospect.

Otherwise, I’m not sure what it is people think the Phillies have. We’ve been writing for months that Cliff Lee will have to be dealt in August, if at all. And if he continues to pitch the way he did in his first two starts off the DL, it won’t be at all. Ryan Howard is untraceable. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley both have the right to veto any trade. Carlos Ruiz just got back from a long absence due to a concussion.

It is absolutely possible that the Phillies are over-playing their hand. They haven’t always displayed the greatest self-awareness in the past. At the same time, they are not in the position as most sellers. Remember, the lubricant of the trade deadline is teams trying to shed salary. There are a couple of blockbuster deals every summer. Mostly, though, it is selling sunk costs for pennies on the dollar. This is why we’ve focused much of our attention on the two assets that could bring the team real value: Cole Hamels and Chase Utley. Neither seems likely to move.

The Phillies only motivation for dealing players is to add younger pieces that have a chance to help them in the future. If they can’t get those pieces now, they might as well wait for the offseason. That probably won’t do them any good with regard to Burnett, but for Byrd and Bastardo and Papelbon, there could very well be a market in the offseason, given the paucity of talent available on the free agent market and the increase in demand as teams gain roster and payroll flexibility and start planning for the long haul of 2015.

Again, we’ve said this all along.




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