Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Breaking down the Phillies' many potential suitors

Phillies pitchers (from left to right) Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, A.J. Burnett and Cliff Lee. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)
Phillies pitchers (from left to right) Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, A.J. Burnett and Cliff Lee. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

The Phillies are ready to stuff their mouths with cash so you can take their players away! This and other developments will certainly intensify as the trade rumors fill the air and choke you to death in the lead-up to the July 31 deadline.

With so many players available for contenders, the Phillies have a lot of teams to keep straight [farm system ranks are from Baseball Prospectus].

You aren't seeing Jonathan Papelbon here because the two teams rumored most interested in him, the Angels and Dodgers, have found help elsewhere or are not interested anymore, and as Ken Rosenthal said today, he is "generating little interest."

Boston Red Sox

Interested in: Cole Hamels

Impending free agents: 1B/DH David Ortiz, C David Ross, SS Stephen Drew, OF Jonny Gomes, LHP John Lester, RHP Jake Peavy, RHP Ryan Dempster, RHP Koji Uehara, LHP Andrew Miller

Farm system rank: Fourth

Trade chips: All of their free agents, Burke Badenhop, John Lackey, Jonathan Herrera, RHPs Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, and Matt Barnes, LHPs Drake Britton and Henry Owens, 2B Mookie Betts, 3B Garin Cecchini, 2B Wendell Rijo, catchers Blake Swihart, Christian Vasquez and Dan Butler.

With the largest free agent class of the Phillies' potential suitors, Boston finds itself wrapped in possible dramatics. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports theorizes that part of their interest in Hamels could be a negotiating ploy to get John Lester back to the table. They could also, you know, want two really good pitchers.

But unlike most of the other teams listed here, the Red Sox join the Phillies in not contending for anything. Their ripe free agent class is more available than others as they consider becoming sellers. Most of these guys are great additions to contending teams needing one more piece to make it all come together, so presumably the Phillies would be more into the Red Sox's stacked farm system. Presumably.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Interested in: A.J. Burnett

Impending FAs: C Russell Martin, LHP Francisco Liriano, RHP Edinson Volquez, SS Clint Barmes

Farm system rank: Third

Trade chips: OFs Jose Tabata, Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, Harold Ramirez, SP Jameson Taillon, SP Luis Heredia, SP Nick Kingham

Burnett may be seen as valuable to teams like the Pirates, who dream of a stable injection into the rotation, but that doesn't make them desperate. There will not be a huge price paid for Burnett, unless the Phillies suddenly become skilled negotiators.

Baltimore Orioles

Interested in: A.J. Burnett

Impending FAs: SS J.J. Hardy, C Nick Hundley, OF/DH Nelson Cruz, OF/DH Delmon Young, LHP Wei-Yin Chen

Farm system rank: 12th

Trade chips: OF Dariel Alvarez, 1B Christian Walker, LHP Tim Berry, LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, OF Mike Yastrzemski, 1B Trey Mancini

What goes for the Buccos' interest in Burnett goes for the O's, only with a weaker farm system from which to draw. Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are less likely to go anywhere - the Orioles are finally in a position to grow, not start over; but they do have the depth to make a trade work.

Seattle Mariners

Interested in: Marlon Byrd?

Impending FAs: DH Corey Hart, OF Franklin Gutierrez, RHP Chris Young

Farm system rank: 17th

Trade chips: 2B Nick Franklin, SS Brad Miller, RHP Brandon Maurer, OF Austin Wilson, OF Stefen Romero, SS Chris Taylor and OF Gabriel Guerrero

This was the rumor that kicked off Trade Rumor Season, and now seems to hang by a thread. There are better options out there, so the Mariners are using the Phillies and Byrd as a fallback plan. And don't forget about that no-trade clause that the Phillies seriously gave to a 36-year-old outfielder as part of his two-year deal.

Toronto Blue Jays

Interested in: Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick

Impending FAs: 1B Adam Lind, OF Melky Cabrera, CF Colby Rasmus, RHP Casey Janssen

Farm system rank: 13th

Trade chips: LHP Daniel Norris, LHP Aaron Sanchez, OF Dalton Pompey

It's unclear how much interest the Jays still have in Kendrick, as the game at which their scouts monitored him was the one in which he gave up six runs and hit two batters. The cheap, soon-to-be free agent will be a consolation prize of the late July sweepstakes and go to a team who just can't help but feel disappointed he isn't David Price, or even Ryan Vogelsong.

Cliff Lee has two starts to really make an impression, but Toronto (and New York) couldn't even wait for him to make a real start tonight. They were at his rehab start in Clearwater, already salivating.

Meanwhile, teams can have as much interest in Utley as they want. He does not want to go anywhere, and won't, unless the Phillies stage a city-wide evacuation and then don't let him back in.

The Jays are treading water in the AL East, having fallen behind the Orioles after key injuries to Brett Lawrie, Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion, but also do not want to take on money through any deals or lose prospects who they could promote and get just as much out of as a trade. They'll be navigating these waters carefully.

San Francisco Giants

Interested in: Chase Utley

Impending FAs: 3B Pablo Sandoval, OF Mike Morse, RHP Ryan Vogelsong, RHP Sergio Romo

Farm system rank: 22nd

Trade chips"We’ve told everybody that everybody we have is in play," [Giants GM Brian] Sabean said. "There are no untouchables in our organization." --San Jose Mercury News

Almost as soon as the Braves released him, the Giants noted interest in Dan Uggla. So the range of their pursuit of second basemen clearly stretches over a lot of ground. They would love to improve at second base, but if they're considering even Uggla an option, chances are their low-ranked farm system and roster of untradeable talent won't match up with the insane deal the Phillies would need to trade Utley.

New York Yankees

Interested in: Cliff Lee

Impending FAs: 2B Kelly Johnson, 2B Brian Roberts, OF Ichiro Suzuki, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP David Robertson, LHP Jeff Francis

Farm system rank: 23rd

Trade chips: Free agents, C Gary Sanchez, RHP Luis Severino, C Peter O'Brien, 2B Rob Refsnyder

The question remains: Who could the Yankees possibly offer for a stone cold ace like Lee or Hamels (or David Price, or anybody, signing Jeff Francis was pretty much like waving a white flag) that would make it worthwhile? And the answer remains: No one.

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