By DAVID MURPHY
If you are curious why the Phillies have not been mentioned as a serious suitor for the Diamondbacks' Justin Upton, take a look at the package of players that the Mariners were reportedly ready to send to Arizona before Upton scuttled the deal by invoking his no-trade clause.
Taijuan Walker: One of the top prospects in the game, he ranked at No. 20 on Baseball America's Top 100 prior to the 2012 season. A right-handed starter, he does not turn 21 until August.
Nick Franklin: Rated the No. 53 prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season, Franklin spent 2012 at Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .278/.347/.453 with 11 home runs on the season. Most importantly, he can play second base or short stop, and could be ready to contribute at the major league level this season.
Charlie Furbush: A 27-year-old reliever who logged 46 1/3 innings in 48 appearances for Seattle last season, posting a 2.72 ERA, 10.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9.
Stephen Pryor: A 23-year-old reliever who appeared in 26 games for the Mariners, posting an ERA of 3.91, 10.6 K/9, 5.1 BB/9, 2.0 HR/9.
Franklin is the key player in all of this, at least when it comes to making sense of the Phillies' position on the trade market. All the reports about Arizona's intentions suggest that the Diamondbacks are looking for a legit middle infielder to be a part of any Upton deal -- they have reportedly been holding out for the Rangers' Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus -- and Franklin is that guy. He is near major league ready, has a good ceiling, and is a favorite of scouts. In short, he is the kind of guy that the Phillies just do not have in their system. Perhaps Roman Quinn develops into that guy. But he is still at least two and probably three or four years away from even thinking about the major leagues.
The Phillies could always partner with a third team if they targeted Upton or some other high-priced player, but that third team is probably going to be looking for a blue-chip position player too. Jonathan Singleton was the kind of prospect that would ring a lot of phones, but he went to Houston in 2011 for Hunter Pence.
The Phillies have a potential blue-chip pitcher in Jesse Biddle, but all of their high-ceiling position prospects are at the lower levels of the minor leagues. Which is why a blockbuster deal involving the Phillies is not likely to happen before this year's trade deadline.