The trade deadline is six weeks away, and the Phillies have not faded from either the National League East or wild-card races.
Surely, Matt Klentak’s phone has been buzzing.
“There’s been a handful of conversations,” the Phillies general manager said Tuesday. “I wouldn’t say that the trade market has been hot at this point. It’s the proverbial feeling-out process.”
For the first time in Klentak’s three-year tenure, the Phillies could be a deadline buyer. It’s not yet clear how aggressive he will be in adding pieces to the big-league roster, but he did allow for the possibility that the Phillies will consider adding a player with an expiring contract as a two-month rental.
A lot will depend on how the rest of this month plays out. Win one game left Wednesday in the series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies are halfway through a difficult June schedule with a 7-10 record. The next two weeks don’t get any easier. Beginning Friday, the Phillies play 10 consecutive games against the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees.
“What we’ve said all along is that if we can come out of June in a good position and get ourselves onto a roll in July, then that will hopefully put ourselves into a position to make additions,” Klentak said. “That could come in the form of years of control or the form of rentals. If it’s the rental type, we just have to make sure that we’re maintaining the proper balance and perspective on that, so that we’re making this team better, but also not mortgaging too much of our future.”
The Phillies’ biggest need might be a middle-of-the-order bat. Despite leading the league in walks and pitches per plate appearance, they rank only eighth in runs scored and homers, 11th in slugging percentage, and 12th in OPS.
Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado represents the biggest bat on the trade market. But the Phillies are expected to be among the most aggressive suitors for Machado when he reaches the free-agent market this offseason, so it’s difficult to imagine they will trade 19-year-old lefty Sixto Sanchez or any other touted prospects to get Machado for two months.
Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ, both former Phillies lefties, likely will be on the market, but the Phils have a greater need for another late-inning reliever. Klentak declined to say whether the Phillies inquired about Kansas City Royals closer Kelvin Herrera before he was dealt to the Nationals on Monday.
Relief help might be on the way. Veteran sidearmer Pat Neshek (forearm) likely will begin a minor-league rehab assignment next week, and Klentak referred to him as possibly “the single biggest bullpen acquisition any team makes.”
“We have to evaluate our team and figure out where we are heading into the month of July, come out of the All-Star break and make the most informed decisions that we can,” Klentak said. “It might mean a rental. It might be in a longer-term piece. The performance of the team will dictate our direction.”
Williams’ nose is broken
Further tests revealed that Nick Williams did, in fact, break his nose Monday night when a fly ball glanced off the right-field wall and hit him in the face in the eighth inning. But the outfielder wasn’t concussed and likely won’t need to be placed on the disabled list.
“I remember the ball coming straight down and not ricocheting off [the wall]. I don’t know how that was a thing,” Williams said. “That was really weird. Can’t say I have ever seen a ball do that. I just remember my hands being covered in blood. I can’t believe I got up and threw the ball in.”
Williams said it marked the second time he has broken his nose. He got hit in the face by a pitch as an 11-year-old. Doctors told him the first fracture might have caused his nose to break more easily this time.
Aaron Altherr started in right field Tuesday night. Manager Gabe Kapler didn’t rule out Williams playing in the next few days.
Outfield prospect Mickey Moniak recently missed seven games at high-A Clearwater with an unspecific ailment. The reason: He had his wisdom teeth removed. … Jake Arrieta (5-5, 3.33 ERA) will face Cardinals righthander Michael Wacha (8-2, 3.24) in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon.