THAT THE PHILLIES dominated the national rumor mill on Monday is a good indication that Ruben Amaro Jr. made good use of his last full day before the non-waiver trade deadline. That Cliff Lee was the focus of many of those rumors is a good indication that the marketplace is a tough one.
Four months into one of the most disappointing seasons in Phillies history, Amaro and his fellow executives are well aware of the glaring holes they must fill in order to enter 2013 with a chance at World Series contention. They are also aware that the free-agent market is short on options to fill two of those holes: most of all, third base, but also the bullpen.
Problem is, the Phillies already spent most of their minor league chips trading for Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence, leaving little in the way of desirable pieces. When Fox Sports reported Monday that Amaro had inquired about Padres third baseman Chase Headley, it made sense. But such a move would likely require prospects the Phillies do not have, which would indicate a need to move an existing player in order to obtain those prospects.
In a perfect world, Shane Victorino would be that player, but the centerfielder is 2 months away from free agency, and the first 4 months of the season did little to enhance his trade value. In the real world, a player like Lee or rightfielder Hunter Pence are the Phillies' most valuable assets, which is why both players heard their names pop up in various rumors on Monday. Lee, however, has a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to 21 teams, and he is owed more than $80 million over the next three seasons. While the Rangers are one potential landing spot, ESPN.com reported that a deal between the two teams is unlikely to happen.
The odds of moving Pence are better, but there are no indications that such a deal is imminent. A report by a San Francisco television station late Sunday night said that the Giants and Phillies had agreed to a deal that was pending the approval of San Francisco's ownership, but the Giants issued a strong denial.
Heading into Tuesday, the most likely players to move are still Victorino, righthander Joe Blanton and outfielder Juan Pierre, all of whom will be free agents after the season.
The Phillies, who had an off day Monday, open a three-game series in Washington on Tuesday night.