Any questions of whether the Philadelphia Phillies would be sellers this week should have been answered with their three-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. A 6-1 loss on Friday, a 2-1 loss on Saturday, and a 6-2 loss on Sunday dropped the Phillies to a whopping 16.5 games back of the division-leading Washington Nationals and 12.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.
With 60 games left in the season, the Phillies have a tough climb to finish the year with a .500 record, let alone make the playoffs. And so, even though they signed Cole Hamels to a massive six-year extension just last week, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. should be a busy man between now and 4 pm tomorrow.
Pending free agents Shane Victorino, Juan Pierre and Joe Blanton have been widely discussed as trade possibilities, but, if the right offer comes along, the Phillies won’t stop there.
The hottest rumor on the mill as of this morning has the San Francisco Giants acquiring outfielder Hunter Pence. Giants’ management has denied that a trade has been completed, but it’s a deal that could still be consummated before the trade deadline tomorrow. Prying Pence away from Philly should take a serious package of Major League-ready prospects, since he isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season.
That’s why, on paper at least, it makes more sense to trade Victorino, Pierre or Blanton, who are all free agents after this season. Of course, because of their status as rental players, those three would bring less in return in any trade.
Trading Pence should not be a foregone conclusion, though, because it would signal that the Phillies’ re-building plan would last beyond this off-season. The Phils aren’t going to win anything special this year, but they still have a solid core that could contend as early as next season. But the team’s nucleus is aging quickly with Roy Halladay (35), Cliff Lee (33), Jimmy Rollins (33), Chase Utley (33), Carlos Ruiz (33) and Ryan Howard (32), so a multi-year re-building plan shouldn’t be on the table…at least not unless they find a way to trade any of these stars, which would not only be stupid but probably impossible.
The next day and a half could be painful for the Phillies and their fans, but not trading away their soon-to-be-gone assets – and holding out hope for a return to the postseason – would prove to be even more disastrous to the team’s short- and long-term future.