This time a year ago, the talk around Philadelphia was about firing Ruben Amaro Jr., trading away top players, and gathering assets to begin rebuilding. The Phillies followed through in a big way by having one of the busiest and most successful trade deadlines in the MLB. They traded away all of their players with value: Ben Revere to the Blue Jays, Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman to the Rangers, Jonathan Papelbon to the Nationals, and later in the season Chase Utley to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In December, they finished the job of trading away players with value to gain future assets when they traded Ken Giles to the Houston Astros. The rebuild had begun.
A season ago, they had talented individuals but no real future. This year, they have a future because of last year’s trades and can still make the future a little brighter. They are already a better team than last year (43-51 compared to 32-62) with part of that success coming from guys who were received in trades last year: Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, and Brett Oberholtzer. This year, the Phillies should be sellers again.
It will impossible to have as big of a return this year as they had last year, but that is because the star players are gone. There are, however, players of value on the Phillies that can benefit a playoff contender this year and yield a positive return for the Phillies. Losing these players may hurt the Phillies this season, but losing them will not jeopardize the future of the organization which is the focus of the fans and the front office this year. Let’s take a look at some of the players that could be wearing something other than pinstripe red in August.
Offensive catchers are in high demand and short supply nowadays, and Rupp has proven that is what he can be this season. He is having a career year batting .283/.326/.493 with 9 homeruns and 26 RBI in 59. Amongst catchers who have played 50 or more games in the NL, Rupp is 6th in batting average, 7th in homeruns, and T-2nd in doubles and slugging percentage. He’s no slouch on defense either with only 3 passed balls, a .992 fielding percentage, and a cannon for an arm. The Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and even the Boston Red Sox are all teams that could benefit from an offensive threat behind the plate.
The “veteran” of the pitching staff at age 29, Hellickson has been a bargain for the Phillies this season. Although some of his numbers are not dazzling, he has been a consistent threat to opposing batters all season long and is well on his way to setting a career high for strikeouts in a season. He has postseason experience which looms large come October not only for the individual but for his teammates and fellow pitchers as well. He is not an ace, but would be a quality addition for a team in need of a Game 3 or Game 4 starter in the postseason. The Miami Marlins have reported some interest in the Phillies right-hander.
Bourjos has had a bit of a roller coaster ride this season. He has gone from being a starter to having his average hover around the Mendoza line, to being a starter that has a .264 average. Since May 31st, however, Bourjos is batting .348. He has hit is way into the trade conversation, and he wouldn’t be a bad pickup for a few teams in need of depth. He is a 29-year-old veteran with playoff experience from his time spent with the Cardinals in 2014. His offense has gotten better as the season progresses, and he has shown he is capable of coming off the bench and producing. The Texas Rangers are certainly a team that could use some outfield depth. The Chicago Cubs, riddled with injuries to their outfield, may be a good suitor for Bourjos until Fowler and others can get healthy.
Blanco’s biggest asset is his ability to play any position. He has played 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS for the Phillies this season. Having that trustworthy, defensive, utility player that can come off the bench in the 7th inning or later and make the necessary plays to win a game can be huge for a playoff team. Look at the reigning World Series Champions. The Royals were an all-around good team, but they showed that defense still wins games. Blanco has also been a solid pinch-hitter for the Phillies all season, so an NL team that struggles to get pinch hits (Dodgers, Mets, Pirates) would benefit from Blanco’s services.
Aside from the next two people on this list, Asche is probably the least likely to get traded. He has yet to put up any eye-catching numbers in his four years with the Phillies, and he is a former third baseman playing the outfield. The reason he is on this list is because it would make sense for the Phillies to trade him. They have an abundance of outfielders on their team whether it be in the Majors or the Minors. Asche has shown glimpses of high-promise and is still a fairly young guy at 26 years old. If the Phillies can convince another team that Asche has the potential to be a quality player for years to come, then make the trade and get a decent prospect that will help the rebuild in return.
Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz
These two are here solely for their experience. They are the only two members of the 2008 World Series team left in the dugout. Looking at their statistics this season, it’s a hard sell for General Manager Matt Klentak. Both players will most likely remain on the team after the deadline and then move somewhere else during free agency. Ruiz is the easier candidate to sell to other teams because he is a veteran catcher that calls a great game and knows how to work with a variety of pitching styles.
August 1st is the trade deadline! It is considered an unofficial National Holiday for many baseball fans. Let’s see what this holiday brings for the Phillies.
Writer’s Note: What do you think the Phillies should do before August 1st? Who are the players you hope to see come and go to and from the Phillies? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow @Dan_Ward_11 on Twitter for more Phillies news and discussion.
All statistics as of July 19th before game time. Article photo credit to USA TODAY Sports. See baseball-reference.com for more stats on each player.