Phillies trade deadline: Top needs and logical fits originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
In the week leading up to the August 2 MLB trade deadline, we're taking a daily look at the trade market and what the Phillies could accomplish.
First up: An overview of the Phils' top needs and who could be available.
There are a lot of really, really bad teams this season.
The Tigers, Royals, Angels, Athletics, Nationals, Pirates, Cubs and Reds are each 15 or more games under .500. The Rockies and Diamondbacks, buried at the bottom of the NL West, aren't in much better shape.
These teams have been clearly out of contention for some time which has helped delineate buyers from sellers. The Angels aren't going to trade Shohei Ohtani or Mike Trout. The Royals aren't going to trade Bobby Witt Jr. The Tigers aren't going to trade Riley Greene. But pretty much everyone else on these rosters should be available for the right offer, including the talk of the trade market, Nationals outfielder Juan Soto.
The Phillies begin the week with a 59.4 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to Baseball-Reference's simulator, just a bit below the Brewers’ 62.2 percent. St. Louis trails Milwaukee in the Central by 2½ games but the Cardinals have the softest remaining strength of schedule in the majors, which factors into the simulator favoring the Cardinals in the division.
The Phils will likely spend the second half chasing the third and final National League wild-card spot with an outside chance at the second wild-card if the Padres (four games ahead) slip.
They don't have one or two needs. The Phillies right now need substantial offensive help, another starting pitcher, and teams can always use more bullpen help. The bullpen has actually been a relative strength for the Phillies of late, posting a 2.61 ERA since June 22, third-best in the majors.
The knee injury and uncertainty with Zach Eflin gives Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski little choice but to acquire a starting pitcher. Left-hander Bailey Falter is currently taking turns in the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation but it's a precarious situation because he has been just OK and there is no depth behind him. Falter (0-3, 5.18) allowed four runs and a string of well-hit balls over five innings Sunday
Below Castillo and Montas are Castillo's Reds teammate Tyler Mahle and Rangers veteran lefty Martín Perez, who is enjoying a career year thanks to MLB-best rates of painting corners. Noah Syndergaard of the Angels would be an option as a rental.
The Padres have a couple of pitchers they could dangle in Blake Snell and Mike Clevinger, but even if they part with one, it's unlikely they'd send them to Philadelphia to help a fellow wild-card hopeful.
Back-end starters who could be moved include Pittsburgh's Jose Quintana, Colorado's Chad Kuhl, Baltimore's Jordan Lyles, Kansas City's Brad Keller and Oakland's Paul Blackburn -- unexciting names who won't cost a ton but could be better sources of innings than Falter with the ability to go deeper into a game on occasion. We'll take a closer look at the starting pitching market tomorrow morning.
The Phillies' offensive needs are complicated. They need at least one more productive bat in the lineup but they're limited in their flexibility. If they were to acquire a corner outfielder/DH, what happens when Bryce Harper returns, potentially in late-August? The Phillies have Kyle Schwarber in left field, Nick Castellanos in right and Darick Hall as the DH right now. If all three are healthy when Harper returns, Harper would become the DH (he still has the issue in his throwing arm) and Hall would become either a big bat off the bench or go back to Triple A for regular playing time. They are not going to begin regularly benching Castellanos in the first year of a $100 million contract, even if the performance warrants it.
So the offensive help pretty much has to come in the form of a center fielder or someone who plays the left side of the infield. And even the infield component of this is muddied by the presence of Bryson Stott and Alec Bohm, two of the Phillies' recent first-rounders they are counting on to emerge and supplement this high-priced roster.
The inability to play a quality center field would seem to eliminate outfielders like Andrew Benintendi, Trey Mancini, David Peralta from the top of the Phillies' wish list.
Outfielders with the ability to play center who could make sense include longshots like Baltimore's Cedric Mullins and Pittsburgh's Bryan Reynolds, along with Ian Happ of the Cubs, Kansas City's Whit Merrifield, Oakland's Ramon Laureano and Cincinnati's Tommy Pham. An in-depth look at the outfield market is coming Wednesday.
Later in the week, we'll take a look at available relievers, infielders who could make sense and prospects the Phillies could part with in trades.