What We’re Hearing on the Trade Front

To show you just how intimidating Cliff Lee is, rather than have to face him
tonight, the Yankees are working out a trade to acquire him. Now that’s
intimidating. Seriously though, the Yankees and Mariners may match up on a deal
to send Cliff Lee to New York for three prospects, the likes of which the
Phillies would have been able to match – though not position for position – but
wouldn’t have ever agreed to match.

News though is that the Yankees are working on another deal; this one to
acquire Jayson Werth from the Phillies. The reported deal is Werth for pitcher
Javier Vazquez, which makes no sense, for many reasons. First of all, the
Phillies aren’t going to just take on an additional $2.25 million in salary
(pro-rated for the remainder of the season) for a pitcher who has a 4.81 ERA on
the season and has managed just a .500 record with the Yankees for the season.

Secondly, the Phillies were thought to be asking for at least two major
league players in exchange for Werth and they have always maintained that they
would want players under control past 2010 in exchange for Werth and Vazquez is
only signed through the remainder of this season.

If the Phillies were to deal Werth straight-up for Vazquez, it would be a bad
move for one major reason. Of the teams who have had an interest in Werth, three
of them – the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays – are in the AL East which would put the
Phillies in a great position to pit them against each other to get the best
possible package of players in exchange for Werth.

In a perfect world, the Phillies would prefer to trade Raul Ibanez and
continue to negotiate with Werth to keep him from filing for free agency after
the season. Dealing him to the Yankees would make a lot more sense. Ibanez and
Vazquez are owed the same amount of money through the rest of the season, but
Ibanez is owed another $11.5 million for next season. If the Phillies were to
pick up a chunk of that, they would still save money on their payroll for next
season and drop the remainder of Ibanez’ contract, which only a club like the
Yankees would likely agree to take on. It would also allow them to possibly
re-sign Werth and fit top prospect Domonic Brown, who like Ibanez, is a
left-handed hitter, into their outfield alignment with either Werth or Brown
taking over in left field.

For now, nothing is imminent between the Yankees and Phillies and nothing is
likely to happen in the immediate future, since New York has bigger fish to fry
in acquiring Cliff Lee.

Elsewhere, the Phillies haven’t had a lot of success in finding a quick and
easy deal to help their infield, so they’re likely to just go with what they’ve
got on the infield and concentrate on improving their starting rotation and
bullpen. Actually, that makes sense, since the infield hasn’t been the worst of
their problems this season. With inconsistency in the rotation and an
ever-present need for a closer to take over for Brad Lidge, pitching is going to
be the buzz-word for the Phillies over the remaining three weeks before the end
of the non-waiver trading period.

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