Trade Radar: What We’re Hearing

Right now, the team to watch in terms of dealing for the Phillies is Toronto.
The Blue Jays have a number of pitchers – primarily relievers – that they are
shopping around and the Phillies have definitely shown some interest. In fact, a
key adviser to Ruben Amaro Jr. – Charlie Kerfeld – followed the Jays through
their series with Baltimore and now into their series with Kansas City.

Left-hander Scott Downs (3-5, 2.52), 34, is known to be on the Phillies list
of pitchers that they’re interested in acquiring. Downs would give the Phillies
a second quality lefty in their bullpen to compliment J.C. Romero and Downs
salary, which calls for him to receive about $2 million over the remainder of
the season, is palatable to the Phillies tastes. The down side is that other
clubs are trying to get Downs and the cost, in terms of prospects, has been too
high for other clubs to consider. The Red Sox inquired about Downs and Toronto
immediately asked for phenom shortstop Jose Iglesias in exchange, prompting
Boston to back away. Keep in mind though that Toronto and Boston are divisional
rivals and the asking price may be a little higher because of that fact, and
also keep in mind that Boston’s request came before the All-Star Break, so
Toronto’s price may drop as the deadline nears.

Toronto also has reliever Jason Frasor (3-2-3, 4.54) available and are even
shopping closer Kevin Gregg (0-4-21, 3.93). With the Phillies bullpen –
especially Brad Lidge – presenting a huge question mark, Gregg could be a good
fit for the Phillies down the stretch, although Frasor would seem to be more of
the same type of pitcher that they’ve already got in the bullpen. Frasor, who is
owed only about $1.3 million for the rest of the season, is a free agent
following the season, while Gregg is owed just $1 million for the rest of the
season and has a favorable club option to cover the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Could the Phillies also be scouting Jose Bautista? Possible, but not likely.
One potential scenario would be for Bautista to play third base with Placido
Polanco moving over to second, until Chase Utley returns. Once that happens,
Bautista could potentially take over an outfield spot, potentially platooning
with Raul Ibanez. Bautista, who leads the American League with 25 home runs, is
owed just $1.2 million for the rest of the year and is a free agent following
the season. The Phillies could well consider signing him long-term and allowing
Jayson Werth to leave via free agency and then putting top prospect Domonic
Brown in the lineup either as a platoon with Ibanez or they could consider
dealing Shane Victorino to open up an outfield spot for Brown. Bautista’s bat
would give the Phillies the right-handed power that they need, especially if
Lidge is allowed to walk.

Reports have the Phillies interested in Oakland’s Ben Sheets, but don’t
believe them. First, Sheets has an ERA over 6.5 away from Oakland, he’s owed
over $4 million for the rest of the season in guaranteed money and should reach
the $2 million in incentives that his contract calls for him to receive. There
really isn’t much reason why the Phillies would want Sheets when they could
bring up a guy like J.A. Happ or Drew Carpenter and certainly get at least as
much production, and most likely, better with out the cost.

Hopefully, the injury to Andy Pettitte will kill any lingering thoughts of a
Jayson Werth for Javier Vazquez deal. The trade never did make sense, but it has
somehow lingered on a lot of trade rumor lists. Pettitte’s injury should take
away any interest that the Yankees would have had in making that deal, since
they were already looking for another starter and any deal of this type was
thought to be contingent on them trading for another starting pitcher to fill
Vazquez’ spot.

Word is that the potential deal – or deals – between the Phillies and Orioles
are now dead, as well. The Phillies were scouting reliever Jeremy Guthrie and
infielders Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada. Guthrie and Tejada never really were
great fits for the Phillies, but Wigginton would be and they have long had an
interest in bringing him to Philly. Problem is that the O’s are asking for too
much in exchange for Wiggington, but like the Jays, their price could come down
prior to the trade deadline.

And finally, the Phillies aren’t likely to offer George Sherrill anything
more than a possible minor league deal. The once quality reliever has been
horrid with the Dodgers this season and he cleared waivers recently. Sherrill
still might accept a minor league assignment with Los Angeles, but he could also
elect to become a free agent, which is where the Phillies might come in if he
were to be interested in a minor league deal.

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