By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Their record in the 19 games the Phillies have left on the schedule before the All-Star break will likely determine whether the team is a "buyer" or a "seller" at the trade deadline. According to a report, Cliff Lee and Hunter Pence would be two pieces that wouldn't be going anywhere.
Since Hunter Pence is under team control through next season, he could be a valuable trade chip. But Ken Rosenthall of Fox Sports thinks that's unlikely.
One rival executive, however, predicts that the Phillies won't trade Pence because "they don't believe in their other outfielders," referring to John Mayberry and Domonic Brown.
Some fans and writers have suggested that the Phillies could trade Cliff Lee to make money available to sign Cole Hamels. Rosenthal reports that is also unlikely:
[I]t would be easier said than done.
• Hamels no doubt sees that the Phillies in decline – a decline that only would continue, if not accelerate, with the departure of Lee.
• An agent for another player predicts that Hamels will strike a monster deal in free agency, exceeding even CC Sabathia's record $24.4 million average salary.
Six years, $150 million? Seven years, $175 million? The Phillies won't go anywhere near those levels.
• Lee is owed $75 million from 2013 to '15. No team will take on that money and give up the young talent that the Phillies crave; the Phils would need to include significant cash in the deal, reducing their savings.
• Lee, first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley and righty Roy Halladay all have the same no-trade protection, according to major-league sources: They only can be traded to eight teams without their permission.
If what Rosenthal suggests is true, and the Phillies end up being sellers, the most valuable candidates would be Hamels, Shane Victorino, and perhaps Carlos Ruiz.
Do you think the Phillies will make any big trades? Let us know in the comments.
for more features.