- Jim Bowden, ESPN Insider
The time has come for the Philadelphia Phillies to realize that it’s too late to retool. It’s time for them to put denial behind them and embrace the realities of a complete rebuild.
The Phillies have everything going for them in terms of a marketplace in their favor. There are very few teams that are pure “sellers” at this deadline, and many of them should be have already acted (like the Chicago Cubs) or don’t have the pieces to sell (like the Houston Astros). As a result, the Phillies are sitting in a perfect position for a rebuild.
Need a top-of-the-rotation starter with postseason success? Philadelphia has two in Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Need an impact closer with an ERA closer to one than two? They have Jonathan Papelbon. Need a lefty reliever? They have Antonio Bastardo. Need a middle infielder with postseason success? They have second baseman Chase Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Need an outfielder with power? They have Marlon Byrd.
Now, wheeling and dealing all of these players over the next two weeks will not be as easy as making some standard trades. Many of these players have no-trade provisions or overvalued contracts with long-term exposure, and some are longtime Phillies who simply don’t want to get traded. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will have to get creative by being open to eating contracts or paying significant parts of contracts, convincing players to waive no-trade clauses as well as convincing other teams that some of the players are healthy. Furthermore, he'll have to get the fan base prepared for the loss of many of their favorite players. It’s not an easy task.
Amaro has had a lot of success over the years in Philadelphia since joining their front office back in 1998 as an assistant GM. He was promoted to GM in 2009 and has been there ever since. He’s overseen three first-place finishes in the NL East, followed by a third-, fourth- and, in all likelihood, fifth-place spot this year. His early success included the help of former GMs like Pat Gillick, and Ed Wade's previous work, but that shouldn’t take anything away from his accomplishments. However, the last few years have not been kind to him, and his popularity in Philadelphia and around baseball is at an all-time low.
However, he has a chance to change all of that -- and his legacy -- over the next two weeks. With some massive blockbusters and wheeling and dealing, he can make the future bright once again, but it can only happen with some serious and painful moves for everyone. The time has come to rebuild in the City of Brotherly Love, and here are seven trade suggestions that could start the process.
1. Hamels to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for center fielder Joc Pederson and left-handed pitcher Julio Urias
The Dodgers have been linked to both David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays and Hamels. According to sources, the Dodgers are willing to part with one of their top-tier prospects but not two. But the reality is that with the real chance of the Dodgers winning a World Series either this year or next -- and the benefits that a pitcher of Hamels ilk would provide to that cause -- it’s hard to envision the Dodgers letting a teenager stand in the way of a deal.
In return, the Phillies will get their long-term solution in center field with Pederson. Pederson profiles out to a 25-homer, 25-steals type of player who has the potential of joining the 30/30 club, especially if he plays half of his games at Citizens Bank Park. He has a lifetime .305/.404/.515 slash line in five minor league seasons and is major league ready.