The MLB trading deadline is less than one month away. Should the Phillies be looking to add talent (and payroll) to keep their 5 year playoff streak going, or should they write this year off as a lost cause and trade talent with an eye toward building for the future? It’s not an easy question, and as usual, is predicated on your ability to predict future performance, an inexact science at best. The Phillies have been lucky in recent years as deadline acquisitions Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter pence have contributed mightily to their success. The Phillies have been buyers, dealing prospects for help at the major league level. If they reverse the trend, selling major league talent to rebuild their depleted minor leagues, they will essentially be giving up on this year in the hopes of starting a new run in the years to come. They could trade impending free agents Shane Victorino, Juan Pierre, even Cole Hamels for prospects, (although as rental players they won’t bring in the haul they normally would), or perhaps Hunter pence, who will not be a free agent, in the hopes of bringing a larger return.
Many people think this is precisely what they will do. However, a trade deadline selloff is not what Roy Halladay and Cliff lee signed here for, nor will it hlp entice future free agents. Additionally, prospects are iffy at best. Of all the minor league players the Phillies traded to acquire the players identified above, only one, Cleveland backup catcher Lou Marson, is currently in the majors. To be sure, others are still considered good prospects (Travis D’Arnaud, Anthony Gose, Jonathan Singleton), but others stock has fallen considerably (Jason Donald, Michael Taylor), so you never know. Finally, the Phillies are expected to make three additions before the deadline that will be better than anyone any other team will be able to acquire, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Roy Halladay all should return, and if healthy, these stars should push them into playoff contention. It’s not yet time to sell, the Phillies window remains open, and perhaps with some acquisitions to help the bullpen, they can return to the top of the division they have owned for the last 5 years.