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|Ruben Amaro Jr.|
Courtesy of PhilliesNation.com
Over the next three days, Ruben Amaro Jr. will be feverishly finagling the phones in an effort to receive as much as he can in return for some of his aging and/or moderately overpaid stars. With the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaching, the painful process of making the hard decisions to deal perennial fan-favorites looms large in the offices at One Citizens Bank Way.
But this isn't at all new territory for the Phillies General Manager as he's made several bold moves during his five year tenure as the big boss man, just not so many in the role of seller. Amaro will face these decisions head-on this week, but he has to know that he can only pull the trigger when the answer is an emphatic "yes" to this question. It certainly wouldn't hurt for him to hang a few pictures of Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez around his desk as a reminder of the notoriously nasty Cliff Lee trade to Seattle in 2010. Fool me once...
Ironically, Lee will find himself once again right in the thick of the hundreds of rumors that will swirl until 4pm Wednesday. In addition to Lee, there will be several other usual suspects along with a few newcomers whose names will be tossed about between the MLB brass.
Let's review their trade potential:
Courtesy of TorontoSun.com
Papelbon tried his best yesterday to further alienate himself from the fan base yesterday--the same fans he never really connected with anyway--when he said, "I definitely didn't come here for this.". Classic case of forcing-the-hand of his superiors. I get that the philosophy and team direction was definitely different when he inked his large deal, but comments like this from the outspoken, Kramer-eque closer will never go well in Philadelphia. Crazy like a fox, Papelbon knew fully well what he was doing.
Word on the street is that the Texas Rangers are shopping Joe Nathan, which may soften the market for Papelbon.
Closing the Deal: Papelbon's contract is THE bugaboo here and any trade partner will undoubtedly ask for the Phillies to eat a large portion of his $13 million per season. With a TV deal coming to Philadelphia, it may be the saving grace towards a possible trade.
And while Papelbon's velocity is down, his playoff pedigree may be enough to sway the final decision. Based upon the crazed look in his eye every time he takes the hill, another taste of October baseball may just adrenalize him that much more.
Potential Suitors: Boston, Pittsburgh (Grilli out 6-8 weeks), Cleveland, Los Angeles Dodgers
|Cliff Lee and Michael Young|
Courtesy of ESPN.com
Amaro is apparently listening to offers for Lee, but unnamed executives across MLB have confirmed that the Phillies will need to be blown away. It's still my contention that Lee will remain a Phillie after Wednesday.
After missing a start, Lee's stiff neck over the weekend was confirmed legit by a teammate, so there also may be some hesitancy for any interested parties. On the surface, it may seem minor, but ask Clay Buchholz how that has worked out for him. The Boston pitcher has been on the shelf since early June with a similar ailment.
Potential Suitors: Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis (not on Lee's no-trade list)
Michael Young - 90%: He will be traded either before the non-waiver deadline expires or after as a waiver pickup in August. His 2013 debut with the Phillies hasn't been bad, but it hasn't been as productive as expected as we all thought he'd have more than 32 RBI on July 29th.
However, he is an experienced bat who can play either corner infield position but will be more attractive as a DH for an American League contender.
Potential Suitors: Baltimore, Texas, Boston, New York Yankees and possibly Tampa
Chase Utley - 10%: Is arguably the most attractive player out there among potential targets, but I don't see Amaro trading Utley unless he flips the team's course to a complete overhaul. You may have read my opinions on Utley here and my gut has not changed over the past 48 hours. Utley's contract will be extended at some point before the end of this season.
However, this is not to say teams won't be calling.
Potential Suitors: Baltimore, Oakland, Los Angeles Dodgers
Courtesy of Philly.com
However, he is a top-3 MLB defender behind the plate and a proven ace whisperer as few backstops can handle a pitching staff as well as our beloved Chooch. Ruiz's pitch-calling and feel for opposing batters could be the difference in turning a good start into a dominant one in the playoffs.
If Amaro does send Ruiz packing, it will not be a very popular move as the Citizen Bank Park faithful have developed quite the love affair for the diminutive and soft-spoken catcher from Panama.
Potential Suitors: New York Yankees, Tampa, Oakland, Los Angeles Dodgers
Any party willing to invest won't have to worry about salary since he's riding a one year, $750k contract and would most certainly only be a rental. The question is will there be a team willing to bank on a possible repeat of last year's ALCS MVP and World Series performance? Low risk, high reward. But therein lies the rub on Delmon Young; you never know what you are going to get in return night in, night out.
Potential Suitors: New York Yankees, Oakland
In my opinion, we should be ready to say goodbye to at least two of the above-mentioned players. My guess is that we won't be too weepy after the dust settles as it is my prediction that only Papelbon and Michael Young will relocate. Safe, but necessary trades.
What would you like to see happen?