Phillies alleged sale may not be all it's cracked up to be
Rival execs starting to think that it's quite likely the Phillies will hold onto Cliff Lee, Hunter Pence and maybe even Shane Victorino.
The Philadelphia Phillies' great sale may not turn out to be quite as exciting as folks are imagining.
Yes, they do have a lot of exciting, excellent pieces who have been bandied about in trade talk this month.
But consider a few things.
1. They've won four games in a row, three in dramatic fashion and have a very good feeling right now, though part of that feeling may be fueled by the rival Mets and Marlins, two of the teams above them, fading badly or selling off). Why interrupt that?
2. They are playing better in part due to the return of stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. They wait a long time for them to return. So why not give them a full chance?
3. They have a sellout streak going that's pretty impressive. This is definitely something that weighs on the upper reaches of management.
4. They just signed star lefthander Cole Hamels, who wanted to return in part because of the team's fire to win. (Of course, that can cut the other way, because Hamels is costing $144 million, so maybe they'll want to save a few pennies here or there.)
While there's certainly been a lot of trade talk about many of their big-name players, including Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Cliff Lee, so far they are sending signals about their concern about their present, especially in wanting to hold onto utilityman Ty Wigginton, who the Yankees sought after Alex Rodriguez went down.
And while there's been discussion about the name players, there are reasons not to want to trade each of those players, as well.
Some execs say that if the Phillies move anyone, it might well be Victorino, whose relationship with the team showed a bit of fraying recently and who isn't having his typical season. The Dodgers, Pirates and many others have shown interest, but one exc with an interested team said, "The price is really, really high.'' (He explained that meant three prime prospects, which indicates no urgency to sell.) But if they have any hope at all, Phillies people wonder who they'd use in center field if they traded Victorino.
His outfield mate Pence has been speculated as a likely trade candidate, and that's natural since some Phillies people wonder about his clutch hitting ability and outfield play, and worry about a salary that's going to close to $15 million next year through arbitration. However, there just hasn't been much evidence they are following through. Rivals execs are starting to say they believe that, ultimately, the Phillies will hold onto Pence through the season.
Lee has been considered by at least his old Rangers team. But while the Rangers aren't on Lee's veto list of 21 teams, there are other reasons a deal for Lee is unlikely.
The main one is money. The Rangers would want a major portion of the $97 million remaining on Lee's contract through 2015 to even consider Lee. The Rangers' first pitching option was Hamels, so his signing will make them more seriously consider others, but they have other possibilities, as well, and are also monitoring Zack Greinke, James Shields and Josh Johnson.
Jimmy Rollins has been considered by the A's and Dodgers (before they got Hanley Ramirez, anyway). But Rollins has veto rights, and while some Phillies people believe they overpaid to keep Rollins, that might prove to be a difficult deal emotionally for Phillies higherups to sign off on.