Once again it appears as if the Philadelphia Phillies will be absent from playoff baseball in 2014. A mix of veterans past their prime and inexperienced younger players have made the season a bust. Not all will necessarily be lost if the team decides to begin the rebuilding phase of their franchise which can start by trading these three players.
A lifer in the Phillies’ organization, a big reason why Jimmy Rollins entered the 2014 season with his old team had to do with how close he was to breaking Mike Schmidt’s record for most hits in the team’s history; something he has now accomplished. Now that this accomplishment is over with the team should consider buying him a plane ticket elsewhere.
Rollins has gotten worse each season he remains in Philadelphia. His batting average continues to dip and he is nowhere near the player he was during his 2007 MVP campaign. Shortstop is no longer an extremely deep position and there will be teams looking for a guy like Rollins at the trade deadline. The Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants are just two competitive teams that could use a player like Rollins in the lineup as neither team has a reliable player at the position.
Expensive closers are valuable for any team expecting to win for multiple years to come. In the case of the Phillies who have not been to the playoffs since 2012, paying Jonathan Papelbon $51 million to pitch the last inning for them is a huge waste. Add to it his negative attitude and this is a man whom the front office would love to trade and get something in return.
Now that Papelbon has developed a reputation for being a bit more arrogant than when he was a member of the Boston Red Sox, it may be harder to convince someone else to take him. The Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels may risk a locker room troublemaker since neither team has a truly dependable closer. There’s definitely a consistent market for pitchers of Papelbon’s skill level. The only question remaining is whether or not the Phillies can get something worthy back in return.
Departing with second baseman Chase Utley could cause a riot in Philadelphia. Worse, sitting around and doing nothing could end with the same result. Utley is not getting any younger and after a hot start to the 2014 season, the Phillies should see where the market on his value lies.
Many teams would like a guy like Utley if only for his locker room presence. A true team leader known to never cause friction with others around him, he could be an absolute benefit wherever he lands. The Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics, and Texas Rangers all have a weakness at second base. The added benefit of allowing Utley to work as a designated hitter on some days would keep him fresh, thus a stronger bat. American League or National League bound, Utley is a player Phillies’ General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is going to hear a lot about from other teams in July.