Phillies' Joseph Becomes Trade Candidate as Club Plots Ways to Look at Hoskins in Majors

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin came out of Friday's three-hour meeting with general manager Matt Klentak and other top front-office officials believing the club could have a new look in the coming weeks.

Does that mean a significant influx of young prospects for baseball's worst team?

Sounds that way.

"I'm hoping we are going to see them in the second half, sooner than later," Mackanin said. "We'll see what happens, especially at the (July 31) trading deadline. If we make a couple, three trades, it might change the whole complexion of the team."

It's no secret that the Phillies' front office is trying to move veterans Jeremy Hellickson, Pat Neshek, Howie Kendrick, Joaquin Benoit and Daniel Nava. Heck, that was part of the plan when the team added each of these players, all of whom are on expiring contracts.

There are enough teams looking for a rental starting pitcher that the Phillies should be able to move Hellickson, especially considering that they are willing to eat a significant chunk of the approximately $6 million that will remain on his contract at the end of July. Kansas City and Seattle could be two teams to watch on Hellickson. The Phils will have no problem moving Neshek, who is having an excellent year as a setup man. Kendrick, Benoit and Nava could all offer something to a contender and the price to acquire them would not be high. 

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Add Tommy Joseph's name to the list of potential trade candidates. The Phillies have no untouchables; that has been long clear. But Joseph is starting to stand out a little more than others as a player available for a trade. The Phillies would like to take a look at power-hitting first baseman Rhys Hoskins at some point during the second half of the season. To do that, they would have to move Joseph aside.

"They can't coexist on the same team," Mackanin said. "There is no way I could [get playing time for both]. It wouldn't be fair to either guy. It wouldn't be fair to us. It wouldn't be fair to Tommy. Tommy's got a chance to hit 30 home runs and drive in 90 runs. To take that possibility away from him, I don't think is fair to him, regardless of what we think about him. He's a pretty good hitter. And to bring Rhys up here just to play part-time doesn't make sense to me. If he could play another position, if either one of them could, it would make it easier for me to do. But I don't think it would help either guy or us to find out about Rhys Hoskins if he is not playing on a regular basis."

Both players play exclusively first base.

Joseph could be attractive to an American League club for which he could bring some power to the first-base position, but also be a designated hitter. The Yankees are looking for a first baseman and a bullpen setup man. Sending Neshek and Joseph to the Bronx in a package deal could make some sense, provided the Phillies liked the return.

Joseph, who turns 26 next week, entered Friday night hitting .246 with 14 homers and 42 RBIs. (He doubled and homered in his first two at-bats.) He had an on-base percentage of .302 and a slugging percentage of .449. He had 76 strikeouts and 22 walks.

Hoskins, 24, was hitting .292 with 20 homers and 66 RBIs at Triple A Lehigh Valley. He had a .387 on-base percentage and a .581 slugging percentage. He had 53 strikeouts and 46 walks. Phillies officials like the right-handed power that both players bring. But Hoskins' on-base percentage and his strikeouts-to-walks ratio are more typical of the type of hitter this Phillies front office wants to build around.

As for other prospects who could come up in the near future, Scott Kingery remains a long shot - unless, of course, the Phillies trade Maikel Franco. He is available, but the price is high. Kingery, a second baseman by trade, has been working out at third base in Lehigh Valley just to see if he could be an option if Franco is traded. Kingery still projects long-term as the Phils' second baseman of the future. For now, Cesar Hernandez has dibs on that position. He should be ready to come off the disabled list shortly after the All-Star break. Hernandez could be dealt this winter to make room for Kingery and the team needs to play him so other teams can get a look.

J.P. Crawford's status remains up in the air. The shortstop has had a poor season at Lehigh Valley.

"J.P. has to hit better to come up, for me," Mackanin said.

Catcher Jorge Alfaro will likely come up at some point, but he hasn't torn up the International League.

"He's been hot and cold," Mackanin said. "He's had his good moments and some off moments."

And on defense?

"Mixed results right now," Mackanin said. "He has good days and bad days. He's in the learning process."

Other matters that were discussed in Friday's summit included the pitching picture:

Jerad Eickhoff (back strain) will come off the disabled list and start on Sunday in the final game before the All-Star break.

Vince Velasquez (forearm strain) will continue to throw in the bullpen and make a minor-league rehab start on Thursday. He will be evaluated after that and could return to the rotation soon after. The Phillies still want to try to develop him as a starter.

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