Eleven days before the non-waiver trade deadline, Matt Klentak and his staff continue to work the phones. The Phillies general manager is under no mandate to make a deal, but said he would if it improves the club now and in the future.
“There has been a lot of dialogue,” Klentak said before Thursday night’s series finale against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. “Truth be told, a lot of those conversations go nowhere. We’ll just continue to take calls and see what may happen. I wouldn’t handicap it at this point. But we’re open-minded to ways to improve the club.”
The Phillies were very active at the trade deadline last year. The deal that sent Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman to Texas for a group of prospects that included Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro and Jake Thompson, may end up being a difference maker for the organization for years to come. Jonathan Papelbon, Ben Revere and Chase Utley were also dealt last summer.
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The Phillies have no player with the value of Hamels or the pedigree of Papelbon or Utley on the trading block this year. However, with a number of teams looking for bullpen and back-end starter help, the Phils could find fits for relievers David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez and starter Jeremy Hellickson. Scouts from contending clubs looked at all of these pitchers on the homestand that concluded Thursday night.
Outfielder Peter Bourjos could be on the move as the Phils look to make room in the outfield for Aaron Altherr. He will come off the disabled list next week and figures to get significant playing time so club officials can weigh his place in the future.
Cody Asche, Andres Blanco and Carlos Ruiz could all be part of deals, as well.
Then again, all could stay.
“When you feel compelled to make a trade, that’s when you make a bad trade,” Klentak said. “We don’t feel the pressure to make one just to make one.
“One of the most important parts of the baseball-operations job is to balance the present with the future. If there are opportunities out there that make sense, and appropriately balance the present and future, we will pursue those. If they don’t work on both fronts, then we won’t. Right now, it’s very exploratory trying to find opportunities.”
Hellickson has drawn interest from Miami and Baltimore (see story). The free-agent-to-be won't be back next year but in the present provides innings and veteran stability to a young rotation. The Phillies have to balance his present contribution with what he could bring in a deal. He did not hurt his trade value with eight innings of one-run, no-walk, eight-K ball against Miami on Wednesday night.
“I take that very seriously,” Klentak said of Hellickson’s role as veteran stabilizer. “The role he has served this year is a very important one. I will add, he’s done an exceptional job with it — not just on the mound, which certainly is the case, but in the clubhouse and working with our young pitchers especially, I think he’s been great. We’re mindful of what his contractual situation is. He’s two months away from free agency. But it’s not the worst thing in the world if Jeremy Hellickson pitches for us for the rest of the year and continues to do exactly what he’s done. We’re open-minded. We can go either way on that. We just have to see what the next 10 days play out.”
In other words, the Phillies would trade Hellickson. But they won’t give him away.