Phillies scouts have been on the ground for weeks gathering "eyeball" information - as opposed to data gathered through analytical means - on players that might help the club at the trade deadline.
That deadline arrives Wednesday at 4 p.m.
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According to sources, the Phillies are working on a number of potential deals that would represent marginal upgrades as opposed to big, headline-grabbing deals. This lines up with views shared publicly by club president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak in recent weeks. Both have indicated that the Phillies are more than one piece away from being considered World Series contenders and for that reason the club will be protective of its top prospects in potential trades.
The Phillies have multiple needs. A bat would be nice. The Phils have kept an eye on the center field market with an eye toward moving Scott Kingery to third base and peddling Maikel Franco. Will that happen? Hard to say.
The Phillies' biggest need remains pitching, both starting and bullpen.
By all indications, the Phils have their eye on second-tier starters. Controllable, upper-tier starters such as Mike Minor of Texas and Matthew Boyd of Detroit come with huge prospect price tags and the Phillies aren't in a hurry to pay those prices even if they like both pitchers. Cincinnati's Tanner Roark has been mentioned. Jordan Lyles of the Pirates could be another possibility. Interestingly, Lyles and Roark will pitch tonight and Tuesday night, respectively, in Cincinnati and the Phillies have had a scout stationed in that city for a few days.
According to a survey of ballpark spies around the country, the Phillies have had a member of their pro scouting department watching the White Sox, Blue Jays, Reds, Padres and Giants in recent days. All of these teams have available relief pitchers.
The White Sox are likely to deal closer Alex Colome. The Blue Jays are likely to move Ken Giles and/or Daniel Hudson. The Reds could move closer Raisel Iglesias and the Padres are listening on Craig Stammen and closer Kirby Yates. The Giants could move Sam Dyson or Will Smith, but they could also hang on to them after their recent surge in the NL wild-card race.
Of the relievers on this list, the one generating the most recent and credible Phillies buzz is Colome. The 30-year-old right-hander had 47 saves with Tampa Bay to lead the American League in 2017. He has 17 saves this season to go with a 0.78 WHIP for the White Sox - and he is under control for next season, a fact that will make him attractive to the Phillies. Colome pitched a perfect ninth inning - on six pitches - in the White Sox's win over Minnesota on Saturday and a Phillies scout was in attendance. Something to keep an eye on? Why not.
Though the Phillies are 6½ games back in the NL East, they are just one game back in an NL wild-card race loaded with teams that have as many flaws as they do. A tweak or two to the pitching staff could help the Phils stick around in the wild-card race.
Of course, they need their existing players to get hot, as well. This season has featured underperformance by a number of key Phillies. A two-month rally in performance would help the team more than anything.
"We're a talented club that has yet to come together all at once," manager Gabe Kapler said Sunday. "We've seen stretches of good play. I believe we have a strong run in us in the second half of the season. I think we're positioned well.
"I maintain that our job is to develop the players that we have in the room. It's not to speculate on what's happening outside (at the trade deadline). I trust 100 percent that our front office is going to do everything they can to improve our club. And the pieces that we have in the room - we all have to get a little bit better, it's coaching staff, it's our hitters, it's our pitchers, our bullpen, everything across the board. We play our baseball, we play to our potential, and we are a strong club."
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