Selling season has come early this year.
The Phillies are wallowing through another lost season, sitting with the worst record in the National League at 25-36, 7.5 games out of first place in a very mediocre NL East and, with a Fangraph-calculated 0.5% chance of making the playoffs and a run differential of -50 that is second-worst in the league. It's clear the Phils are going to be sellers for the third straight season.
But has the process already begun?
6 out of the last 7 series Phillies have scouted Red Sox.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) June 9, 2014
Oh boy. Here we go.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo's column on Saturday also had this little nugget in it...
The Phillies have made it known that anyone on their roster is for sale.
Not a lot of context in that statement, but, there you have it.
Now bear in mind, this is just one person's reporting. But given the state of the franchise and the way this year is going, it certainly seems reasonable the Phils are ready to trade anything that isn't nailed down.
But is there a match between the Phillies and Boston? Frank Klose of Philliedelphia.com weighed the possible scenarios and speculated the Red Sox could be interested in center fielder Ben Revere, and the Phils could be looking at one of Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Xander Bogaerts.
First of all, you can cross Bogaerts off your list. The Sox aren't trading him anywhere anytime soon. And Middlebrooks, a third baseman, doesn't seem like a fit either, given the two third base prospects already on the Phils' roster. Sure, they could try and move Cody Asche to left field and Maikel Franco to first base, but what do you do with Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard?
After weighing all the scenarios, I just don't see a match here.
Certainly, Boston needs a center fielder. Their center fielders this year are hitting .190/.285/.287, and their OPS of .572 is the worst in the American League, far below the AL average OPS of .708. Jackie Bradley Jr., who is just 24, has played the most in center field this year and is hitting .203/.286/.294 in 211 PAs, with a wOBA of .264 and an fWAR of 0.0.
But is Ben Revere really an upgrade for Boston? The 26-year-old is hitting .282/.298/.333 with a wOBA of .280 and an fWAR of 0.3, but would be a defensive downgrade from Bradley. Not only that, Bradley has more of a ceiling than Revere, who has likely already reached his. Even if the Phils threw in a bullpen piece, like Jake Diekman or Ken Giles, it's still hard to see why the Red Sox would consider Revere an upgrade.
Marlon Byrd, however, could be more in line with what the Red Sox want. He's hitting .263/.319/.466, good for an OPS of .784 and a wOBA of .341, but has struggled of late, hitting .198/.286/.406 in 119 PAs since May 9. And while Byrd can play center field in a pinch, he played just two games there last year, and just 40 in 2012. However, the Red Sox and Byrd are familiar with each other, with Marlon playing 34 games for Boston two years ago.
And the Red Sox might be motivated to buy now, ahead of the market, in order to get back in the race. Even though their record is 28-35 and they are 10 games out of first in the AL East, they are still just six games back of the wild card, with a payroll of $156 million and probably legitimately feel they have another run left in them.
However, Boston is not an organization of idiots. They do not usually do stupid things, and it seems unlikely they would be willing to give up a promising young player with upside like Bradley for Revere or Byrd, even if they are frustrated with the play of Bradley. They may be more willing to give up Middlebrooks for Revere or Byrd, but that deal doesn't make a lot of sense from the Phils' side.
And of course, a deal with Boston could involve prospects, but Cafardo's tweet indicated the Phillies were scouting Boston's big league club, which, if accurate, seems to indicate Ruben Amaro is looking at players already in the Majors.
At the end of the day, there doesn't seem to be a match here, unless the Red Sox are more down on Bradley than anyone realizes. But regardless if anything happens with Boston, it seems pretty clear the Phillies are motivated to sell this time around, finally realizing that the end is here.