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The Phillies have a lot of prospects but very few trade-able ones

On Episode 173 of The Felske Files, host John Stolnis notes that, despite the team’s deep farm system, they’re not going to be able to move most of their top prospects.

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New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

It’s prospect season and, as you’ve probably read, the Phillies have a pretty good farm system on their hands.

Baseball America released their 2018 top 100 prospects list this week, as did ESPN’s Keith Law. MLB Pipeline will be out with their soon, too, as will a plethora of other media outlets. All of them will have at least 4-7 Phillies in their top 100, with a few of those prospects inside the top-50.

J.P. Crawford is at No. 16 in BA’s list, with Sixto Sanchez at 25, Scott Kingery 31, Adonis Medina 84 and Adam Haseley 100. That’s five for B.A. For Law, Crawford is at 10, with Sanchez 23, Kingery 33, left-handed starter JoJo Romero a surprising 59, Jhailyn Ortiz 83 and Jorge Alfaro 98. That’s six for Law.

It’s a pretty impressive list, one many teams would envy. And the Phils, in case you haven’t heard, are in need of some starting pitching help. They’d like a young, controllable starter, like the PiratesGerrit Cole, who was just dealt to the Astros. Tampa’s Chris Archer is reportedly being shopped by Tampa, and Detroit is reportedly listening to offers on Michael Fulmer, too.

It would make sense for the Phillies to flip one or two of these highly-touted prospects for the youthful ace the team so desperately needs. Heck, throw in one of the surplus outfielders (Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera) and second baseman Cesar Hernandez and what team could refuse, right?

Well, the Phillies, for one.

Here’s the thing about the prospects, especially the ones in these top-100 lists. The Phils really can’t trade any of them.

Is J.P. Crawford the team’s best “prospect?” Sure. But he’s also their starting shortstop and a centerpiece of the rebuild. He’s not going anywhere.

For a team that swears you need to “buy the bats and develop the pitching,” there’s no way they can unload one of the best starting pitching prospects in all of baseball. Sixto Sanchez had been compared by some scouts to a young Pedro Martinez. You don’t deal guys like that unless you’re getting five years of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.

Trading Kingery is a possibility, but that means you’ve locked yourself into Cesar Hernandez as the long-term second baseman of this franchise. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, but it’s probably not something the Phils want to decide right now.

And given the PR push the teams has done with Rhys Hoskins, and given the way the fanbase would react, there is no way he’s going anywhere either.

Those are the top-tier prospects. Those are the guys that truly could bring back a stud starting pitcher. And you can’t trade any of them if you’re Matt Klentak.

Could the Phils move some other arms/players? Sure, but how much are you going to get? Although Law has Romero at No. 59 in his top-100, he’s not considered to be as good a pitching prospect as Franklyn Kilome or Adonis Medina, so it’s unlikely he could be the centerpiece of a deal. Nor could Kilome or Medina.

Jorge Alfaro could be a part of a trade, but he wouldn’t headline anything, either. And if you trade Alfaro, you essentially guarantee yourself having Andrew Knapp as your guy for the next 4-5 years. Again, it could be worse, but Alfaro’s ceiling is so much higher.

This is why a trade for a starting pitcher is much less likely than a free agent signing. Not only are there a scant number of starters available on the trade market, the Phillies really need to be adding pieces to their young prospect core, not dealing them away in exchange for other players.

So despite having a farm system most believe is in the top-five or top-10 in Major League Baseball, there really isn’t a lot for the Phils to deal right now.

On this episode of The Felske Files, I talk about all this, whether the Phillies are a #MysteryTeam trying to sign Yu Darvish, the Hall of Fame voting, and the latest on Ryan Howard and his desire to continue playing with Marshall Harris of NBC Sports Philadelphia.