Phillies trade bait not named Cole Hamels

The vast majority of trade talk around the Phillies has centered on pitcher Cole Hamels. Truth is though that there are a number of other candidates to be wearing a different uniform before the calendar flips to August.

Number two on the countdown of most talked about trade bait is center fielder Shane Victorino. The main reason Victorino is being made available is because - like Hamels - he's eligible for free agency following the season. Reason number two is that there may be available upgrades available over the winter.

While Victorino is still somewhat of a fan favorite, the shine is wearing off of his star status in Philadephia. Victorino's average stands at .242, the lowest of his career, except for when he first broke in with the Padres and hit .151 in 36 games back in 2003. The man who averaged 13 triples per season over the past three years and led the National League in that category twice, has just two triples this season. On the upside, Victorino has managed to steal 19 bases, tying his number from last season and giving himself a shot at passing his career-high of 37.

It's thought that the pressure of playing in a walk year has gotten to Victorino, who has been sulking and down for much of the season.

A change of scenery may wake him up, or the Phillies could hope that he would accept a below market deal for a couple of seasons to stay in Philadelphia; in other words, they can re-sign him cheaply.

Besides Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino is the most talked about piece of trade bait in the Phillies bait box.
(Photo: Debby Wong/US Presswire)
So, who would be his immediate replacement if one isn't brought in through a trade? Likely, it would be Domonic Brown. Yes, that Domonic Brown. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs outfielder is rehabbing a balky knee in the Gulf Coast League, but has looked most comfortable when he's playing in center field and has done a decent job defensively there. Bringing him up and putting him in center could help to answer some questions about Brown's waning potential.

Another candidate for a ticket out of town plays just to Victorino's left; Hunter Pence. When you look at the numbers, Pence isn't having as bad of a season as it seems, but he certainly doesn't look to be the guy that the Phillies gave up three prime prospects for just a year ago. Of course, keep in mind that he hasn't had much offense around him, so that could be one reason for the down numbers.

The Phillies won't be able to recoup their investment on Pence, but the fact that he is still under team control for another season before hitting free agency at the end of next year, is a plus. He could still bring two average to strong prospects in the right deal and that would make dealing him worth a look.

Ironically, the third trade candidate is to Victorino's right; at least part of the time. Juan Pierre has put up decent enough numbers and shown that he still has enough offense left in his bat and speed left in his legs to warrant consideration. The Phillies likely wouldn't be asking for a huge return and would be happy with one strong prospect and maybe a lower prospect in exchange for Pierre.

Third baseman Placido Polanco is eligible for free agency following the season. That automatically makes him a trade candidate even though the Phillies would be at a loss to fill Polanco's spot on the infield. The system has no young third basemen who are near major league ready, so the Phillies would either have to make a move to get a third baseman or fill the spot during the offseason after limping through the rest of the season with a weak fill-in taking a spot in the lineup.

Pitcher Joe Blanton is also eligible for free agency following the season. Blanton will likely set a career-high in home runs allowed - he's already allowed 20 and his career mark is 30 - and he's got a 4.98 ERA, so don't expect much of anything in exchange for Blanton. It's likely that the Phillies would either need to package Blanton with someone and pay a chunk of his remaining salary or just let him keep giving them whatever innings he can for the rest of the season and exit quietly as a free agent following the season.

The way the Phillies bullpen has performed this season, there aren't many pieces that would attract attention. Not likely that Jonathan Papelbon would be tradeable, because nobody is going to want his remaining $36 million over the next three seasons and it's too early for the Phillies to admit defeat and swallow a chunk of the deal.

If they wanted to, the Phillies could clean house and get a decent stash of young players in exchange, but it's not likely that they'll do that. Instead, look for a deal or two between now and the end of the month and possibly another in August after the non-waiver trade deadline. If Hamels is one of the deals made, rest assured that the organization will still gain a strong influx of fresh, young talent. As for any other deals? Well, it's all a big question mark that is answered only by how much another club might need a specific piece to aid their chances of reaching the postseason.

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