With a couple outfielders going down too, the Nationals may also be in a position to help there. In fact, that's where the conversation may start, with GM Pat Gillick asking about the likes of Austin Kearns and possibly Ryan Church. Since Church is a left-handed hitter, his value to the Phillies would be less than that of the right-handed hitting Kearns, but the Phillies have admired Church from afar and could fit him into the outfield if need be.
Kearns is having a decidedly sub-par season and will likely not require much of a return for the Nationals to send him elsewhere. The beauty of it is also in the details. Kearns is signed through 2009 with an option for 2010 and the prices aren't all that bad [5 million in 2008, 8 million in '09] and the buyout on the final option year is $1 million to avoid a potential $10 million pitfall. Since the Phillies have made absolutely no effort to re-sign Aaron Rowand, Kearns could stick in right field next season, with Shane Victorino or Michael Bourn shifting to center. Some will say that he's another Pat Burrell, but perhaps a change of scenery will do the trick and a change to a much more hitter friendly home ballpark likely wouldn't hurt. In fact, Kearns is hitting .294 on the road, compared to .210 at home this season, suggesting that playing in spacious RFK Stadium isn't to his liking.
From there, the conversation turns to the bullpen. Jon Rauch or Chad Cordero would be fine pickups for the Phillies and would answer not only short-term issues, but long-term issues as well, since both are under the club's control through next season in Cordero's case and through 2009 in Rauch's case. Cordero, one of the steadier closers in the game, could simply take over that role full-time next season after splitting the duties with Brett Myers this season. That would allow Myers to comfortably go back to starting for the Phillies and greatly strengthen their entire club for 2008 and beyond.
Oh yeah, the price.
Well, it won't be cheap. While Kearns will be almost a throw-in, Rauch and Cordero will be pricey even if Bowden does drop the price. You may need to give up either J.A. Happ or Carlos Carrasco and Michael Bourn to make the deal happen. It's possible that a package of Kearns and Cordero could cost one of the prized pitchers, Bourn [if his injury isn't too severe] and another mid-level prospect like Patrick Overholt. The beauty of it though is that it's not a rental type move. It's a move that provides solid help for this season and beyond and that's exactly what the Phillies need. It's also possible that the Phillies could try to shift the offer slightly to put perhaps Josh Outman in place of Carrasco or Happ and Greg Golson in place of Bourn and then possibly boost the level of the remaining prospect to maybe Jason Jaramillo. After all, at this time of year, prices are always negotiable, right Mr. Bowden?