The first thing to do in finding a potential trade partner is to identify who the sellers are. Right now, there are eight likely sellers: Arizona, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Washington. Some of those teams may still fancy themselves as being in the race at least for a wild card, but realistically, the odds of any of those teams playing into October are slim and none.
Although Washington has a sizeable lead in the race to have the worst record in baseball, some believe that Arizona will be challenging them before year's end. Some have even hinted that selling off any spare parts and officially giving up on the season would be a plus for Arizona, since finishing with the worst record would give them the first overall pick in the draft next June. The 2010 Draft is seen as Bryce Harper and then all the rest, so having that first pick could well be worth having.
Arizona has pitchers Doug Davis and Jon Garland, who are both in the final year of their contract. Davis turns 34 in September and he's pitched well for Arizona this season, posting a 3.53 ERA in 15 starts. The veteran left-hander generally keeps the ball down, making him attractive for Citizens Bank Park.
Garland hasn't pitched nearly as well for Arizona, but what success he has had this season has come away from Chase Field, where his season ERA is 7.82 in seven starts. On the road, he's a flashy 2.60 and has allowed just two home runs in 45 innings of work. His numbers away from the D'backs friendly confines could make him a dark horse trade candidate.
Davis is owed approximately $5 million for the rest of the season, while Garland is owed about $3.7 million. Garland also carries a mutual option for 2010, which would cost the Phillies at least a million dollars and possibly as much as $2.5 million.
Baltimore has some nice young players and may not be too far from competing. The Phillies got a good look at Jeremy Guthrie when the O's were in town over the weekend, but he's put up numbers opposite of those Garland has compiled. Guthrie, even though he pitched well at Citizens Bank Park, has struggled away from Camden Yards this season, posting a 6.96 ERA outside the Baltimore city limits. Baltimore also has reliever Danys Baez (4-1, 3.22) who could help in the bullpen, which is another area of concern. Would the Orioles part with closer George Sherrill at a reasonable price? It might be worth asking if the Phillies are serious about some relief help. Baez is a free agent at the end of the season, while Sherrill is still arbitration eligible, which would likely crank his price up nicely if Baltimore were looking to trade him.
In Cleveland, things haven't gone as planned this season. If Cleveland decides to put Cliff Lee out there, expect a lot of interest and the Phillies should be one of the clubs asking about him. Lee is signed through this season with a reasonable $8 million option for 2010. His contract status would push his value up, but the Phillies would have the prospects needed to pull off a deal for Lee if Cleveland would be interested. Reliever Matt Herges (2-0, 2.42) has pitched well for Cleveland and likely wouldn't be a high-cost target.
The Kansas City Royals were off to a nice start this season, but are fading fast. Would they give up Gil Meche, who is signed through 2011 at $12 million per season, but also has a no-trade clause? How about right-hander Brian Bannister (5-4, 3.89), who still has three more arbitration battles to endure? It's not at all likely that Bannister will be going anywhere and Meche is a little pricey and might not want to pitch in Philadelphia. The more likely targets from K.C. would be relievers Ron Mahay or Kyle Farnsworth, who would be bullpen additions and aren't the most attractive of pitchers out there.
Oakland is shopping Matt Holliday and doesn't have much to be attracted to as far as veteran pitchers who could help down the stretch. The best to hope for from Oakland would probably be 40 year-old Russ Springer, who appears to be in the waning moments of his career.
Pittsburgh is all about youth these days. Veteran left-handers Paul Maholm (4-4, 4.48) and John Grabow (3-0, 4.22) might help the bullpen. Starter Ian Snell has been shopped, but his numbers this season - 2-7, 5.08 - don't inspire a lot of confidence.
San Diego of course, has Jake Peavy, who is currently on the DL. If you want to aim lower, right-hander Kevin Correia has a 4.26 ERA in 14 starts and has been looking more and more like a top-of-the-rotation type starter for San Diego. But, since he's cheaper than Peavy, he could be in line to take over Peavy's role if the Padres pull the trigger on a blockbuster.
And then, there's Washington. The Nationals appear to have a pretty good hold on the worst overall record in the majors, unless they wind up screwing that up like they have so many other things. As you would expect, the Nationals don't have much pitching to drool over. Left-hander Ron Villone (3-4, 1.77) has pitched surprisingly well out of the bullpen, as has Joe Beimel (0-3, 3.54) and either might be able to help in the Phillies bullpen. Right-hander Julian Tavarez (3-4, 3.81) would add a quality right-hander to the pen, if you can deal with his attitude and shaky disposition.
So, there you have it. A look at some of the names that we're not hearing about in potential trades, but who could potentially be available. As other teams start to fade in the standings, other, perhaps more interesting names might become available. But for now, there isn't an abundance of pitching talent that the Phillies - or other teams for that matter - have to pick from as trade targets.