With injuries hitting the Phillies infield and inconsistency hitting the bullpen and starting rotations, the Phillies figure to be pretty active in the trade market and their focus could come down to a couple of former Phillies. Somewhat ironically, the focus also comes down to two teams, both of which might be able to close a couple of holes for the Phillies by sending some former Phils back to South Philly.
The first team of interest is just a quick trip down I-95. The Baltimore Orioles are going nowhere and are shopping a number of players that could interest the Phillies. Ty Wigginton could help on the infield and Jeremy Guthrie might be the type of middle-rotation starter that the club would look to acquire, but that's not where the Phillies connection comes in to play. Instead, Kevin Millwood could be the starter that the Phillies would ask about bringing back in a deal. Millwood didn't leave Philadelphia on the best of terms when he exited his last game as a Phillie in September of 2004 and when you add to that the fact that he is making $12 million this season and is currently just 2-8 with a 5.22 ERA, Millwood might not be a great fit for the Phillies. Guthrie is much cheaper - $3 million - and has posted a 4.30 ERA in 16 starts for the struggling Baltimore Orioles this season.
Another club that could come into play - the Houston Astros - feature a former Phillies GM at the helm. Ed Wade has made a habit of signing and acquiring former Phillies, with the Astros roster having names like Brett Myers, Pedro Feliz, Michael Bourn and Jason Michaels, Wade is certainly agreeable to bringing his former Phillies players down to Houston. In fact, he even hired former Phillies bench coach, Brad Mills, as the Astros manager. Myers name stands out as a potential addition to the Phillies starting rotation, but like Millwood, Myers certainly didn't leave Philadelphia without some "issues", which would complicate a potential return to the club. Myers contract is somewhat affordable at $5.1 million, but there is also a $2 million buyout or an $8 million option to deal with for Myers.
Of course, Houston's main contribution to the trade market this season will be Roy Oswalt. The veteran right-hander is owed the remainder of his salary for this season, which is $15 million and he's signed for next season at $16 million. Oswalt also carries an option for 2012, which would pay him $16 million or a $2 million buyout. The fact that he's signed long-term would be a plus for any club looking to acquire him, but it would also drive up the cost in terms of the number and type of prospects that it would cost a club to acquire him. Oswalt also carries a big stick with his no-trade clause, which he would have to waive in order for a club to acquire him and it's very possible that he would ask that his 2012 deal be turned from an option into a guaranteed payday.
If Chase Utley or Placido Polanco will miss a bigger chunk of time, reacquiring Feliz would also be an option. The Phillies third baseman from their 2008 and 2009 clubs is getting $4.5 million this season and he would be a good readdition to the roster. Like Millwood and Myers though, Feliz wasn't exactly enamored with the organization when he exited after last season after the Phillies declined to pick up his $5 million option for 2010. An alternative to Feliz would be super-sub Jeff Keppinger, who is making just over $1 million this season, is hitting .274 and can play second, short and third easily and has even taken a turn or two in the outfield and at first base.
Obviously, the biggest potential reunion would be to have Cliff Lee return to the Phillies in a deal with the Seattle Mariners. The real problem there is that re-signing Lee would be difficult for the Phillies to do, considering that Lee was somewhat miffed that he was dealt away in the first place. The situation isn't made any easier by the fact that Seattle has said they will demand at least one top-notch prospect, which in a deal with the Phillies would translate into either Domonic Brown or Jarred Cosart and the Phillies aren't going to be anxious to move either of those young players. Instead, it's more likely that they'll pursue the middle-of-the-rotation types like Guthrie, especially if J.A. Happ doesn't come around from the stiff forearm that has derailed his season.
No matter who the target, or which team he may be on right now, the Phillies are likely to ask about a number of players, both position players and pitchers. They'll do so knowing that they can't - or at least don't want to - take on much payroll or give up many prospects. Those two constraints will make dealing for an impact player difficult, but on the bright side, if they can battle their way through until Happ, Polanco and Utley all return and show that they're healthy, the club could be strong down the stretch.