It’s July. The Phillies are in contention. And with that combination comes a major subplot to the drama that unfolds nightly on the field:
The trade deadline.
It’s too early to tell what the Phillies will do, but they have many lines in the water, and if they continue to play well they will do something to improve the club.
“The development of some of our young players is putting us in a position to contend in 2018 and we have to take that seriously,” general manager Matt Klentak said before Tuesday night’s game.
Does that mean the Phillies will be aggressive in filling holes at the deadline?
That depends on the opportunity presented to them.
“Any trade we're going to make is going to cost us some talent,” Klentak said. “We understand that. But we are hopeful that we are just now opening a contention window that's going to last for a long time. Our goal is not to peak one year and then fade the next. Our goal is to open up a window and be good for a long, long time. So, we just have to make sure that whatever trades we're contemplating are appropriately balancing now with the future.
“We're going to pursue a lot of different avenues, maybe offensively and maybe on the pitching side, and balance that against what our current group of players brings and make the appropriate decisions.”
One of the Phillies’ potential trade targets was in the opposing dugout Tuesday night (see story).
The Phillies would love to land Baltimore's Manny Machado as a free agent in the offseason. But if he’d be open to signing a contract extension with the Phils this summer, they'd be aggressive in trying to land him now.
Klentak could not speak specifically about Machado because of baseball’s tampering rules.
Machado was not available for comment.
The Phillies will be July buyers because they played .500 ball over a 42-game stretch against contending teams. Many looked at that stretch as the potential undoing for the team. But the young Phillies prospered and entered Tuesday eight games over .500 and putting pressure on management to make upgrades.
“We identified that 42-game stretch as probably being the most challenging part of our schedule,” Klentak said. “And at the time we said if we can keep our heads above water for those 42 games and then part B is get on a roll in July then that would put us in a good position heading into the end of the month. To the credit of all 25 guys here and our manager and coaches, they absolutely kept their heads above water for 42 games. We finished 21-21 against some really, really good opponents. So now part B comes up, which we kick off tonight. We’ve got to keep playing good ball and put ourselves in a position to potentially do something later in the month. But we're very, very pleased with the way our guys battled. It was a grind and our players were very resilient the whole time.”