Curtis Granderson

Phillies' trade options outside of Manny Machado

Phillies' trade options outside of Manny Machado

There's no player on the trade market who could replicate for the Phillies the impact Manny Machado would make in August and September. 

There's definitely no player who would invigorate the fan base as much.

But if the Dodgers do end up beating the Phillies' offer for the best available player, the Phils will still look to make other upgrades.

That could involve acquiring a solid, non-star player for the left side of the infield, in addition to pitching help.

If the Phils can't add huge run production to their lineup, their focus could shift to players who'd assist in run prevention.

Here are some names to keep in mind:

Royals super-utilityman Whit Merrifield

There has been reported interest from the Phillies in Merrifield, and the two organizations have already scouted each other because of the earlier interest in Mike Moustakas.

Merrifield can play all over the diamond — first, second, third and all three outfield spots. If Maikel Franco is going well, you could play him in the outfield. If Franco is slumping, he could play third base. But acquiring Merrifield would be just as much about the future as this year.

Merrifield doesn't have nearly the raw power of a Machado or a Moustakas, but he's a proven .290-.300 hitter with gap power, speed and defensive versatility. He led the AL in steals (34) last season and has the third-most doubles (30) in the majors this season.

He would not be cheap to acquire. Merrifield is making $570,000 this season and will be inexpensive again in 2019 before his arbitration years begin. All told, Merrifield is under club control through the end of 2022. These are his prime years and he'll be underpaid for them relative to his performance.

Merrifield is not the same caliber player as Machado, but the cost in trade could end up being similar because Machado is a two-month rental and Merrifield comes with 4½ years of team control. That is a major, major difference that might offset the gap in talent between the two players.

Twins 3B/SS/2B Eduardo Escobar

Another name connected to the Phillies. Escobar, 29, is having a career year, hitting .271/.327/.507 for the Twins with a majors-leading 35 doubles, 14 homers and 57 RBI. 

He's been one of the most clutch players in baseball this season, hitting .367 with a 1.112 OPS with runners in scoring position. That's not exactly a sustainable long-term skill, but it's worth mentioning.

The switch-hitting Escobar would be a rental. He's a free agent at season's end. Thus, it would be cheaper to acquire him than Merrifield.

Top-tier relievers

If the Phils don't get Machado, they could instead land a combination of a bat and a bullpen piece to try to match his overall value.

Zach Britton. Jeurys Familia. Brad Hand. Raisel Iglesias. Felipe Vazquez.

Britton would be the cheapest option because he's a free agent after the season. We've known the Phillies have interest in him, and they could still pursue him even if Machado heads out West.

Britton's velocity has returned. He's back to throwing that power sinker in the mid-to-high 90s. His left-handedness would give the Phillies the matchup reliever they need, along with an experienced ninth-inning option that could allow Seranthony Dominguez to be used in a high-leverage role earlier in the game.

If you can't make a move that allows you to comfortably outscore your opponents moving forward, shortening the game is another way to remain in contention.

Baseball has changed. Having upper-echelon relievers in October is more meaningful now than ever before.

Blue Jays pieces

Jim Salisbury reported Monday that as the Phillies await an answer from the Orioles, they're also interested in Blue Jays lefty and former Phillie J.A. Happ.

Acquiring Happ would give the Phils a left-handed starting pitcher, which they haven't had since September 2016. That move could then allow them to move a Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta to the bullpen. Both are high-velocity, strikeout pitchers and both could thrive in a bullpen role. Their velocity and K-rates may even increase.

Imagine the Phillies being up 3-2 with two outs in the sixth inning and their starter at 105 pitches. A combination of Pat Neshek and Velasquez or Pivetta could get you all the way to the ninth. It would also give the Phillies a look at one of those young starting pitchers in that different role to gauge whether it makes the most sense for them long term.

Happ isn't the only Blue Jay to monitor, though. Yangervis Solarte has power and can play every infield position. He also has fair-market club options beyond this year — $5.5 million next season, $8 million the following season.

Curtis Granderson could help, too, as the missing power bat off the bench. Granderson was 0 for 13 heading into the All-Star break, but from June 7 to July 7, he hit .319/.373/.623 with six doubles and five homers.

No, he's not some big-time difference-maker in 2018, but Granderson is a markedly better and more dangerous hitter than the Phillies currently have on the bench.

It's not nearly as sexy of a trade, but acquiring a package of Happ, Granderson and Solarte could improve the Phillies in four different areas: rotation, bullpen, infield and bench.

Josh Donaldson, a much bigger name and more impactful power bat when healthy, is also worth keeping in the back of your mind. Donaldson has been out with a calf injury since Memorial Day but has resumed running and doing baseball activities and could be back by the end of the month. 

He's a free agent after the season as well. The contract status combined with all the time missed over the last two seasons will decrease the price tag. 

But if he's healthy and ready to go, this is a former MVP who hit .282/.377/.524 over the last five seasons with an average of 33 homers and 98 RBI.

More on the Phillies

Phillies-Dodgers observations: Another thrilling rally past MLB leader

Phillies-Dodgers observations: Another thrilling rally past MLB leader

BOX SCORE

The legend of Rhys Hoskins continued to grow Tuesday night. The rookie sensation had two big hits — both on full counts — and drove in four of the Phillies' runs in a come-from-behind, 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies entered the game with the second-worst record in the majors. They have rallied to beat the team with the game's best record two nights in a row. And they've done it on nights when the Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish on the mound.

Not too shabby. Two entertaining wins.

• Hoskins drove in the Phillies' first run with another in a long line of impressive at-bats in the sixth inning. Hoskins has an uncanny ability to remain selective at the plate and force pitchers into counts where they have to throw a fastball. He did it again in this at-bat. There were runners on first and second with one out and the Dodgers up, 2-0. Hoskins laid off a breaking ball from Darvish on 2-2 and that ran the count to 3-2. Hoskins then got a down-and-in fastball — 96 mph — and laced it past third baseman Justin Turner and into left field to drive home Cesar Hernandez, who had reached base on an error.

• An inning after he put the Phillies on the board, Hoskins broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run double against hard-throwing reliever Pedro Baez in the seventh. The Phillies tied the game at 2-2 when Odubel Herrera drew a bases-loaded walk against Baez. That brought up Hoskins for an epic at-bat against Baez. Hoskins saw 10 straight, 95-plus-mph fastballs from Baez and fouled off four of them with the count full. He then unloaded on a heater, sending it to left-center and clearing the bases to give the Phillies a 5-2 lead (see story).

• Hoskins saw 30 pitches in the game. He now has 43 RBIs since his debut on Aug. 10. That's the most in the majors over that span.

• Overshadowed by Hoskins-mania: Aaron Nola pitched seven innings of two-run ball. Phillies starters Nola and Nick Pivetta have allowed just four runs in 13 innings over the first two games of the series. They've kept their team alive until the big inning has arrived.

• Aaron Altherr was a bases-loaded hero on Monday night. (His grand slam against Kershaw accounted for all the Phillies' runs in that game.) He had a chance to do some bases-loaded damage in the sixth inning of this game but grounded into an inning-ending double play. Altherr did contribute a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth. That gave Hector Neris a little breathing room in the ninth.

• Darvish registered his 200th strikeout out the season when he got Freddy Galvis in the sixth. He gave up just one unearned run in 5 1/3 innings of work.

• J.P. Crawford led off the decisive seventh inning with a triple. He scored the tying run, but didn't exactly run the bases well as he failed to tag on a fly ball to Curtis Granderson toward the right-field line.

• Herrera stroked his 40th double of the season to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. That's the second most in the NL behind Colorado's Nolan Arenado, who entered Tuesday night with 42.

• Herrera died on third base in that inning. For a moment, it looked like he might score when Altherr lofted a long, well-hit fly ball to center. The ball sounded like a home run off the bat, but was knocked down by a stiff wind and died in Chris Taylor's glove for the third out.

• More good work in this one by Luis Garcia. He has allowed just one run in his last 17 innings.

• There was a cool scene before the game. The Phillies honored prospects Tom Eshelman and Scott Kingery with the Paul Owens Award for being the top minor leaguers in the organization this year (see story). Ten other previous Owens Award winners were in uniform for the game, including Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley and Phillies first base coach Mickey Morandini. The 10 players in uniform joined Eshelman and Kingery in a group picture before the game.

• Kershaw, Darvish ... the Phillies face another formidable pitcher in lefty Alex Wood (15-3, 2.69) on Wednesday night. Wood was an All-Star in July. Jake Thompson (2-2, 4.46) pitches for the Philllies.

MLB Notes: Dodgers acquire Curtis Granderson from Mets

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MLB Notes: Dodgers acquire Curtis Granderson from Mets

NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired outfielder Curtis Granderson and cash from the New York Mets for a player to be named later or cash.

The teams announced the deal after their games Friday night. The 36-year-old Granderson is hitting .228 with 19 home runs and 52 RBIs this year.

Los Angeles is running away with the NL West. The Dodgers are 86-34 after Friday's win at Detroit . Granderson gives Los Angeles another option for the outfield along with Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson.

Pederson has been struggling quite a bit of late, hitting .149 since the All-Star break. Granderson, like Pederson, offers some power from the left side of the plate.

This is Granderson's fourth team as he started with Tigers then went to Yankees. He signed a $60 million, four-year contract with the Mets before the 2014 season. He hit 95 home runs -- including a grand slam in his final at-bat -- for the Mets in 573 games and was part of the team that won the National League pennant in 2015 (see full story).

Nationals: Scherzer placed on DL with sore neck
SAN DIEGO -- Max Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start Friday night and placed on the 10-day disabled list with a sore neck.

The Washington Nationals turned to left-hander Matt Grace to face the San Diego Padres.

Manager Dusty Baker announced the move about two hours before first pitch.

Scherzer was coming off a 10-strikeout performance against San Francisco.

Grace is 1-0 with a 4.46 ERA. He grew up in the Los Angeles area and played at UCLA.

Scherzer is 12-5 with a 2.25 ERA this season.

Cubs: Lester placed on 10-day DL
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs got an encouraging report on Jon Lester before placing the ace left-hander on the 10-day disabled list on Friday.

Lester was examined by team physician Dr. Stephen Gryzlo after he left Chicago's 13-10 loss to Cincinnati on Thursday in the second inning. He was diagnosed with tightness in his left lat and general shoulder fatigue, but his shoulder and side were deemed structurally sound.

"I think the big thing is just the overall performance was not there," Lester said. "This is something that we tried to manage and get through. It just got to a point where you're doing a disservice to your team by going out there and not being able to perform.

"You feel like you can't help (going on the DL), but at the same time I wasn't helping out there. Let's get this thing right and get back to being myself" (see full story).

Dodgers: Gonzalez activated from DL
DETROIT -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have activated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the disabled list, and he's set to start Friday night against Detroit.

The 35-year-old Gonzalez has missed over two months because of a herniated lumbar disk. He last played for the Dodgers on June 11.

Gonzalez went 6 for 31 with a home run and six RBIs during a nine-game rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Triple-A Oklahoma City.