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Jason Michaels Deal in the Works

News out of Boston reports that the Indians and Phillies are trying to work out a trade that will send Jason Michaels to Cleveland in exchange for either one of two relievers, LHP Arthur Rhodes or RHP Rafael Betancourt.  The Indians have already agreed in principle to send their current centerfielder, Coco Crisp, to the Red Sox for reliever Guillermo Mota and prospect Andy Marte (who Jayson Stark recently compared to Chase Utley) but that deal is contingent on the acquisition of a new centerfielder.  Though it has been noted that the Phils and Indians were hoping to complete the deal for Michaels as soon as last night, Cleveland also has interest in signing free agent Jeff DaVanon, formerly of the Angels.  A disclaimer on all this though: the Boston Herald has not named any of its sources in this article so the deal is certainly not definite.

Either reliever would be a nice pickup for the Phils.  Betancourt, a 30 year-old Venezuelan, was 4-3 last season in 67.2 innings with an excellent 4.3 K/BB ratio.  He also had a 2.79 ERA in only his third season in the big leagues.  Arthur Rhodes, who is a bit older at 36, had a 2.08 ERA with 3.6 K/BB ratio for Cleveland last year.  If traded, it would be Rhodes’ fourth team in four years after an amazing 2001 and 2002 with Seattle.

Losing Michaels would hurt but the Phils could certainly afford the loss with Victorino up and coming.  Besides, pitching continues to be the weak point of the team and adding a decent arm to the bullpen could free up Madson to assume a starting role.  I just wonder how a trade would affect Michaels’ recent sentencing to probation and community service with PAL.  But a more pressing question is if this deal would make Pat Gillick retract his statements from last week.  Madson in the rotation and a quality setup man would dramatically improve the club’s prospects.

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE:  Jim Salisbury is saying that the trade will be Michaels for Arthur Rhodes, while the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports it could be either Guillermo Mota, David Riske, or Arthur Rhodes.  If Mota doesn’t pass a physical, the whole three-team deal could be called off.

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