Yesterday, the 4 PM MLB trade deadline came and went without a single move by the Phillies. Marlon Byrd, the player thought to be the most likely to be dealt, and the one who should have been dealt for at least something, didn’t go anywhere. A.J. Burnett wasn’t traded, and neither were Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels.
Around the league, Jon Lester was traded along with Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes. David Price was traded to the Tigers in a three team deal. John Lackey was sent to the Cardinals, and Martin Prado to the Yankees. The Phillies? Nada.
It’s hard to believe that the Phillies couldn’t find a suitor for any of their players. Byrd is hitting .270/.318/.477 & has the highest OPS on the team this year. Hamels has a 2.55 ERA (also a team best) and is one of the top left-handers in the game. Burnett & Lee have very good reputations, even though their 2014 numbers aren’t too remarkable. Papelbon is having a career year. And yet, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. could not find a trade partner for any of them.
It’s easy to get mad at him for not moving anyone yesterday, especially with quotes like this and this following the deadline. But the blame shouldn’t be on just yesterday itself. It wasn’t that he was incapable of making deals, or that the players weren’t good enough–it was the fact that he’s dished out contracts to these players that aren’t favorable to any potential suitors.
Marlon Byrd is due $8 million in 2015, and has a vesting option for 2016. A.J. Burnett would have likely been a very expensive rental. Cliff Lee is still due a ton of money. Jonathan Papelbon is, well, Jonathan Papelbon. He has a big contract, but he also would only accept a trade to a team if he would be the closer.
In other words, Amaro dug himself a hole.
You could argue that the players the Phillies had to offer weren’t of the quality that a lot of us thought. And that may be true, in the minds of some MLB GMs. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Amaro has quotes saying he “was surprised that teams weren’t more aggressive” in trading for any of his players, and the fact that those players have good stats, but unfavorable contracts.
All in all, Amaro failed at this deadline when he gave out the bad contracts, and his failure to trade some players in previous years. At the time, none of us knew just how bad the contracts would become, but this quote sums it up. He couldn’t even give the players away if he wanted to. For that reason, I think that this will be the last deadline that we will see with Amaro as Phillies GM. He had a chance to really turn the direction of the club around, and he failed to do so. He might have an opportunity to make some moves in August or the offseason–but that’s if he makes it that far. He seems to think he will. But I think it’s time for a change. I think this year should have been his “make or break” year. And unfortunately, I think it was a “break” year. For the sake of the franchise and for all Phillies fans, I hope David Montgomery agrees.