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Phillies reportedly ‘didn’t have a good enough headliner’ to land Byron Buxton


Byron Buxton has been connected to the Phillies. (Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Phillies organizational depth issues were on full display in Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, when Joe Girardi turned to JD Hammer, Matt Moore, Enyel De Los Santos, Damon Jones and Mauricio Llovera following a lengthy rain delay that knocked Aaron Nola out after just four innings.

Ahead of last month’s trade deadline, the lack of depth in the team’s farm system apparently hurt their chances of further upgrading a roster with clear holes on it.

Jon Heyman of Audacy Sports has previously reported on the interest that the Phillies had in Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton in July. However, a new report sheds light on just how interested Dave Dombrowski and company were in the 27-year-old.

Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports that while multiple contenders had interest in Buxton, “the Phillies were by far the strongest suitor” for his services.

So why didn’t a deal get done? Well, seemingly there were too many moving parts. Buxton is just now getting close to returning from a broken left pinky finger, and uncertainty about his availability probably didn’t help the Twins create a market for him. However, Hayes writes that the biggest roadblock that the Phillies faced was that they “didn’t have a good enough headliner to pry Buxton away from the Twins.”

This isn’t a shocking development, especially given that the Phillies seemingly didn’t have any interest in discussing last year’s first-round pick, RHP Mick Abel. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported that while the Phillies had interest in All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel ahead of the July 30 trade deadline, the asking price of Abel pretty much stopped those talks before they got started. It’s unclear whether the Phillies valued Buxton or Kimbrel more, but in either case it appears that Abel was untouchable.

The Phillies sent Spencer Howard to the Texas Rangers as the headliner of the deal that netted them Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy. Seemingly if the Twins had interest in moving Buxton for a package headlined by Howard, that would have taken precedent.

Jayson Stark of The Athletic reported that in the days leading up to the trade deadline, selling teams asked the Phillies about the availability of Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott, in addition to Abel.

A year after Bohm finished in a tie for second in National League Rookie of the Year voting, the Phillies probably weren’t inclined to trade him. Then again, Bohm has just a .662 OPS in 2021 and has -11 defensive runs saved at third base, so we don’t know how valuable he’s viewed as around the league currently.

It will be interesting to see if the Phillies may be willing to considering using Stott in a trade package this offseason, especially if they are players in the shortstop class that could include Trevor Story, Corey Seager and Carlos Correa. It’s hard to know if Stott would be enough to intrigue the Twins in a trade for Buxton, who reportedly declined a contract extension earlier this summer and can become a free agent after the 2022 season.

In the end, though, this is a much bigger issue than Buxton. The Phillies are attempting to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011, but they remain very flawed, both at the major league level and in the minors. It would be one thing to win a weak National League East in 2021. But they’re seemingly a ways away from being able to make a deep postseason run.

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