Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Is there a team more important at this year's Major League Baseball trade deadline than the Philadelphia Phillies?
Cliff Lee, Marlon Byrd, A.J. Burnett, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins.
Philadelphia has five players available who legitimately could be difference makers for a team in contention as next Thursday's non-waiver deadline draws near.
And that list does not even include the likes of Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, two Phillies who are seemingly untouchable for whatever reason.
The question has to be asked, though: if the Phillies have all these difference makers, why are they 14 games under .500 and in last place in the National League East?
Anyhow there will be trades made. And it won't only be the Phillies who are doing the dealing. So, let's take a look a five trades that should happen before next Thursday's deadline:
CLIFF LEE TO CARDINALS
Why it should happen: Maybe it's me but doesn't Cliff Lee just reek of the St. Louis Cardinals? We all know St. Louis is going to find a way into the postseason. It always does. But if the Cardinals are going to get themselves back to the World Series they may have to get past a Los Angeles Dodgers team that boasts as deep and impressive a starting staff as there is in baseball. However, an Adam Wainwright/Lee pairing may actually match Clayton Kershaw/Zack Greinke.
Why it won't happen: The biggest reason why Lee may not be moved is the amount of money remaining on his deal not only this year, but next year as well. A team would have to pickup whatever is left of the $25 million from this season, plus $25 million next season and there is still a $12.5 million buyout in 2016. Taking on that kind of money has never been the Cardinals way. Plus, Lee has a limited no-trade clause and the Cards aren't on his list. You can bet your last dollar that he is going to agree to a move the team acquiring him better pony up some more dough in that buyout year. If the Cardinals are going to make a move for a starter think more along the lines of an Ian Kennedy or Jake Peavy.
AJ BURNETT TO PIRATES
Why it should happen: A.J. Burnett loved his time in Pittsburgh. The Pirates also loved him while he was there. How many teams can say that about Burnett? Burnett was the leader for Clint Hurdle's young staff. And in case you haven't noticed those young arms aren't quite progressing the way the Pirates had hoped. Perhaps adding a veteran like Burnett is exactly what the Pirates need, as they try to get back to the playoffs for the second straight year.
Why it won't happen: As much as the Pirates would like to bring Burnett back, it always comes down to money. Pittsburgh is not exactly enamored with his player option for next season. The base salary of the option is just $7.5 million, which doesn't sound too bad, except that it increases depending on the number of starts Burnett makes down the stretch, up to $12.75 million for 32 starts.
TROY TULOWITZKI TO MARINERS
Why it should happen: Take a look at that Mariners lineup. The addition of Kendrys Morales helps, but Robinson Cano needs more than that. Imagine having Cano and Tulowitzki not only play next to one another in the field, but protect each other in the lineup for at least the next six years. The American League is up for grabs and the Mariners have the pitching to compete with anyone. Their offense, though, is downright offensive. Plus, the Mariners are growing tired of shortstop Brad Miller and his .205 average. Tulo is a perfect fit.
Why it won't happen: If Seattle was to make a move like that it would have to include prized pitching prospect Taijuan Walker, someone general manager Jack Zduriencik has adamantly refused to move in the past. Colorado will also likely wait to the offseason to move Tulowitzki in order to get a real bidding war going.
MARLON BYRD TO YANKEES
Why it should happen: Despite the fact that four of the five New York Yankees starting pitchers from Opening Day are on the disabled list with significant injuries, pitching hasn't really been a problem for Joe Girardi's club. The Yankees can't hit. It's almost amazing that they are five games over .500 considering third base has been manned by people named Yangervis Solarte, Zelous Wheeler and Kelly Johnson. Chase Headley was a nice upgrade, but the Yankees need another bopper, especially considering Mark Teixeira seems to fall lame with a different injury everyday. Byrd certainly fits the bill and would be a perfect addition in right field.
Why it won't happen: I'm not exactly sure why this won't happen. Of all the deals mentioned this one could be the one to go down. For one there aren't a whole lot of impact bats available at this deadline. And two, the Yankees seem to be making every move they can to make themselves better. If I was a betting man, I'd bet on this one going down.
BARTOLO COLON TO ORIOLES
Why it should happen: The Baltimore Orioles possess one of the better lineups in baseball. Their pitching staff, though, leaves little to be desired. Point is, if the Orioles want to stay atop the AL East they are going to need another starter. Lee may be out of their price range and the Orioles are not on his list of approved teams. And honestly Bartolo Colon has pitched better this year anyway and nearly threw a perfect game the other day. Also, the Mets are apparently willing to eat approximately $2 million on what remains on Colon's two-year, $20 million contract ($11 million next season).
Why it won't happen: Teams may be put off by Colon's past involvement with PEDs. The Orioles, though, don't figure to be one of those teams considering a big reason why they are in first place is Nelson Cruz. With Tampa's David Price and Lee likely staying put, Colon could be the top pitcher available at the deadline, meaning the Mets could get a little greedy, and rightfully so. They may ask for a little more than maybe the 41-year-old is worth. Plus, it's not the worst thing in the world for the Mets to hang onto Colon for next season given how young their staff figures to be.