Over the last 24 hours or so, much has transpired in the world of Phillies baseball, in the sense that there are major changes coming to the Philadelphia Nine not seen since Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle where shipped out in the summer of 2006. While the Phillies are in need of some changes if they want to overcome their 2010 struggles, one question sticks out about the rest: Is Jayson Werth’s Time in Philly coming to an end?
According to sources, yes.
Much has been made of the hot and cold season of the hirsute right-fielder, who began his contract season with a blistering .325/.402/.584 line through April, peaking on May 7, when he was hitting .359 with six homers, 24 RBIs and a league-leading 16 doubles in 29 games.
Since then, Werth’s production has fallen off, as he’s hit .245 with seven home runs and 15 doubles in the next 61 games. In that same span, the Phillies have gone from leading the National League east to their current spot in third place, seven games back of the division leading Atlanta Braves.
And given the standings and Werth’s pending free agency, this move is a surprise to no one.
ESPN’s Buster Olney weighed in last night on Twitter, saying that “The Phillies are working very, very aggressively to move Werth,” with Tampa Bay being a possible destination for the right-fielder.
Fellow ESPN baseball scribe Jayson Stark also weighed in on the Werth situation in his own blog, saying that “a source indicated Tuesday night that Tampa Bay appears to head the list of interested teams,” but that the teams were not close to a deal.
Meanwhile, as the Phillies were losing to the St. Louis Cardinals, it was reported that Jamie Moyer would head to the disabled list with a strained elbow suffered in the second inning of his start. Following the news that Kyle Kendrick was sent down to Triple-A, it further ratchets up the Phillies’ need for another starter.
Olney and Stark both posted on Twitter about the possibility of a major trade for a starting pitcher, implying that it would not be a move similar to the Lohse/Blanton moves of ‘07/’08, but rather the likes of Roy Oswalt, as per Stark’s Twitter: “Phillies have talked about lots of starters. But hearing they’ve spent a lot of time exploring an Oswalt deal.”
Olney commented similarly on the possibility of an Oswalt trade, speculating how the Oswalt’s contract situation is conducive to the Phillies and what they are looking to do in 2010 and 2011.
He also mentioned that the Phillies were also talking about Oakland’s Ben Sheets, Arizona’s Dan Haren, and “any of the Rays’ pitchers.”
The most likely (and ideal) situation for the Phillies is that they move Jayson Werth for prospects, which could then be flipped, along with their current stock, to another team for a starting pitcher. Most signs point to Tampa Bay and Houston as the likely suitors.
Following that, the Phillies would likely call up Domonic Brown to replace Werth in right field. Doing that would certainly please the fan base and also give Brown a small taste of The Show before 2011, when he was expected to become a full time starter for the Phils.
This would hopefully give the Phillies a shot of youthful exuberance, along with a rotation that boasted three of the best starters in the National League. And given their penchant for making late season runs, the triumvirate of Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt in Octorber would be enough to frighten any team.
However, it should be noted that Roy Oswalt does have a no-trade clause, and could reject a trade to any team. There has been no indication that he would waive his NTC to play in Philadelphia, or that he was even asked to waive it at this point.
Given what we know about this time of year and how rumors tend to take on a life of their own once they enter the blogosphere, it’s best to take this with a grain of salt, at least for now. But Olney and Stark are fairly well connected in the industry, and when there is smoke, there is usually fire.