The Philadelphia Phillies are still rebuilding, but according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly the club is “likely” to add another bat to their lineup before spring training begins next month. Philadelphia’s offense was among the worst in the league last year, as Salisbury notes, finishing last in the majors with 610 runs scored while posting a collective .240/.301/.385 slash line.
With a surplus in the starting rotation, GM Matt Klentak has alluded to perhaps dealing one of his arms before the season begins in order to address a need elsewhere on the ball club. Philadelphia reportedly prefers to add a left-handed bat to its lineup and would prefer to look at one-year commitments for an additional veteran player so as not to block its prospects down the road. But that didn’t stop Ryan Lawrence of the Philly Voice from speculating on some potential trade candidates for the Phillies, including Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Braun’s usual position of left field is currently slated to be manned by Howie Kendrick, as Lawrence notes, though Kendrick is able to play around the diamond and the club could surely find meaningful playing time for him. Lawrence adds that large-market Philadelphia has the payroll flexibility to add a contract like Braun’s after significantly parring down their financial commitments in recent seasons. Lawrence suggests that if the Phillies think they can be competitive by 2018, the club could put together a “Hamels-like package” to entice Milwaukee into a deal. He adds that some of the prospects who would be blocked by such a move could be added into the trade package, reasoning “why wait for unknown potential when you can replace it with a sure thing?”
Sending Braun to Philadelphia seems rather unlikely, and there’s a big issue standing in the way in the form of his limited no-trade clause. That subsection of his contract allows him to veto a deal to 23 teams, including the city of brotherly love. There are also plenty of bats, albeit less enticing ones, that remain available in free agency for the simple cost of money instead of money plus prospects. That includes Brandon Moss, Michael Saunders, and Jose Bautista (though Philadelphia is said to be reluctant to surrender its 2nd round pick to sign Bautista). The Phillies do have a rather impressive stable of prospects at their disposal, however, and if there was any motivation to try and deal for Ryan Braun they’d assuredly have enough pieces to get it done.
Lawrence suggests a “Hamels-like” package for Milwaukee’s star outfielder, though that price seems a bit steep for Braun. Additionally, the Phillies probably aren't willing to part with top prospects JP Crawford or Mickey Moniak. The Brewers could help their cause by eating some of Braun’s contract, perhaps absorbing the $18 mil in deferred salary owed to Braun to minimize his commitment to four years and $62 mil. Trying to hypothesize the return on a hypothetical trade is usually a fool’s errand, but taking Philly’s rotation surplus into mind, let’s take a stab at it anyway. Again, any deal along these lines is dependent on Braun’s willingness to void his no-trade clause, as well. Perhaps something along the lines of:
Pick One (Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Cornelius Randolph)
+ Pick One (Zack Eflin, Mark Appel, Ben Lively)
+ Pick One (JoJo Romero, Edgar Garcia, Alberto Tirado)
= Ryan Braun to Philadephia?