Jon Heyman: Phillies More Likely to Deal Utley and Young Than Lee or Papelbon

Kyle Scott —  June 24, 2013 — 19 Comments

You? Me?

Jon Heyman has been stexting with Ruben Amaro, and he gets the sense that the Phillies are more likely to trade dreamboat Chase Utley and Michael Young than Cliff Lee or Jonathan Papelbon: [CBS Sports]

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro last week responded to a text seeking an interview with six very direct words.

“Yes. But I’m not trading anyone.”

Word among folks in the know is that the two players Amaro is least inclined to trade are, no surprise, the very two players who will garner the most interest on the trade market. Star starter Cliff Lee and star closer Jonathan Papelbon are deemed by Phillies people as vital, though no one’s quite untouchable in the Phillies’ world.

The reason for their value to the Phillies goes beyond the fact that both are still on top of their game. Just as big a factor is that both pitchers are under contract through at least 2015, so even if the veteran Phillies team can’t get it together this year, there’s always next year or the year after. The Phillies aim to win year after year, so while it’s plausible to see them taking a step back in a year they are struggling to play .500 ball, it’s much less so for a season that hasn’t even been played.

This is what I’ve been saying all along, at least with regard to Lee. He’s under contract for at least two more seasons (with an option in 2016) and, unlike Roy Halladay, he’s shown no signs of slowing down. Quite literally. Here’s his velocity since 2007:

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 8.28.41 PM

via Brooks Baseball

His fastball and sinker (two-seam) are just a hair below their peak (still harder on the fastball than in his Cy Young year in 2008), and his cutter has actually increased in speed. Compare that with Halladay:

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 8.36.55 PM

via Brooks Baseball

If the Phillies are serious about being contenders in 2014 and or 2015, trading Lee wouldn’t make much sense. He’s shown no signs of the type of rapid decline that we saw with Halladay, and he doesn’t rely as much on stuff as he does on location, tempo and the ability to whip up an excellent stream… all things that don’t depend as much on age.

Papelbon? You can make the same argument regarding his contract and effectiveness… but closers are less reliable and, I’d argue, less important than an ace like Lee. Paps is more tradable, in my opinion.

Much more likely to be dealt if the Phillies ultimately decide to trade would be veteran positional stars Chase Utley and Michael Young, who are in the last year of their long-term deals. Young has just over $8 million left on his $16 million 2013 salary, and Utley has about $8 million to go on his $15 million salary.

As hard as it would be – and believe me, I’d spend days in my underwear sobbing and watching this (so, no change) - trading Utley and Young would make much more sense. Young is a one-year rental anyway. And too many injuries for Utley– it’s obvious that he’s never going to be the same player, for prolonged periods, ever again. That hurts you, and it hurts me, but it’s true.

Meanwhile, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors put together his trade candidate leaderboards for both hitters and pitchers. He rates Lee as the number one most valuable pitcher, and Utley and Jimmy Rollins as the sixth and seventh most valuable hitters, respectively.

Kyle Scott

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19 responses to Jon Heyman: Phillies More Likely to Deal Utley and Young Than Lee or Papelbon

  1. Cliff lee doesn’t throw a slider.

    • It’s used extremely rarely. Pitch FX will sometimes confuse a curve and slider. But several scouting reports on Lee mention that he does, occasionally, throw one. But yes, I know it’s not one of his usual pitches.

  2. Better trade Utley before he gets hurt again next week

  3. ThePhillyFlash June 25, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Hmm! I wonder if Ruben still wants to keep Papelbon after he blew yet another save in what wound up being a loss to the Padres last night?

  4. KYLE SCOTT IS THE GREATEST AMERICAN OF ALL TIME June 25, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Please don’t reference Heyman again. He has less credibility than Eskin.

  5. pap sucks

  6. Eh, with the way our bullpen is, I think its just as silly to consider trading Paplbon as it would be trading lee.

    And I guess the big question in all this is whether or not you see them being contenders in a year or two…I cant see that being thecase in all honesty…our relief pitchers all blow, who knows whwt doc is going to be like upon his return, theres only one or two guys who hit on this roster, and our manager has no answers for any of it. Stranger things have happened, but I cant see us being able to make a dent in any of those problems if we dont trade a lee or paplbon, especially since we have no farm system. I mean, I guess a guy like utley has the name and credentials going for him, but his injuries and age have rendered him a shell of his former self…And what are we honestly going to get for a rental player player, like young, other than a case of chewing tobacco? I hate to say it, but this team is fucked.

  7. Crucify Wheels June 25, 2013 at 8:03 am

    How about trade Lee, Paps, Utley and anyone else if it gets you a younger offense that can hit? We’re 26th out of 30 in runs scored per game – having Lee and Paps right now is like tits on a bull. Or are we still counting on Howard to return to 50HR form and carry this geriatric offense? If you think we’re contending in the next two years you are on dope.

  8. Utley, nose & jimmy are cooked;
    No bullpen;
    Michael Martinez;
    Freddy Galvis’s bat;
    Delmon Young;
    1 Tool Ben Revere ;
    Rube

    Things that make me angry

  9. I’m pretty much fine with dealing everyone except Dom Brown at this point.

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