Dave Dombrowksi huddled with reporters at Citizens Bank Park’s Pass and Stow on Saturday afternoon following the formal introduction of first round draft pick Andrew Painter.
The primary topic, of course, was Major League Baseball’s July 30 trade deadline.
The Phillies have gone 4-4 out of the All-Star break and sit four games behind the Mets in the NL East standings ahead of Saturday night’s game with the Braves.
Despite the Phillies’ consistently middling play, Dombrowski expects to add ahead of the deadline, noting they are “fortunate” to be within reach of snapping the organization’s nine-season playoff drought. In fact, he noted the irony of holding preliminary discussions with potential trade partners that currently have a better overall record.
It’s no secret that the Phillies have interest in a wide variety of players ahead of the deadline. Asked about the likelihood of the team getting to the finish line in talks for some of those players, Dombrowski would only promise an aggressive approach.
“Well, that’s a tough one. I can say the likelihood is I know we’ll be aggressive in making it happen,” he said. “We have ownership support in trying to make things happen. They have been very supportive, but you never know if you can get a deal done or not. We’ll find out. There’s a lot of competition for players out there, but we’re going to try.”
So, what will the Phillies look to add?
There’s no shortage of needs. The team expects the injured Zach Eflin to return without missing extended time. Still, the current back-end pairing of Matt Moore and Vince Velasquez is suboptimal, continuing a need for at least one rotation upgrade.
The most obvious area in need of improvement is a bullpen that entered the day with a 4.64 ERA, the game’s ninth-worst mark.
Numerous reports have also linked the Phillies to potential outfield upgrades, including the likes of Starling Marte.
Here’s Dombrowski’s full remarks on how he may look to add:
We’re kind of open to anything. I think it’s incumbent upon us to try and get better. I think one of the things that has become difficult is that, let’s just say we could use, somebody says, an established closer. Well, sounds great, right? Our guys, I think [Ranger] Suárez has done a nice job, [Archie] Bradley has thrown the ball better, so I wouldn’t dispute that statement. However, you also have to realize that there’s very of those type that are out there, and so then the other thing is, well, let’s say that would not take place. And I’m not even saying we’re pursuing that, but, okay, then what’s ‘Plan B’? So, I think you have to be nimble on your feet at this time. You have to have a lot of alternatives, you have to have a lot of choices because if you can’t get this, what makes you better now? And we’re trying to get better.
Some reports connect the Phillies to the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, a big-name player on an expiring deal. Certainly, Dombrowski could be just playing his cards close to the vest, but he was rather direct in stating the team won’t go all-in for a two-month player.
“For a two-month rental player, I do not anticipate we would give up premium prospects,” he said.
Cole Hamels Update
The Phillies, along with a number of other teams, were on hand to watch Cole Hamels throw back on July 16. There remains some interest, but don’t expect a deal in the next day or two — at least not one with the Phillies.
“I think what we have to factor in is what can we do now knowing that Cole, as much as we like him, may not be ready for 30 or 40 days. Because if you sign him, you’re basically — short of him coming back, amping up, and getting hurt — you’re basically telling him you’re giving him a spot in the rotation,” Dombrowski said. “And I don’t know if we’re in a spot right now I can 100% say that. Five days or six days, I may be able to say that.”
Another team may commit to Hamels sooner, but if the Phillies fail to fortify their rotation ahead of the deadline, perhaps he finds himself back on the mound at Citizens Bank Park late next month.
Everybody loves a reunion, right?