There were indications Tuesday the Phillies were working on a major deal to acquire a starting pitcher in an attempt to save a season that has veered in the wrong direction this month.
The Phillies will need a starting pitcher for Saturday, since they sent Monday's starter Kyle Kendrick back to the minor leagues on Tuesday. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who is with the club in St. Louis, hinted strongly to reporters that the Phillies could acquire a pitcher from outside the organization to make that start.
The club might also need a starter for Sunday now, as well, because the tentative pitcher that day, Jamie Moyer, left his start Tuesday after one inning with what was described as a left elbow strain.
At the same time, they were also discussing a companion trade that would move outfielder Jayson Werth to free up money, open a spot for top prospect Domonic Brown and replenish their prospect supply. The Phillies have talked to multiple teams about Werth, but a source indicated Tuesday night that Tampa Bay appears to head the list of interested teams.
Amaro said Tuesday night the club was "not close" to completing any deal, but he declined to comment about other details of ESPN.com's report.
On the pitching front, the Phillies have discussed deals involving a number of starters. They've talked about Arizona's Dan Haren, Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie and Oakland's Ben Sheets, among others. But there were indications they've spent a lot of time in recent days exploring a trade for Astros ace Roy Oswalt.
Oswalt would have to approve any trade, and there were no signs he'd been approached about waiving his no-trade clause or that he'd been told any deal was close. He is also said to prefer to go to a team in the South or Midwest, so there were no guarantees he would approve a deal to Philadelphia.
Many teams have downplayed the possibility Oswalt would get traded at all, because he is owed more than $7 million for the rest of this year and $16 million next year, in addition to either a $16-million option or $2-million buyout for 2012.
However, the Phillies are looking to trade for a starting pitcher they can control beyond this year. And if they were to move Werth's salary (about $3.5 million for the rest of this year) and the Astros pick up several million dollars of Oswalt's money, it would even out the dollars for the rest of this season.
The Phillies also have focused on top-of-the-rotation starters, and Oswalt is the one starter currently on the market who would best fit that description.
While there was no indication the players in any potential trade have been agreed to, the Phillies have shopped last year's rookie-of-the-year runner-up, J.A. Happ, who is currently pitching in Triple-A to work his way back from a forearm strain.
Werth, meanwhile, has slumped badly over the last month. One club that spoke with the Phillies said the Phillies' efforts to trade him have been "growing" in recent days. Among the clubs thought to be interested in him in addition to Tampa Bay: the Red Sox, Giants and Padres. Werth can become a free agent after this season, and the Phillies appear to have just about given up hope that they can re-sign him
Meanwhile, in Mets land, Minaya is seen talking incoherently into a fisher price telephone.
What's Minaya supposed to do? The Rangers got Lee and Haren has sucked this year. Oswalt is still a capable pitcher but he has an enormous contract the Coupons may not want.
And it's not like the Mets have great trade bait either. Pelfrey has crashed back down to earth big time this past month, Beltran is in between injuries and has a big contract nobody wants, Mets would be crazy to trade Reyes even if he's been struggling as of late. Trade K-Rod - then who closes for the Mets? Maybe they resign Benitez or bring John Franco out of retirement.
Werth is having a down year but a change of scenery would probably help him - especially as a rental for another team. He's basically Beltran without the injuries and enormous contract.