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A too-early MLB trade deadline preview: Teams to watch with players who could be fits for the Phillies

Scott Lauber, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Baseball

PHILADELPHIA — What do you get the team that seems to have it all?

“I think we can always get better,” Bryce Harper said the other day, a few hours before the Phillies won … again. “Right?”

Sure. That’s how Dave Dombrowski sees it. In 30-something years at the wheel of baseball operations for five organizations, he has almost never stood pat. Even as the 2018 Red Sox blazed to 108 wins, he swung July deals for a starting pitcher (Nathan Eovaldi) and a second baseman (Ian Kinsler), both of whom helped Boston win the World Series.

If Dombrowski could add to that team, he almost certainly can find ways to strengthen this one, even as the Phillies zipped into the weekend with a best-in-the-majors 31-14 record.

Another leverage righty would aid a bullpen that ranked in the bottom half of the majors through Thursday with a 4.26 ERA, including Seranthony Domínguez’s 6.60 mark. Domínguez hasn’t commanded his sinker and allowed three homers on his slider.

J.T. Realmuto’s recent three-game absence because of a sore right knee amplified the lack of upper-level catching depth in the organization. Maybe the Phillies decide to add a left-handed bat to the bench. Or, if Brandon Marsh remains unproductive against lefties, they could upgrade the righty-hitting side of what would become a left-field platoon.

 

(Worth noting: The Phillies are roughly $19 million from the $277 million third tier of the luxury tax, which gives them room to maneuver.)

Now, it isn’t even Memorial Day, and the trade deadline isn’t until July 30. It’s a long way from here to there. It feels almost preposterous to be brainstorming potential swaps.

Except that the nose-diving Marlins have already posted a for-sale sign. Two weeks ago, they jettisoned two-time defending batting champion Luis Arráez to the Padres, after which general manager Peter Bendix conceded that Miami is “unlikely to make the playoffs this year.”

The projection systems agree. Fangraphs, for instance, put the Marlins’ playoffs odds at 0.2% on Friday morning, only slightly bleaker than the A’s (0.4%), Nationals (1.0%), and Angels (1.6%). The White Sox’s and Rockies’ chances were in line with Bluto’s Animal House grade-point average: 0.0.

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