Heading into the All-Star break, the Philadelphia Phillies — led by first year president Dave Dombrowski — were communicating to pretty much everyone that they were planning to “buy” at this year’s trade deadline. The Phillies had won three straight series against the Padres, Cubs, and Red Sox leading into the break, and were still within striking distance in regards to the NL East title (due to an overall weak division).
Since the Phillies hot run leading into the break, things haven’t exactly gone according to plan.
They did in fact win a four-game series against the pesky Marlins right after the All-Star break, but then stumbled against the Yankees, Braves, and Nationals. Positioned at exactly .500 and still 3.5 games behind the Mets this morning, the only grand conclusion that can be made at the moment is that Dombrowski has to do something.
The Philadelphia Phillies can’t afford to stand pat at this year’s deadline.
With the MLB trade deadline less than six hours away (Friday, July 30 at 4 p.m. ET), the Philadelphia Phillies have yet to make any sort of notable transaction. On the contrary, contending teams like the Dodgers, Rays, Red Sox, and Padres have all been hard at work adding top-tier talent via trades, while “bubble” teams like the Reds, Mariners, and White Sox have all added a few names as well.
Players like Daniel Hudson, Ryan Tepera, Tyler Anderson, and Starling Marte — all notable Phillies trade targets this year — have been dealt to other teams over the past few days.
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Now, with very few players left to be acquired via trade, Dombrowski and the Phillies simply need to make a decision in regards to how they navigate the next few hours. Either buy extremely hard, and make a legitimate push at winning the division, or simply accept that you’re a .500 club and look to sell of a handful of pieces in preparation for the offseason.
There’s a solid argument to be made for each strategy. On one hand, the Phillies are built to “win now” and are just 3.5 games out of first place. On the other side of the discussion, the Phillies haven’t had a winning season since 2011, and appear locked in for another .500-to-below-.500 finish here in 2021. Performing a bit of a “retool” in preparation for an active offseason under Dombrowski makes sense on paper.
Even just shuffling around a few pieces would make more sense for the Phillies when compared to doing nothing.
Whichever route Dombrowski lands on, he does need to pick one. Doing nothing, and holding out hope that his current group of players are good enough to crack the postseason simply doesn’t accomplish anything longterm.