4 Potential Phillies Trade Targets: Cubs Edition

Phillies, Dombrowski
Philadelphia Phillies baseball team President of Baseball Operations David Dombrowski takes questions from the media after signing Aaron Nola to a new seven-year contract, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Phillies have been the best team in Major League Baseball for almost the entire season. Since May 1, they and the Cubs have gone in completely different directions. Since the calendar turned to the fifth month, Philadelphia is the only club in the majors who has yet to record 20 losses.

Chicago’s north-siders on the other hand have the worst record in the National League over these past two months and have fallen from second-place in their division to dead-last.

Now that we are in July everyone across the league is talking All-Star voting, but the top contenders have their minds set on the milestone that comes a few weeks later – the trade deadline. With the teams in opposite positions in their division, they will likely be on opposite sides of the negotiating table leading up to July 30.

While you watch the Phillies take on the Cubs this afternoon, here are some players the Phillies could target as a strong fit for their push towards another World Series appearance.

Philadelphia Phillies’ David Dahl, right, celebrates after his two-run single during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, June 23, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Outfield help

Despite having a strong veteran in Nick Castellanos, and promising young talent in Brandon Marsh and Johan Rojas, Philadelphia finds itself lacking when it comes to offensive production from their outfielders. Marsh has been great against right-handed hitting, but in an ideal world could use a platoon partner. Castellanos’ overall numbers might not reflect his career norms, but he has been hot over the last few months – especially in the month of June.

He is a stalwart and will be the Phillies right-fielder, regardless of whether he is hot or cold at that time. They have tried different options in center and left, but nothing has clicked for an extended period of time. This is truly the only place Philadelphia might consider targeting, just as they were rumored to be doing in free agency but ultimately ran back the same crew they used last season (with a minor addition of Whit Merrifield). Let’s see who the Cubs have who could fit that mold:

MLB Cody Bellinger Phillies trade target
Chicago Cubs’ Cody Bellinger drives in two runs with a single in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Saturday, July 22, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

Cody Bellinger

Bellinger was one of the biggest names on the free agent market this past season after a bounce-back season in 2023. He returned to the Cubs on a three-year, $80 million deal with an opt out after each season. The former rookie of the year and MVP is having another good season, but may not be worth the $30 million he would be in line for next season ($20 million in 2026).

As a Scott Boras client, he is likely to opt out a look for another longer-term contract. So any team that were to acquire the former Silver Slugger and Gold Glover would be responsible for roughly $9 million and would likely only be receiving a rental piece, barring any other surprise additions to trade terms.

With that value and his production this season – .273/.333/.426, 35 R, 9 HR, 36 RBI – he likely would not cost you a top 10 prospect, but the Cubs are trying to move forward and compete in the near future so would likely request talent that is near major league ready.

Philadelphia could include Kody Clemens in a deal to be able to provide a lesser prospect, maybe someone like Carlos De La Cruz (Phillies No. 12 ranked prospect). If they were willing to take on the remainder of Bellinger’s contract, adding Johan Rojas in place of a prospect or Clemens, and adding a lower-level prospect like Kehden Hettiger (catcher, No. 21 ranked prospect) could get the job done.

Assuming he opts out after the year, Bellinger for Clemens and De La Cruz likely gets it done, with Hettiger available as a sweetener, if needed.

Ian Happ

Happ is a switch-hitter, better suited in the corners. Philadelphia could use Marsh in center and put the Cubs fan-favorite in left without platoons. Happ has also played a bit of center in the past and could be an option depending on the need of the game. The back-to-back gold glove winner would also be an upgrade to an already strong outfield defense.

The veteran is signed through 2026, averaging $20 million each of the next two seasons. Because of this, any club wishing to acquire his services would have to be willing to part with a higher rated prospect to start – and maybe a few.

Philadelphia could package De La Cruz with a starting pitcher in Griff McGarry (Phillies No. 10 prospect), catcher Caleb Ricketts (Phillies No. 20 prospect) who is 24 and already in Double-A, and a young pitcher like Gunner Mayer (currently Single-A). They would lock up their left-fielder for as long as they have their right-fielder, and could put Marsh and Rojas in center. Another option would be including Rojas and giving up lesser prospects since you have a few years of team control in Happ.

Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Matt Strahm throws during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Bullpen Options

This is a little different. Philadelphia’s bullpen has been stellar all season. The club doesn’t need bullpen help, but a team can never have too much pitching. With bullpen’s often being volatile, another arm or two wouldn’t hurt any of the top contenders. Here’s who Philadelphia could target from Chicago:

Drew Smyly

Smyly has filled a lot of roles over his career – starter, long-relief, and high-leverage reliever. Being a starter two seasons ago, and splitting time in the rotation just last season, Smyly could easily fit any role that Philadelphia needed. His 3.54 ERA is solid, not great, but would add depth to an already strong unit. Plus, he’s already spent time with Philadelphia. Smyly joined the Phillies as a free agent in July of 2019, making 12 starts for the Fightin’ Phils. Smyly would be owed less than $5 million for the rest of 2023, and has a mutual option for $10 million next year that would only be a factor if he performed very well the rest of the way.

Tyson Miller

Miller has done a bit of jumping around in his young career, but he has certainly been a bright spot for Chicago this season. After debuting with the Cubs in 2020, Miller bounced around to five other teams before being designated for assignment by the Mariners. He then found himself traded back to Chicago on May 14. Since then, Miller has been lights-out. In 17 appearances, he has a 1.93 ERA, 17 strikeouts, and a minuscule 0.750 WHIP. Great results from someone who came into the season with just 31 big-league innings under his belt.

Either option would likely cost roughly the same. I think Infielder Robert Moore (Phillies No. 25 prospect) and Double-A pitcher Andrew Baker could get the job done for either player and add to an already deep Chicago prospect pool.

Regardless of what the Phillies do, the Cubs would be a great fit as a trade partner. Keep your eyes on these players the rest of the game.