The pool of available hitters shrunk by one Wednesday when the San Francisco Giants acquired Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets for minor-league pitching prospect Zach Wheeler.
The Phillies, who would like to add a hitter before Sunday afternoons trade deadline, had considered Beltran, but were never all that high on acquiring him because he is eligible for free agency after the season and would have cost a premium prospect. The Phillies prefer to spend their trade chips on a player that they can control beyond this season such Houstons Hunter Pence.
The Phils have been aggressive in pursuing Pence and there are indications that they would be willing to include outfielder Domonic Brown in a package for him. The Astros are looking for multiples of top prospects and the Phillies have to determine if they want to pay the price or pursue a different right-handed hitter such as Reed Johnson or Ryan Ludwick. There have been reports that the White Sox have made power-hitting Carlos Quentin available, and he could be another player that interests the Phils. Right now, however, Pence appears to be the Phils top target. The Phils also have not ruled out acquiring a reliever. They covet San Diego right-hander Mike Adams.
I think theyll make a move, a person familiar with the Phillies trade-deadline strategy said. They really want to add a hitter.
Beltrans going to San Francisco makes it more of a sellers market. None other than former Phils general manager Pat Gillick, still the most trusted voice in the organization, acknowledged that on Wednesday.
A club like ours will probably have to be prepared to overpay a little, said Gillick, who is on record as saying the Phils would benefit by the addition of a right-handed hitter.
National League East rival Atlanta is also looking for a bat and is reportedly pursuing Pence, as well.
The public seems split on what the Phillies should do. Some fans are all for giving John Mayberry Jr. a chance to be that right-handed bat. Others are dead-set against trading a high-ceiling prospect like Brown.
Manager Charlie Manuel, who has often expressed his desire to add a hitter, was asked Wednesday about giving some of his unproven players the chance to be regular contributors. While it sounds good to Manuel in theory, he might have a difficult time applying it.
We are in a have-to-win position, he said. It would be tough to turn some guys loose and have them play every day. I dont mind playing them. But there has to be an understanding that if were trying to develop players at the major-league level, its hard to win the World Series.
That, folks, is the key quote if you want a look into Manuels mind-set. He wants to add a proven hitter, one that fits with the Phillies nucleus, which is ripe and getting no younger. If it means sacrificing young talent, so be it.
I see a window with our pitching of two or three years, Manuels said. Thats our solid time to win. We have a real good chance to win the World Series. Its hard for me to look down the road.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org.