Philadelphia Phillies' 5 Most Tradeable Assets for the 2013-14 Offseason

Phil KeidelContributor IINovember 1, 2013

Philadelphia Phillies' 5 Most Tradeable Assets for the 2013-14 Offseason

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    Phillies fans dream of another scene at Citizens Bank Park like Boston's recent Fenway triumph.
    Phillies fans dream of another scene at Citizens Bank Park like Boston's recent Fenway triumph.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Philadelphia Phillies fans who watched the Boston Red Sox, American League Eastern Division laughingstocks in 2012, win the 2013 World Series cannot help but think, "Hey, that could be us next year!"

    David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News doesn't think so:

    The Phillies situation is less promising than the Red Sox: First, the guys they are counting on to improve are in their mid-30's while the guys the Red Sox were counting on were in their late-20's. Second, they need to make wise choices in free agency, something that has not been their forte as of late.

    What a wet blanket, right? What do you think Red Sox fans were saying in 2012, anyway? I'll tell you: They were saying that the Sox were finished.

    Andrew Cohen's April 22, 2012 piece in The Atlantic declared last rites over the Red Sox: "Brothers and sisters of Red Sox Nation, it is time. And someone's got to say it. So I come before you today to bury a particularly notable version of our beloved team."

    Cohen was right about 2012, but a year later the Red Sox had won another title.

    So the Phillies can mope around and curse others' luck, or they can get put a proper plan together and do something about the franchise's fortunes.

    Here are five pieces the Phillies could move to turn the team's momentum forward again.

Cliff Lee

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    Nobody wants to see Lee go, but if you are listing tradeable assets Lee is at the top of the list.
    Nobody wants to see Lee go, but if you are listing tradeable assets Lee is at the top of the list.Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    It is not all that rare to state that a team's best player is their most tradeable asset. But it is sort of rare when that player is making $25 million a year.

    In Cliff Lee's case, though, the amount of money he is promised is less of a deterrent to possible trade partners because he only has two more years guaranteed on his contract.

    Lee is still pitching at an elite level. He has not pitched fewer than 200 innings since 2009 and he made the 2013 National League All-Star team.

    In a league where Tim Lincecum is worth $35 million over two years after two straight subpar seasons, Lee might actually be underpaid over the next two years.

    What the Phillies could get for Lee may depend on their willingness to pay some part of his contract. But even if the Phillies refuse to do that, Lee would be an attractive piece to moneyed clubs like the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers to name a few. 

Domonic Brown

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    Is Brown's ceiling higher, or is 2013 the best he will ever be?
    Is Brown's ceiling higher, or is 2013 the best he will ever be?Marc Serota/Getty Images

    The Phillies need to decide, as soon as possible, whether Domonic Brown is the player they saw in 2013 (27 home runs, 83 runs batted in, first All-Star appearance) or whether he is actually still the player who, before 2013, had never hit better than .245 in any major league season.

    If the Phillies believe in Brown and think his ceiling is even higher, then they should hang on to him.

    But if the Phillies are not absolutely convinced of this, now is the time to move Brown because his trade value is not apt to get much higher than it is now.

    Brown is not eligible for arbitration until 2015 and made $500,000.00 last season.

    A young All-Star making so little money is a real commodity in Major League Baseball.

Maikel Franco

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    Maikel Franco's bat earned him a lot of notice in 2013, a season he split between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. Franco won the Phillies' Paul Owens Award for player of the year in the minor leagues.

    Franco's power won him the award, as he posted a .936 OPS and 68 extra-base hits.

    The trouble the Phillies will have with Franco is what to do with him in the field. Franco ended the season playing first base at Reading. The Phillies already have at least $85 million over the next four years sunk into Ryan Howard at first base.

    Franco has also played a fair amount of third base in the minor leagues, but no one will ever confuse Franco with Mike Schmidt from a fielding perspective. And his build, at least when I saw him in Reading in August, was more Pablo Sandoval than David Wright.

    Franco would seem to be nearly irresistible to an American League team that could deploy him as a designated hitter on the days they do not need him in the field.

Jesse Biddle

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    Biddle would draw a lot of interest.
    Biddle would draw a lot of interest.Elsa/Getty Images

    The risk for the Philadelphia Phillies in potentially dealing minor league left-hander Jesse Biddle is that he could become the next Jarred Cosart.

    But then again Biddle could also become the next Vance Worley, Kyle Drabek or Carlos Carrasco.

    Cosart, then, could become a legitimate staff ace or he could flame out.

    Right now, though, his potential is such (10 strikeouts per nine innings at Double-A Reading in 2013) that plenty of teams would make compelling offers for him.

J.P. Crawford

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    Whether the Phillies would even entertain trading J.P. Crawford, their first-round pick in the 2013 amateur draft, has everything to do with what they think Roman Quinn's ceiling is.

    Both Crawford (53 G, 195 AB, .308/.405/.400, 1 HR, 14 SB in 2013) and Quinn (67 G, 260 AB, .238/.323/.346, 5 HR, 32 SB in 2013) play shortstop.

    Jimmy Rollins is no real obstacle to either player, as his deal is set to expire at the end of 2014. By the time Crawford or Quinn is ready to start, Rollins will be a part-time player and/or will have moved on.

    But the Phillies do not need two stud shortstop prospects if trading one of them can address other needs.

    As a final point, I am not advocating trading Maikel Franco, Jesse Biddle or Crawford (or even Quinn for that matter).

    An honest assessment of what the Phillies have to trade that other teams might value, though, compels their inclusion on this list.