According to recent reports, the Phillies have discussed Florida reliever Leo Nunez and Kansas City outfielder Melky Cabrera. Both players are controllable through the 2012 season. (AP Photos)
Yesterday, the Inquirer’s Phil Sheridan said the Phillies must consider that the future is now and sign up for a three-month rental on Carlos Beltran. But as the Phillies sail into the stretch run with the best record in baseball, the July 31 trade deadline could be a chance to firm up the future, where the possible losses of Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge and Jimmy Rollins loom, along with uncertainty in the outfield corners. An ESPN report suggested that scouts are flocking to Clearwater to eyeball the Phillies’ treasure-trove of young talent, which the heavily fortified Phils are in good position to leverage. A Ken Rosenthal piece from last week reaffirmed the Phils would prefer controllable pieces over short-term fixes, which is another reason why Cabrera and Nunez should be considered strong possibilities.
Nobody follows Kansas City, nor does anyone have a clue that Cabrera, 26, is having a career year after failing in a golden opportunity with Atlanta in 2010, where he allegedly became fat, defensive, useless (via Baseball Prospectus). Something must have clicked in Kansas City, where he’s up to a .787 OPS with 12 homers and rates as the seventh-best 3.2 outfield WAR among American Leaguers. His lefty and righty splits aren’t terribly lopsided, so one can see the Beltran-like appeal as someone who could bring balance to the Phils' lineup. Cabrera also meets the criteria of a classic late bloomer, which the Phillies love, and know how to nurture.
On the opposite front, everyone knows what Leo Nunez is about. The 27-year-old Marlins closer has converted 27-of-30 save opportunities and would be a great hedge if they can’t meet Scott Boras’ expectations for Madson. Nunez, like Cabrera, has arbitration eligibility through 2012. So does Royals’ closer Joakim Soria, a two-time All-Star who has converted his last 10 save opportunities after a terrible start.
The best move for the present and future would be Houston outfielder Hunter Pence, who is set for 2014 free agency. Word is the Astros are still listening to offers, but will ask for the sky, as they should.
Transaction: IronPigs reliever Jason Grilli will sign on deal with the Pirates after opting out of his contract wit the Phils. The veteran was 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA. He was injured at the time his opt-out kicked in.