Will the Phillies go the Trade Route?

The Phillies committed payroll for Opening Day is $137.17 million today. That gets them three starting pitchers, five everyday players, and two relievers. Likely contract tenders to arbitration eligibles Kyle Kendrick, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Revere, and Antonio Bastardo probably put them close to $12 million more. That's 14 players for about $149 million.

This means the Phillies have about $40 million to spend, before locking in cost-controlled players. Let's assume that today, Dom Brown, Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, Freddy Galvis, Erik Kratz, Cesar Hernandez,  Jake Diekman, and at least two of the young righty relievers (let's assume for argument's sake Rosenberg and De Fratus) make it. All of them will make around $500k, give or take a few bucks. That's $4.5 million. Now tack on $10 million for benefits, and non-25 man roster guys who are on the 40 man roster. That's about $163.5 million. Let's round it to $164 million. The Phillies have about $25 million to spend for a reliever and a starter.

There has been much talk about trading for David Price. I don't see it right now, unless the deal is very creative. Trading for Price will basically require signing an extension that is not unlike the Halladay signing before 2010. He will require a contract that is at least in the same $24 million per year range of Hamels or Lee. That is every remaining dollar under the cap, basically. Trading a young, controllable player like Dom Brown, only saves you $500,000 or so, or not enough to have any money left.

If the Phillies are going to fill any of their holes through trades, there will be creativity involved. While the Howard rumor seemed utterly ridiculous, obviously moving Howard's albatross contract would help the Phillies make room for another big move. Even if they had to eat $50 million of his remaining $80 plus million, it's a substantial help.

With the free agency market seeing some of the major names either off the board, or others like Carlos Beltran not showing interest in Philadelphia, the Phillies very well may be looking to make some trades. What worries me though, is Ruben having to be creative. If he is to fill this team's holes, he will have to be.

Let's be clear though- it would be foolish to think that this team, as is, without a major jolt, could hope to be better than an 85 win team, even if everything goes well. That's not likely. Even if all goes well, it probably won't be enough to get back to October without changes.