The loss of Andrew McCutchen due to a torn ACL is brutal for the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies won't be able to replicate what he brought to them on a daily basis -- All-Star-caliber play and locker-room leadership -- in this trade market. They won't be able to find a guy that brings his level of defense, plate discipline and pop all wrapped into one.
But for a team desperate to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has no choice but to be scouring the outfield market for an upgrade.
Outfield prospect Adam Haseley was called up from Triple-A. Haseley is probably not ready, though the Phillies would be wise giving him the bulk of the playing time in center field temporarily. If he takes the job and runs with it, it's better for the future of the Phillies. Jay Bruce had a monster night Tuesday in San Diego, but his best role is still as a spot starter against righties and a late-inning weapon off the bench. Starting Bruce every night in a division race doesn't seem like a path to success.
Though the Phillies won't be able to replace McCutchen's production, here are seven players who could help soften the blow of his injury.
Adam Jones: The Phillies had a deal in place to bring Jones to Philadelphia last summer, but he vetoed it to stay with the Baltimore Orioles. Jones would be a perfect fit. From a clubhouse/leadership side, Jones would fill McCutchen's shoes adequately. On the field, Jones could do similar things to what McCutchen was doing. He's having a resurgent year with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and though he probably can't play center field every day anymore, Jones and Bruce would suffice in left for the rest of the season. Jones checks all the boxes. He's a rental, shouldn't cost much prospect-wise and would help a young team in the stretch run of a divisional race.
Yasiel Puig: Puig is a dynamic talent, but he's been rather disappointing for the Cincinnati Reds this season. He's only batting .210 with a .257 OBP. The 11 homers are nice, but he's got a .642 OPS. Could a change of scenery and a divisional race energize Puig? The Reds may try to get more than what he's worth prospect-wise. If the Reds wanted to just move on from Puig and will take whatever they can get, the Phillies could take a shot, but it's unclear how much better he really makes them.
Jarrod Dyson: Dyson would be an ideal target for the Phils. Dyson, 34, is having the best offensive season of his career this year in Arizona. He won't cost much in prospects, can play center, is hitting and will steal a bag whenever you need it. While giving Haseley a bulk of the playing time would be the smart thing, bringing in Dyson would help if Haseley proves he's not ready to play center field every night. Even if Haseley proves he can handle center, Dyson as a late-inning threat on the bases would be a good thing.
Kevin Pillar: Meh. Pillar would be brought in strictly for his defense in center, and would cost them nothing in a trade with the San Francisco Giants. The Phillies would be better off going for a left-field upgrade to platoon with Bruce over just trading for a defense-first center fielder who brings nothing at the plate. But given they can have him for almost nothing, he's a candidate.
Hunter Pence: How about bringing back an old friend? Pence is off to an insane start for a Texas Rangers team that is better than expected. The Rangers would be wise to sell at the deadline, but there's rumors they might hold onto players as they are tied with the Boston Red Sox in the second AL wild-card spot. Pence underwent a swing-change this offseason and boy, has it paid dividends. He has a slash line of .295/.345/.583/.928 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs. He brings World Series pedigree and is only making $2 million. Pence would be a more than welcome addition.
Melky Cabrera: Cabrera is another older player that is still raking. His numbers this year for the Pittsburgh Pirates: .335 AVG/.376 OBP/.843 OPS/4 HR/22 RBI. He can still play either corner outfield spot, won't cost the Phillies much in prospects and would be owed around $1 million.
Derek Dietrich: Another guy having a breakout season who could have been signed this offseason for nothing. Dietrich's numbers this year: .269 AVG/.373 OBP/1.073 OPS/17 HR/37 RBI. That'll play. Dietrich is a rental, but he would probably cost the Phillies the most prospect-wise because of his insane start. If the Phils are serious about contending this year, Dietrich is the best offensive option for them at this deadline. Dietrich is playing mostly second base for the Reds, but he has a lot of experience playing in the outfield and at third base as well. If the Phils traded for him, there could be lineups in which Scott Kingery plays center and Dietrich plays third. Still, Dietrich should be able to occupy left field if they traded for him.
Every single player mentioned above is on an expiring contract. The Phils would be wise to go for players who can help them right now, but not cost too much in terms of prospects. Don't sacrifice the future for a team that has too many holes to fill in one deadline.
By Jack Fritz