Jul 052010

July 5 FOXSports.com

Few imagined that the Phillies would be willing to trade one of their most productive players before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

But the Phils’ seven-game homestand before the All-Star break could determine the course of their season — and the future of right fielder Jayson Werth.

The Phillies, five games back in the N.L. East, will face two first-place clubs — the Braves and the Reds. Right-hander Roy Halladay and lefty Cole Hamels will pitch four of the seven games, beginning with Halladay’s start Monday night against Braves righty Derek Lowe.

For now, the Phillies remain buyers. Sources say they have inquired on the Orioles’ Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada, among others, following injuries to second baseman Chase Utley and third baseman Placido Polanco.

Clubs are currently demanding a high price from Philadelphia because they know how desperate the Phillies’ situation is, a source said.

If the Phils remain in contention, they also would pursue a big-name starter, such as Mariners lefty Cliff Lee or Diamondbacks righty Dan Haren.

After opening the season with a $141.9 million payroll, fourth-highest in the majors, the two-time defending National League champions will not concede easily. But if the Phillies somehow fall out of contention, they likely would entertain trading Werth, major-league sources say.

“I could be buying and selling,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Monday, without referencing a specific player.

Werth, 31, is a free agent at the end of the season. The Phillies have made little progress in their efforts to extend his contract. If they made Werth available, he likely would become the most desired hitter on the market — a potential fit for the Red Sox, Rays and numerous other clubs.

The Phillies are far from being ready to “sell” a popular veteran player. But after this week, they could be closer.

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