Right now, the Phillies' top two options for bettering themselves are through the trade market, and through internal improvement. But with a number of veteran free agents still unsigned, there is an outside chance the team could go that route in order to fill its needs in the rotation, in the bullpen and on the bench.
That said, it sounds like a small chance. Right now, the Phillies feel like their best options for significantly improving the team either lie within the organization or in a trade market that has been slow to develop, although general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, "We have to explore all areas."
Several recognizeable names, including former Brewers ace Ben Sheets and former Expos, Red Sox and Mets star Pedro Martinez, are available. But there is no guarantee Sheets, who had an agreement with the Rangers in February before elbow surgery derailed it, will be ready to pitch late this season, if at all. And Martinez's reported asking price of $5 million, along with questions about his diminished ability and his willingness to pitch in a hitters' park, make him an unpalatable option for the Phillies.
Lefthander Odalis Perez, released by the Nationals after a holdout, posted a 4.34 ERA in 30 starts with the Nationals last year has yet to land somewhere, and several hitters also remain unsigned, including former Met Damion Easley and former superstars Frank Thomas and Jim Edmonds.
One name the Phillies have discussed is veteran Paul Byrd, who posted a 4.60 ERA in 30 starts with the Indians and Red Sox last season. But again, it isn't clear that he would represent an upgrade, particularly after having spent the first few months of the season out of competition.
"The question is whether Paul Byrd is going to be any better than any of the guys that we have -- Rodrigo Lopez, or Carrasco, or Carpenter or Kendrick," Amaro said. "Why would he be any better than those guys? We've brought up the name, we've talked about it. We've talked about almost every guy that might be available, whether it is free agency or what."
Although the Phillies will call up 33-year-old veteran Rodrigo Lopez to start Friday night against the Mets, there is still a chance that you will see top pitching prospect Carlos Carrasco or fellow prospect Andrew Carpenter before the end of the season.
"There's 30 teams out there looking for the same thing," Amaro said. "What guarantees us that we are going to be able to acquire a guy who is even available? What I can guarantee you is that we can bring up somebody from our own system. That, we're allowed to do."