The Phillies are well into their annual midseason quest to land a starting pitcher.

C.C. Sabathia, Greg Maddux, Roy Oswalt and Erik Bedard are some of the names being tossed around.

Any of them could help.

Teams, however, just don't push a button and make a deal. No-trade clauses must be waived. Salaries must be fit into payroll structures. The hope of winning now must be weighed against the risk of mortgaging potential stars.

First and foremost, though, a team seeking a commodity must have the wherewithal to acquire it.

There lies the rub for the Phillies. Their farm system is thin in the kind of high-upside, almost-major-league-ready talent that other clubs desire when in a selling mode.

So, the Phils may have to include a big-league player in a package for a pitcher. The outfield is the one area where the Phils have depth. It's also where they have a young, inexpensive, productive player that other teams have coveted for a couple of years: Shane Victorino.

"I know I could be a chip," the 27-year-old outfielder said. "My name has come up ever since I had that good year in triple A [in 2005], and I understand this year it might be different because the farm system is not the deepest.

"In some ways, it's a compliment when you hear other teams might want you. But rumors are rumors, and I can't worry about it. I really don't want to leave this team. I love the chemistry and the guys."

Victorino could be attractive because he is under control for three more seasons. He will be eligible for salary arbitration for the first time this winter.

Outfielder Jayson Werth, who can't be a free agent until after 2009, could also be a trade chip.

"Obviously, when you look at the team, the only depth is in the outfield," he said. "If that's what they're looking to do to make the team better, I understand. This game is a business.

"I just want to play. Wherever I'm given an opportunity, I'll be giving 100 percent."

Werth acknowledged the team's need for another pitcher.

"The pitching is doing great, but if you want to get to the next level and win a World Series, that's usually what teams do," he said. "It wouldn't be surprising. Last year, we got Lohse."

Righthander Kyle Lohse, who arrived from Cincinnati in a July 30 deal, proved to be one of the best midseason acquisitions by any team in 2007. He made 11 starts for the Phils, and the team won nine.

The Phils could look to make another midlevel pitching acquisition, such as Lohse. Why? There are two reasons: (1) They have had good success going that route with Lohse and Jamie Moyer in 2006, and (2) They might not have enough advanced prospects in their system to get a top pitcher such as Sabathia, last year's Cy Young Award winner in the American League.

That doesn't mean the Phils don't covet Sabathia. He could be the piece that helps them get to the World Series. However, he also could be the piece that helps get the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston, the New York Yankees, the Chicago Cubs or Milwaukee to the Series. The Dodgers, Red Sox and Yankees all have deeper farm systems than the Phillies, and the Cubs, who haven't won a World Series in 100 years, might be willing to empty the cupboard for Sabathia, especially with ace Carlos Zambrano suffering a recent shoulder strain.

Any team that pursues Sabathia must be cognizant that he will be a two-month rental. He is due to be a free agent at the end of the season and will seek a multiyear deal in the neighborhood of $120 million. Only a contract extension in that range would keep him off the market.

The Phillie most teams want is double A pitcher Carlos Carrasco. The Phils would surely have to surrender him, and possibly Victorino, in a deal for Sabathia.

Would they do it? Only team officials know.

"We have to balance going for it now versus the future," assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said. "We have to keep in mind that this is not a club that is all-or-nothing this year. We have to be careful about absolutely wiping out the best young players in the system to do it now. That is not to say we don't want to win now and won't move good players if we feel the deal is right. It's just something we're looking at carefully."

Phils officials said Carrasco, a 21-year-old righthander, was close to being ready to contribute in the majors. Catcher Lou Marson, also at double A, is drawing attention from other clubs. Dealing him would be a tough call given the state of catching in the system. He projects as a No. 1 catcher and could be in Philadelphia in a year or so.

Outfielder Greg Golson, currently sidelined by a wrist injury, and second baseman Adrian Cardenas might be the Phils' top minor-league trade chips, at least among advanced prospects. Cardenas swings a good bat but is blocked by Chase Utley, and a move to the outfield could be in his future.

The Phils might be more open to moving prospects if they got back a pitcher they could control beyond this season. Bedard, the Seattle lefty, who won't be a free agent until after 2009, fits that description, as does Oakland's Rich Harden. Houston's Roy Oswalt, who is signed through 2011 but at a cost of $47 million, could be worth watching. The Astros had a high-ranking scout in Philadelphia on Sunday.

While a rental player might not be totally to the Phils' liking, they could take a run at Maddux, who will be owed about $3.3 million at the July 31 trade deadline. Maddux would not carry an exorbitant price tag. However, he has a no-trade clause, and it remains to be seen if he'd waive it to come to the East Coast. Maybe playing privileges at Pine Valley would help.