7/31/2014 8:23 P.M. ET
Amaro says Phils didn't overvalue players at Deadline
GM: Other teams weren't aggressive enough in pursuit of club's players
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. kept a stiff upper lip as he spoke to reporters Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park.
The Phillies are headed to their third consecutive season without a winning record and it is clear they need to make changes to have any shot to win in the future. But with a slew of players available to trade to help those efforts, they didn't make any deals before Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Not disappointed," Amaro said. "More surprised that there wasn't more aggressive action from the other end. We have some pretty good baseball players here."
But there seemed to be a clear difference of opinion there. The Phillies look at a roster with Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd, Antonio Bastardo and others and see players who can help contending teams. That might be true, but other teams looked at those players with age, injury or performance concerns often with high price tags attached.
"Well, I would disagree with that," Amaro said, asked if the Phillies overvalued their own players. "In no scenario were we asking for players that were their top prospects. We were not looking for exorbitant paybacks, so to speak, we were looking for players that would help us, but I think we were very reasonable in the discussions that we had.
"I think one of the most over-coveted elements of baseball are prospects. I don't know how many prospects that have been dealt over the last several years have really come to bite people in the [rear end]."
Amaro said he sensed teams believed the Phillies were desperate to deal and ultimately would cave to their demands.
"I've made it very, very clear that we didn't have any pressure to make deals," he said. "What our goal was to try and make our club better. So if there's a deal to help us get there, we would've done it. There really wasn't a deal we felt comfortable with or a deal that we were going to acquire talent that was compensatory to the talent."
But money was a big issue. Lee is owed $37.5 million following this season, but would make $52.5 million if he pitches 200 innings next year to automatically vest a 2016 club option. (The chances of him being traded before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline seem nonexistent after leaving Thursday's game with a reccurence of a flexor pronator strain in his left elbow.) Papelbon is owed $13 million next season, plus a $13 million club option for 2016 that automatically vests with 55 games finished next season or 100 games finished in 2014-15. Burnett could make as much as $12.75 million next season with a player option.
Amaro said he made it clear to teams they would take on some money to move players.
"Money wasn't going to be an impediment for us," he said. "It was trying to get the right baseball deal. We weren't going to let money impede that. My feeling is if we had an opportunity to improve the club with the type of talent we wanted to get back, then we would have made a move."
So the club will continue to try to make trades before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline. If that does not happen, it will try again in the offseason.
"We're not playing like contenders now; we're hopeful we'll be playing at that level as the season goes on here," Amaro said. "My job is to try to get us to that point. Whether it takes a year, three months, or two years, that's my job and I'll continue to strive to get there."
Amaro is feeling pressure from a frustrated fan base, but he said he feels like he will be in place in the offseason to make those changes.
"Me, personally? Yes," he said.
Has he received assurances from Phillies president David Montgomery?
"I haven't had any discussions," Amaro said.
But what about the organization's talent evaluators and developers? The Phillies have not drafted or developed talent as well as other organizations over the past 10 years and have misidentified talent at the Major League and Minor League levels recently. Names like Delmon Young, Chad Qualls, Brandon Moss, Jason Grilli and others come to mind.
"We evaluate everything all the time and we're all being evaluated," Amaro said, asked if changes could come in those departments. "That's part of the process just like any other organization or company. We're evaluated. My personnel, the personnel that works in the baseball department will also be evaluated."
But can a turnaround happen quickly?
"I don't see a scenario right now where our roster is going to be the same roster in April that it is right now," Amaro said. "It will change. It will need to change because we need to get better. But is it possible? Yes. Whether or not we can get there, we'll see. Our job is to try to put us in a position where we're contenders again. If we have to take a step back to move forward and get there, we'll see how it goes."
Byrd not surprised he wasn't moved at Deadline
WASHINGTON -- Almost everybody in baseball seemed surprised the Phillies could not trade Marlon Byrd before Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"It's been quiet the whole time," he said Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park. "I haven't heard from [general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] or my agents as far as front-running teams that have been close. I wasn't surprised."
Byrd entered Thursday hitting .270 with 20 home runs, 60 RBIs and a .795 OPS. Teams could use a right-handed bat like his. But perhaps some teams backed away from Byrd, 36, because he is owed $8 million next season, plus a potential $8 million more in 2016 if a club option vests based on plate appearances. Byrd also has a limited no-trade clause to four teams, including the Mariners and Royals. He said he would have waived the clause had he been asked.
But now what?
"It goes back to change and figuring out a way to make those wins happen," Byrd said. "Until then, it's going to be a long road. We have the guys who want to win because they know how to win. They've done it before. We still have that core here. We still have a great pitching staff. We still have Chooch [Carlos Ruiz] behind the plate. So anything can happen next year. We'll see what happens with offseason trades and stuff like that."
Byrd still could be traded before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline or in the offseason. So could other veterans like Jonathan Papelbon and A.J. Burnett . (Cliff Lee had been a possibility, but he left Thursday's game in the third inning with a recurrence of a flexor pronator strain in his left elbow.) But what if things remain the same?
"I know one thing this team has to do is be open for change, whatever it is, to get better," Byrd said. "I don't know what it is for guys. For me, the [PED] suspension put me in a position to go to Mexico, but I had to go down there and learn how to play the game again. You have to be dedicated and understand that sometimes there needs to be change in your game, in your lifestyle, wherever it is, to make you better as a player. I knew what I needed and I did it. And it actually worked. We're creatures of habit, 35 or 36 [years old)]. You've done stuff in this game that has made you successful. Not having that success, we have to change.
"Are you willing to do it? If it's a guy in the offseason trying to get back into the game, do you go just work out or do you go play the game? A lot of guys talk about it. But you actually have to do it."
Papelbon doesn't get his wish to be traded
WASHINGTON -- Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon practically begged to be traded to a contender before Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but he did not get his wish.
It was not a surprise. He signed a four-year, $50 million contract before the 2012 season and that contract almost certainly prevented the Phillies from dealing him. He is owed $13 million next season with a $13 million club option that automatically vests based on 55 games finished next season or 100 games finished in 2014-15.
"It's not my decision," Papelbon said, when asked if he wants to stay in Philadelphia. "Whatever happens, happens. I have to do whatever the GM decides to do with me."
Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause, although he said he would have waived it. But he also said he would not have accepted a trade if he were headed to a team that already has a closer. He has no interest in being a setup man.
"I don't set up," he said. "And you should know that."
Even if it meant a chance to win another World Series?
"The chance to win a World Series is with me closing," he said. "Period."
Interestingly, Papelbon said he met recently with Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. about the direction of the team. He said he liked what he heard.
"Ruben had promised me that, going forward, we were still going to compete and, no matter what it took to put a winning product on the field, he was going to do it," Papelbon said. "If he could trade me and the trade was right for both the Phillies and the other ball club, then a trade could happen. But if it wasn't right for the Phillies, he wasn't going to do it. At the same time, he also promised me that we were going to compete year after year and there's no rebuilding here with the Phillies. So that was a big boost for me."
Papelbon acknowledged he did not hear an actual plan from Amaro, nor did he ask for one.
"I don't think Ruben is a person who is just going to say something and then not be able to do it," Papelbon said. "I think he's honest in his decision-making, and what he says he goes out and tries to do it."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.