Taylor and Donald Remain Touchable

Jason Donald (Photo: Philly Baseball News)

The Phillies have a number of interesting trade candidates that they could unload and it's looking more and more like not too many of them are untouchable. Philly Baseball News has learned that Jason Donald and Michael Taylor are in fact, touchable at the right price.

Jason Donald and Michael Taylor - two of the highest rated offensive prospects in the Phillies organization - are still on the table for clubs interested in giving up pitching, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark.

Donald's recent surgery to repair a torn meniscus hasn't slowed interest in him and the fact that he should return to Triple-A in the next couple of weeks would give teams plenty of time to continue evaluating him.

While he hasn't put up the best of offensive numbers at Lehigh Valley, Donald remains an attractive target for clubs looking for young infielders. At worst, he should develop into a super-sub who will be able to get on base, steal a bag here and there and give a club above average defense at short and at least average defense at second and third. At best, he can be an everyday infielder in the majors, potentially along the lines of Placido Polanco.

Boston and the Phillies had discussed a deal that would send Donald to the Red Sox for starter Brad Penny, but that potential deal has been put on hold. Even with the injury to Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Red Sox could have pitching to spare with Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden waiting in the wings.

The Red Sox had shown interest in adding a catcher during spring training and had asked about Carlos Ruiz. There was a potential swap of Ruiz for Buchholz in the works, but both sides backed off of the deal. The Phillies now would likely rather deal catcher Lou Marson than Ruiz, preferring to keep Ruiz at the major league level. Plus, Stark lists Marson as untouchable, although that idea has been disputed in the past and it's believed that Marson could be had in the right deal.

As for Michael Taylor, the fact that Stark lists him as bait is surprising. Taylor is widely believed to be as close to untouchable as you can get without having the last name of Drabek. Taylor is a legitimate five-tool player, who is generating the type of excitement that Ryan Howard was when he was coming through the system. While Howard has much more power and was already showing it at the Double-A level (37 home runs at Reading in 2004), Taylor has speed, will hit for a higher average and is a stellar defensive outfielder with a cannon for an arm.

The 23 year old Taylor has moved steadily through the system and will eclipse his numbers from last season [19 HR, 88 RBI, .346 AVG, .412 OBP, 19 SB], which he split between Lakewood and Clearwater. He's already got 13 home runs, 50 RBI, a .340 average, .399 OBP and 11 stolen bases.

Taylor should only be considered touchable if names like Jake Peavy, Roy Halladay or Roy Oswalt are being thrown around. Considering that Peavy doesn't want to pitch in a hitter's park and Halladay and Oswalt aren't likely to be available, Taylor shouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.

Dominic Brown, who is another highly-touted outfielder, much in the mold of Taylor, is also on the DL [broken finger]. Brown would also be attractive to other clubs and has similar skills as Taylor. The injury may bump other clubs to valuing Taylor over Brown at this point, especially considering that Brown is slightly further away from the majors than is Taylor. The theory is that the Phillies could give up one of the two outfielders, since they're both similar players and the Phillies outfield isn't necessarily in need of a quick arrival by the next potential superstar.

Besides Marson, Stark lists pitchers Kyle Drabek, Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco and Antonio Bastardo as untouchable. Drabek and Knapp likely head that list, with Carrasco having fallen slightly and Bastardo having moved closer to untouchable status. In the right deal, it's likely that the Phillies would include either Bastardo or J.A. Happ as part of a package.

The Colorado Rockies are known to covet Happ and it was disclosed earlier this week that the Phillies almost sent Happ and prospects to Colorado for pitcher Jason Marquis and outfielder Ryan Spillbourghs.

Marquis is a free agent at the end of the season, meaning that he could bolt, leaving the Phillies with having given up a strong, young pitcher for a rental arm. Spillbourghs is young and talented and would provide the Phillies with a right-handed bat to bring off the bench, but in time, John Mayberry Jr. could be just as good - or better - than Spillbourghs.


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