The match makes so much sense that it was only a matter of time before the rumors started up. As I mentioned a week ago, Melvin Mora‘s the best available third baseman and the Phillies desperately need one of those.
Now that contract extension talks have broken off between Mora’s agent and the Orioles, the New Jersey Courier-Post reports:
"Mora is believed to be interested in playing with fellow Venezuelan Bobby Abreu. If Mora hopes to be traded this season to Philadelphia, two things might stand in his way. The Phillies currently have three players that can play third base and Abreu would certainly be involved in the trade."
I still don’t know why Mora just didn’t take the money. But as to the quote above, I think two things stand in Mora’s way, and they’re neither of the two listed.
First, the idea that the Phillies have three players that can play third base is technically true, but far from a roadblock. We are talking about David Bell (worst regular in baseball last year), Alex Gonzalez (the 33 year-old with his fifth team in three years), and Abraham Nunez (has topped a .700 OPS once in his career). Not exactly Wright, A-Rod, and Miggy here.
Second, the idea that the Phils could only acquire Mora if they sent Abreu the other way. Huh? Wouldn’t the Orioles prefer someone young and affordable? One of Cole Hamels or Gavin Floyd would seem sufficient for an impending free agent.
The first real issue here is money. According to my Phillies source, the team is stretched at their $92MM payroll and even Mora’s $4MM for ’06 would be pushing it. They just added a mil for David Dellucci too. Maybe spending five mil spread among Ryan Franklin, Gonzalez, and Nunez wasn’t such a bright idea?
The other problem with a Mora-to-Philly deal is that third base, no matter how bleak, may not be the team’s most pressing need. Pat Gillick may want to focus on finding a decent backup for Tom Gordon, as the team really doesn’t have one. If Flash and his questionable elbow go down for any length of time, who will the Phillies turn to? Madson? Need him starting. Rhodes? Bombed in the role.
I suppose if you want to get really crazy, you could cook up a scenario in which the Phils send Abreu and cash to Baltimore (thus freeing up payroll) and receive Mora and a decent reliever in return. I’d say LaTroy Hawkins, but something tells me he wouldn’t thrive in Philly if forced to close games. And would Mora still embrace a trade if he didn’t get to play alongside Abreu?