We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  Send your questions to the 97.3 ESPN text board at 609-403-0973 or send them to @FrankKlose on Twitter.  Each week on Tuesday afternoon we answer your questions on the air during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.

How many decent Phillies prospects are subjected to Rule 5 plucking? If there's a good amount, you almost have to think about trading some of them (Machado).
~Matt

That's a great question, Matt, but we are not able to answer this just yet.  The Phillies do have a decent amount of prospects in the system, still.  The rules say that a player is eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not placed on the 40-man roster four years signed or drafted after being signed, or five years if under the age of 18.

In November, the Phillies will set their 40-man roster ahead of the draft.  Those not on the 40-man roster and with that length of time in the organization will be eligible for another team to select.

This year we saw the Texas Rangers select Carlos Tocci.  The Phillies liked his abilities to play the outfield, but did not necessarily see his ceiling being high enough to worry about another team selecting him.  Tocci, meanwhile, is not really ready for the major leagues.  He is batting just .080.

The Phillies will protect their top prospects.  Sometimes teams do not need to worry about players who have a couple years of development remaining.

Paul Boye of The Good Phight already did the hard work of listing those who will be eligible for the draft.:

  • Pitchers Enyel De Los Santos, Tom Eshelman, Jacob Waguespack, Edgar Garcia, Garrett Cleavinger, Adonis Medina, McKenzie Mills, and Alejandro Requena
  • Catchers Austin Bossart, Lenin Rodriguez, and Edgar Cabral
  • Infielders Arquimedes Gamboa and Daniel Brito
  • Outfielder Zach Coppola

That is 14 players, which is quite a lot.  Seven of them are on the Phillies Top 30 prospect list, and expect them to be protected.

A couple of them could be traded.  But there is no real sense of urgency to unload players at the deadline, especially since there is plenty of time between now and November to make other moves.

As for Machado, the Orioles probably want players not on this list, such as Sixto Sanchez in addition to some of the other top names on the list like Medina or Gamboa.  That is a pretty steep price to pay for someone like Machado.  But lesser players could be moved in different deals.

If the Phillies do not trade for Manny Machado, who might they realistically get?
~Mike

What the Phillies do at the deadline really depends on how close they are to competition at the end of July.  With the recent funk the Phillies have been in, they now stand at just three games over the .500 mark but remain three games out of first place.  Should the Phillies slip below the .500 mark, I would not expect them to make any big moves.

What the Phillies might do is look for a veteran type that would not cost them a lot but give them a little bit of a boost.  The one name I really like for the Phillies is Mike Moustakas.  The Kansas City Royals re-signed the lefty third baseman to a one-year, $6 million deal after Moustakas found no takers.

The issue with Moustakas was that he had a qualifying offer attached.  That meant that teams acquiring him would need to surrender a draft pick.  The Phillies might have been a match this offseason, but they were already down two picks for Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana.

The Royals almost had to re-sign him to get some value.  The deal allows the Royals to trade Moustakas and recoup the draft pick they did not get when Moustakas did not sign with another team.  Because Moustakas was issued a qualifying offer last year, he cannot be offered one again.  That means there is extra incentive for the Royals to make a deal and the cost could be reasonable.

I like the left-handed bat Moustakas has, which should profile well at Citizens Bank Park.  Additionally, the Royals may wish to take a look at Maikel Franco as part of the deal, since they have no other imminent third baseman in the system.  Perhaps the Royals can get the most out of Franco's talent.  Since they are not expected to contend soon, they have the wherewithal to give him a shot.

The Phillies could then consider re-signing Moustakas to play third in the future, even if Machado joins the Phillies as a shortstop.

Besides that, the Phillies could look for a left-handed starter.  Someone like Danny Duffy or Cole Hamels could help the team next year too, so they might wish to listen if they are dangled in trade this July.  However, they may extend their search into the offseason if they do not feel they are within arm's length of contention.

Why are the Phillies using J.P. Crawford at third base?  Wasn't he just the team's top shortstop prospect and a strong defender?
~Megan

I think that Crawford's use at third base satisfies a few objectives.  For one, the move means that Franco is put permanently on the bench.  Second, the Phillies are trying to find a permanent spot in the lineup for Kingery, and using the frequent shifts, I think they want Kingery to settle in at a position for now.  Finally, Crawford's defense might be better than if the team put Kingery at third base.

As I wrote the other day, the Phillies appear to be sending Franco a message.  The inconsistency of the talented Franco just might mean the club is going to be ready to move on from Franco.   The arrangement could try to light a fire under Franco and he fight his way back into playing more.  But the Phillies simply cannot deal with that inconsistency.

As for Kingery, his bat is finally starting to get going. His batting average remains low, but the Phillies like what they are starting to see from Kingery.  Hopefully the regular playing time at a set position will give him what he needs to get going more regularly in the lineup.

But Crawford is likely to give the Phillies better throws from third base.  Crawford has a strong arm, which of course profiles well at shortstop.  But the longer throws from third base require a little bit more to them.  Crawford's range will also help to his left with Kingery at short and in frequent shifts in which the third baseman almost assumes a shortstop position.

It is not an ideal situation, but the Phillies are trying to put forth the best team possible at the moment with what they have, and subtracting Franco does that at the moment.