Phillies seek pitcher, shop OF Werth

There were indications Tuesday the Philadelphia Phillies were working on a major deal to acquire a starting pitcher in an attempt to save a season that has veered in the wrong direction this month.

The Phillies will need a starting pitcher for Saturday because they sent Monday's starter, Kyle Kendrick, back to the minor leagues on Tuesday.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who is with the club in St. Louis, hinted strongly to reporters that the Phillies could acquire a pitcher from outside the organization to make that start.

The club might need a starter for Sunday now, as well, because the tentative pitcher that day, Jamie Moyer, left his start Tuesday after one inning with what was described as a left elbow strain.

At the same time, the Phillies also were discussing a companion trade that would move outfielder Jayson Werth in order to free up money, open a spot for top prospect Domonic Brown and replenish their prospect supply. The Phillies have talked to multiple teams about Werth, but a source indicated Tuesday night that Tampa Bay appears to head the list of interested teams.

Amaro said Tuesday night the club was "not close" to completing any deal, but he declined to comment about other details of ESPN.com's report.

On the pitching front, the Phillies have discussed deals involving a number of starters. They've talked about Arizona's Dan Haren, Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie and Oakland's Ben Sheets, among others.

But there were indications they've spent a lot of time in recent days exploring a trade for Astros ace Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt would have to approve any trade, and there were no signs that he had been approached about waiving his no-trade clause or that he had been told any deal was close. He also is said to prefer to go to a team in the South or Midwest, so there were no guarantees he would approve a deal to Philadelphia.

Many teams have downplayed the possibility that Oswalt would get traded, because he is owed more than $7 million for the rest of this year and $16 million next year, in addition to either a $16 million option or $2 million buyout for 2012.

However, the Phillies are looking to trade for a starting pitcher they can control beyond this year. And if they were to move Werth's salary (about $3.5 million for the rest of this year) and if the Astros pick up several million dollars of Oswalt's money, it would even out the dollars for the rest of this season.

The Phillies also have focused on top-of-the-rotation starters, and Oswalt is the one starter currently on the market who would best fit that description.

"I view us as buyers and I view us as a team that's still going
to be a contending team, but it depends on the guys that are in
this clubhouse," Amaro told reporters Tuesday. "Listen, our team can get hot as
anybody. But they're not going to be able to just turn the light switch
on and have it happen; they're going to have to work to get

Although there was no indication that the players in any potential trade have been agreed to, the Phillies have shopped last year's Rookie of the Year runner-up, J.A. Happ, who is currently pitching in Triple-A as he works his way back from a forearm strain.

Werth, meanwhile, has slumped badly in the past month. One club that spoke with the Phillies said the Phillies' efforts to trade him have been "growing" in recent days.

Among the clubs thought to be interested in him in addition to Tampa Bay: the Red Sox, Giants and Padres. Werth can become a free agent after this season, and the Phillies appear to have just about given up hope that they can re-sign him.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney contributed to this report.