PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Thursday if the July 31 Trade Deadline were Friday, they would be buyers.
But the situation remains fluid.
"No one is running away with it," Amaro said of the National League East and NL Wild Card races. "No one is invincible."
The Phillies last season stood at 37-50 at the All-Star break, 10 games behind the Wild Card leaders and 14 games behind the Nationals in the division. They entered Thursday's series finale against the Nationals 45-47, 6 1/2 games behind the Wild Card leaders and 7 1/2 games behind the Braves in the division. The All-Star break begins following Sunday's game against the White Sox.
"I actually considered us less of a contender last year than we are now," Amaro said. "Weren't we 10, 11 games under .500 last year?"
Fourteen at one point, actually.
"I think if we were 14 [under], we'd be doing the same thing we did last year," he said.
The Phillies traded Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the Trade Deadline, but finished the season 36-24 for the fifth-best record in the league. They actually moved within three games of a Wild Card spot on Sept. 21 before finishing 4-7.
Amaro said he could subtract from the 25-man roster and still compete for the division title or a Wild Card spot. The Phillies technically could replace nearly anybody on their roster with another player in the organization, except closer.
It seems nobody could replace closer Jonathan Papelbon.
"I don't have a legitimate closer candidate," Amaro said.
So the Phillies need Papelbon to compete? Any team that needs a closer already has been connected to Papelbon, including Detroit and Boston.
"As it's constituted right now, yes," Amaro said.
Amaro reiterated the team needs bullpen help, but at what cost? If the Phillies are on the fence about buying or selling, would it make sense to trade a quality prospect or two for a reliever?
"I don't really want to move young talent," Amaro said. "If I have to do it to try to improve the club now, we'll have to figure that out. But with the way our club is and the age, I think it's a young man's game. We'll try to keep as many young assets as we can."
Amaro also said he has the financial flexibility to make a move if needed.
"My bosses have always allowed us to do the sensible thing, if it's something that makes some sense," he said.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.