- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A fan unconcerned that the Philadelphia Phillies were playing in Washington walked around the team’s ballpark Tuesday afternoon with a sign that read: “Will play outfield for food.”

After trading two-thirds of their starting outfield, the last-place Phillies need all the help they can get. The five-time NL East champions turned into sellers before the non-waiver trade deadline, sending Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Hunter Pence to San Francisco.

“When you’re in last place, you can try any damn thing,” manager Charlie Manuel told reporters before the opener of a three-game series against the first-place Nationals. “If you want to try something, why not? You don’t have nothing to lose.”

Perhaps more surprising is that no one else was traded. Pitchers Cliff Lee and Joe Blanton, outfielder Juan Pierre and infielder Ty Wigginton garnered interest from other teams, but the cost-cutting Phillies didn’t get the return they wanted.

So, they jettisoned Victorino and Pence for now.

“We’re going to miss who they are and everything like that,” Manuel said. “But also, I think where we are and where we want to go, we’ve got to do some things and we’ve definitely got to try some things to get better.”

The Phillies got reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin for Victorino, who can become a free agent after the season. Philadelphia also gets a player to be named or cash.

Trading the two-time All-Star center fielder made sense because Victorino didn’t fit into Philadelphia’s future plans. He’s making $9.5 million this season and will seek a lucrative long-term deal in free agency.

The Phillies received outfielder Nate Schierholtz, minor league catcher Tommy Joseph and minor league right-handed pitcher Seth Rosin for Pence. They also sent about $500,000 to the Giants, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

Moving Pence helps the Phillies avoid paying the luxury tax this season and possibly next. It also could allow them to target other free agents in the offseason. The two-time All-Star right fielder is making $10.4 million this season and stands to get a raise in arbitration next year.

“Everything is understood,” Pence said. “The Phillies are going in a different direction. We had a great run at it. Now I’m going a different way.”

This was quite the contrast from the way the Phillies handled the trade deadline the last three years. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. acquired Lee in 2009, Roy Oswalt in 2010 and Pence last year.

But these aren’t the same Phillies who won a World Series in 2008, won the NLCS in 2009 and finished with the best record in the majors in 2010 and 2011.

With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, their Nos. 3-4 hitters, missing nearly the entire first half and ace Roy Halladay sidelined two months, the Phillies struggled mightily. They are 17-32 since June 1.

“Absolutely no chance if you would’ve told me at the beginning of the season that on July 31, I’d be traded and Hunter Pence would be traded,” Victorino said on MLB Network. “I still think that team, the Phillies, can turn things around.”

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