PHILADELPHIA -- The ripple effect of Guillermo Mota's inability to pass a physical in Cleveland may wind up squashing a proposed deal between the Phillies and Indians.
Because Mota didn't pass a physical -- a standard procedure before a trade can be completed -- the Indians and Red Sox may have to rework a deal that would have sent Coco Crisp, David Riske and Josh Bard to Boston for Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach and Mota.
That in turn, endangers a spinoff deal in which the Indians would have dealt reliever Arthur Rhodes to Philadelphia for Jason Michaels, who would have replaced Crisp. Rhodes went 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 47 games with the Indians, but missed much of the final two months with a knee injury and off-the-field family issues.
A Phillies representative declined to comment, though The Associated Press, citing an unnamed source within the organization, said the teams could still make a trade.
While it may have seemed like a small piece to the larger pie, it would have solidified the Phillies' bullpen, providing an eighth-inning setup man for closer Tom Gordon, and allowing Ryan Madson to move to the starting rotation.
"The key is from the sixth inning on," said Gordon. "Sometimes the toughest innings are the seventh and eighth inning, and we definitely need a guy we can count on. The setup guys are vital. Every team needs a good setup guy and a good closer to be a championship ballclub."
This appears to force the Phillies to continue searching for a reliever, a situation they had hoped to have resolved by now, or by Spring Training at the latest. Manager Charlie Manuel prefers to use Madson as a starter, which should keep the Phillies' focus on a reliever.
Even if Mota, who missed nearly all of May with right elbow inflammation and two weeks of September because of shoulder tendinitis, is out, the deal might not be dead. The Red Sox could substitute righty Manny Delcarmen, who posted a 3.00 ERA in 10 appearances with the Red Sox last season. Acquiring Shoppach and Marte may be too good for Cleveland to let the deal fall through over Mota.
Or perhaps Cleveland will opt to hang onto Riske, allowing them to keep a reliever and deal one to Philadelphia.
In other news, a baseball source confirmed that the Phillies have spoken with Mike Piazza's agent, Dan Lozano, about bringing the 12-time All-Star catcher and Norristown, Pa., native to Philadelphia. The source called the chances of an agreement "remote," and said the discussions were "very, very preliminary." The Yankees reportedly are also weighing the possibility of bringing in Piazza.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.