Since the Philadelphia Phillies won the National League East in 2007, long-term hasn't been in the vocabulary of their fans. Anything less than a World Series win was considered a failure year after year, but it has come time to plan for the future.
Looking at the current Phillies roster, who can they be built around long-term?
Ryan Howard is 32 and has been almost invisible since his return from the DL in early July. Howard is under contract through 2016 with a club option including a $10 million buyout in 2017. He is a power bat in the middle of the Phillies lineup, but at this point in his career, he isn't a player that you build your team around.
Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins used to be considered centerpieces for the Phillies, but that is no longer the case. Utley can't seem to stay healthy for an entire season, and Rollins, although solid in the field, is not the type of hitter that can carry a team.
Fan favorite, Carlos Ruiz, is a free agent after the 2013 season and it is unlikely that the Phillies will re-sign him after that. Ruiz is currently 33 years old and having the best year of his career. The chances of him replicating these numbers (or anywhere near these numbers) is highly unlikely.
Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are still aces, but as for long-term, let's just say they aren't going to be in Philadelphia after their contracts expire in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
The Phillies' long-term options may not be on their current roster.
By trading Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, the Phillies freed up some cap space for the offseason. Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre will be gone after this year, freeing up even more room to add pieces to build the franchise around.
These are five players, two currently on the roster, three who may be in the near future, who the Philadelphia Phillies can build their team around.
The Phillies made it clear that they wanted to build their franchise around Cole Hamels when they signed him to a six-year, $144 million contract extension in July, just days before the trade deadline
Hamels is the centerpiece of the Phillies pitching staff, not Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee.
Hamels is 28 years old and will be 34 when his contract expires with the Phillies. Unless there is an unexpected decrease in his talent, he will be the pitcher that the Phillies build their staff around for the next six years.
Throughout his MLB career, Hamels has shown that he is capable of being the ace of just about any staff in baseball.
Last season, Hamels was 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA, and in 2010, he was 12-11 with an ERA of 3.06 and a career-best 211 strikeouts.
Cole Hamels is the new face of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise.
Josh Hamilton will be the biggest name on the free-agent market in the offseason, and with the Phillies in need of help in the outfield, Hamilton could be a player who the team builds around.
Hamilton is 31, and signing him to a contract of more than four years will be risky, but there is no doubt that Hamilton is a franchise caliber player.
Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Angels, so it isn't outrageous to expect Hamilton to look for around $200 million over six or seven years, and the Phillies are a team that can afford to give him $25 million a year over that span; look at Cliff Lee's contract.
In six years in the MLB, Hamilton is a .305 career hitter and a perennial MVP candidate. He could be the piece that the Phillies build around.
Michael Bourn is a former Phillies player and would be a great player to bring back to Philadelphia.
Bourn is 29, and is the ideal leadoff man that the Phillies so desperately need.
CSNPhilly reported that Bourn could get a contract of $15 million per season for five or six years. That's a lot of money for a guy who doesn't hit many home runs or drive in a whole bunch of runs, but the effect that Bourn can have on the Phillies may be worth it.
This year in Atlanta, Bourn has a career high eight home runs and will set a career high in RBI by the end of the season. He also will steal at least 40 bases a year, which puts him in a great position to score runs.
If the Phillies add Bourn, they can build the rest of their lineup around him in the leadoff spot.
Melky Cabrera is showing this year that he is the type of player that a franchise can build around, and he will be a free agent that the Phillies should seriously consider pursuing.
Cabrera is only 27, and he could sign a five-year deal with the Phillies and give them a great outfielder to build around. A good contract to compare to is Andre Ethier's five-year/$85 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This has been by far Cabrera's best season in the MLB, as he's hitting .352 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI.
This season isn't out of nowhere however. Cabrera hit .305 with 18 home runs and 87 RBI in Kansas City in 2011.
In all likelihood, the Phillies will sign a big-name outfielder in the offseason, and if it's Cabrera, they have a young stud to build their team around.
This may be a bit of a stretch, but the potential is still there for Domonic Brown.
In February, 2010, Baseball America named Brown the 15th rated prospect in all of Major League Baseball.
Brown made his much anticipated debut with the Phillies in 2010 and hit only .210 in 62 at-bats that season. In 2011, Brown his .245 in 56 at-bats.
Brown is only 24, so it's still a bit too early to give up on him completely, and the Phillies will use the remainder of the 2012 season to decide if he is someone that they can, in fact, build their team around.
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