While Ruben Amaro has been coy about his offseason plans, even telling Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he has no clear “number one priority” for the offseason, the Phillies GM has made no secret about his desire to upgrade the club.
After trading away several veteran players—most prominently Hunter Pence—the Phillies have both avoided paying the luxury tax this season and freed up salary space for 2013. With a payroll already slated to approach (and perhaps exceed) $160 million to begin the offseason, the Phillies have under $20 million to spend before crossing the luxury tax threshold.
With several holes on the team—the outfield, the bullpen, third-base and someone to fill in for Chase Utley for a month or two—they obviously will be unable to fix everything through free agency. Both their budget and the scarcity of available players at those positions make that impossible. With a number of cheap(er) options for relief help, and the lack of any free agent third-baseman of value on the market, the odds are that the majority of free-agent dollars the Phillies spend this offseason will be spent to address the outfield situation.
However, that does not mean, nor should it mean, that the Phillies will exhaust their entire budget to land the biggest target on the market. Even though their recent history shows they tend to go after the biggest and boldest name on the market—Roy Halladay in 2009, Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee in 2010, Pence in 2011—it’s doubtful they will be going after Josh Hamilton.
It may not make perfect sense, and probably will end up causing more issues than it solves, but the player the Phillies will target this offseason is BJ Upton.