Free agents will still be interested in coming to play for the Philadelphia Phillies for this offseason and many more in the years to come.
It's important that we understand that fact after the way the 2012 season went for those Phils because on the surface, this is a team in decline. They're a wily group of veterans on the wrong side of 30 with a long history of injury concerns.
But free agents are still going to want to come here.
That's because, and especially when this team is going well, Philadelphia is a prime town for baseball. There is a certain energy and atmosphere that the fan base creates here and players love it. Of course, having money to spend and a slew of All-Stars already on your roster won't hurt either.
So with the offseason just about ready to get under way, let's take a look at 25 free agents who should have some level of interest in joining the Phillies this winter.
The Phillies have a hole to fill in center field this winter, and while there exists a familiar option on the free agent market, don't expect to see Shane Victorino patrolling Citizens Bank Park with regularity once again.
The thought is that the Phillies want to move in a direction, but there is little doubt that Victorino would welcome a return to Philly.
Victorino was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline for a package of Josh Lindblom, Ethan Martin and Stefan Jarrin. If the Phillies can't fill their center field gap with a new face, a return of Victorino can't be ruled out.
An offseason procedure to correct his thoracic outlet symptoms won't stop teams from progressively pursuing right-handed reliever Mike Adams this winter, and the Phillies are expected to be among them.
A young bullpen was a large concern for the Phillies in 2012, and adding at least one experienced arm to pitch the eighth inning could go a long way for this club. There is an argument to be made that Adams is the best setup man available.
Would he want to come to the Phillies? I believe so. He spent the last year and a half playing his home games in a hitter-friendly park in Texas, and while Citizens Bank Park is no pitcher's paradise, it is actually a much more neutral site.
Adams would slot nicely into the Phillies bullpen between closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning and the slew of young arms that would man the seventh and down.
From a Phillies perspective, Nick Swisher is an interesting name. He is a lot of the things that the club needs this winter and a lot of things that they don't.
One thing that I personally think this team needs is a little bit of energy and excitement and Swisher would certainly bring that. He is a well respected member of the New York Yankees clubhouse and would slot in nicely among the Phils veterans.
He is also a switch-hitter with power from the right side of the plate and a capable defensive right fielder, a pair of things that the Phillies could use.
What the Phillies don't need is someone who is going to strike out a lot behind Ryan Howard.
Would Swisher have interest in joining the Phillies? I think so. Would the Phillies have interest in bringing him aboard? I don't think he is very high on their list of priorities.
Maicier Izturis' interest in the Phillies may hinge on how much playing time they would be willing to commit to him, and I don't think it would be all that much.
While some have speculated that the Phils could insider the former Los Angeles Angels infield for their third base void, that does not seem like a realistic possibility at this time.
The Phillies' thought process seems to be that, if they can't upgrade at the position offensively, they'll take the defense that Freddy Galvis would provide.
If the Phillies have any interest in getting back to the World Series, they'll take a page (or two) out of the San Francisco Giants' playbook, one of which is a strong bullpen.
That doesn't mean that they need to go out and splurge on multiple free agent relievers this winter. Along with Jonathan Papelbon, they have plenty of young arms to build a very good bullpen.
They could use a veteran setup man and Jeremy Affeldt fits that role well. The lefty was excellent against both left and right-handed hitters this season and would provide a solid bridge to the ninth inning.\
If he isn't able to re-up with the Giants, it shouldn't be unreasonable to expect him to want to pitch for a contender with a shot at the World Series.
Do you think the Drew family gathers from time to time to say nasty things about the Phillies?
I'm kidding, of course, but you do have to wonder what kind of effect the Phillies' past negotiations with J.D. Drew (and agent Scott Boras) could have had on any future dealings with his brother and free agent, Stephen Drew.
The Oakland Athletics turned down the infielder's option recently, allowing him to become a free agent. If he wants to join the Phillies, it will likely be as a backup plan for the club's situation at third base.
Drew is probably going to be looking for a one-year deal to show that he can play well and be healthy for a full season. The Phils could give him that opportunity if he is willing to play third base.
Jeff Keppinger could be a nice infield option for the Phillies. He hits left-handed pitching very well and the current starting third baseman, likely to be Freddy Galvis, isn't exactly known for his offensive prowess.
Keppinger is a solid defender and has always made good contact, but if his price escalates and he looks for more playing time elsewhere, the Phillies will probably just go with Kevin Frandsen.
If the San Francisco Giants showed the baseball world anything this season, it's that it is important to be deep in two areas of your club—the bench and the bullpen.
One of the players that helped give them a deep bench was utility infielder Ryan Theriot. The Phillies may not be looking for much in terms of utility men given Freddy Galvis' presence, but Theriot would help them out insofar as to give them options.
Let's face it. Chase Utley isn't going to play 162 games and Galvis doesn't offer much offensively. Having a guy like Theriot, who can give you a quality at-bat and play good defense at multiple positions, is a good thing.
The Los Angeles Angels find themselves in quite a situation with Dan Haren. They hold an option to retain him from 2013, but have a ton of money on the books already and probably can't afford to spend a ton of money on a guy who struggled and was injured in 2012.
Turning down that option, however, could be the end of Haren in Los Angeles. He would become quite the free agent target and I think the Phillies would be interested.
Haren would likely seek out a one-year deal to reestablish his value heading into next offseason, and the Phillies could use the starting pitching depth to explore deals for guys like Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley.
It's a long shot at this point, but one that I would keep an eye on.
Marco Scutaro made himself very valuable during the postseason and there will be teams lining up at his door to make the free agent an offer.
After winning the World Series with the San Francisco Giants, I think it is fair to assume that his first choice would be to re-sign with the club, but that isn't going to stop other teams, like the Phillies, from making an offer.
The Phillies would likely offer Scutaro time at third base, but his interest likely hinges on how much playing time they can afford to give him, and if Chase Utley is even remotely healthy, that probably isn't much.
With Freddy Galvis tearing the cover off of the ball in his winter league, the Phillies may be more inclined to give him the third base job and bulk up on their bench options.
Now, that's not to say that Galvis is going to come into spring training and take a miraculous leap against Major League pitching, but he is one of the most sure-handed defenders in the game and if the Phillies can't find a good bat, they'll go with elite defense.
One player that could serve as a nice bench option and somewhat of a mentor to Galvis at third base would be Eric Chavez.
Chavez has spent the last couple of seasons playing off of the New York Yankees bench and has done a nice job, especially against right-handed pitching.
At the very least, he gives the Phillies the option of doing some kind of platoon at third, even if it is with Kevin Frandsen and not Galvis.
One name that the Phillies have been linked to in the past that could pop up again this offseason is Brandon Inge.
The infielder seemed to reinvent himself following a trade to the Oakland Athletics last season, but a shoulder injury that would eventually require surgery sidelined him for the last couple of weeks and may have hurt his value.
If he is healthy, Inge is a guy that could play off of the Phillies bench and provide them with some pop against left-handed pitching. He is also a guy that could play second base, third base, right field or left field in a pinch.
The Minnesota Twins recently declined Scott Baker's contract option, making him a free agent. But given the state of their starting rotation (which includes just one pitcher—Scott Diamond), it would not surprise anyone to see them try their darnedest to bring him back.
If talks fall apart and Baker decides to bring other teams into the mix, I expect the Phillies to be interested as long as the price is right.
This club needs starting pitching depth. It is unreasonable to expect Kyle Kendrick to repeat his performance as a starter and injuries could decimate this rotation in a heartbeat.
Adding a starting pitcher would also allow the Phillies to dangle Vance Worley in a trade for offense at a position like third base—something they desperately need.
But in order to do that, the Phillies would need to add an affordable starting pitcher with some upside. Baker fits that mold.
If he had his druthers, Ryan Madson would probably like to land a closer's gig somewhere this winter, but it is hard to see that happening.
After and offseason kerfuffle led to him accepting a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds last winter, Madson injured his elbow and would eventually undergo Tommy John surgery.
Now he'll have to look for a one-year deal to rebuild his value heading into 2014, and the Phillies seem like a logical destination for him to do that.
The Phillies want an experienced reliever who can man the eighth inning in front of Jonathan Papelbon and Madson has plenty of experience doing that. If he pitches well in that role, teams will jump at the chance to make him their closer for 2014 and beyond, assuming Boras' price is right.
Kevin Youkilis makes a good bit of sense for the Phillies and I imagine that he feels the same away about them.
The third baseman seemed to settle in a bit and refocus on baseball after he was traded away from the Boston Red Sox last season, making him a desirable target for a team like the Phillies, who are probably more interested in a stopgap at third base than anything.
Youkilis isn't going to win a Gold Glove at third base. In fact, he isn't even going to come close. But if he provides enough offense that the Phillies are comfortable with sticking him into the batting order behind Ryan Howard, I would consider that a good deal.
There is a growing speculation that the Phillies will have quite a bit of interest in outfielder Melky Cabrera this winter, and if the price is right, they absolutely should.
The only outfielder that you can pencil into a starting lineup with any certainty right now is Domonic Brown. After that, the Phillies' roster is littered with platoon options and not many solid, everyday players.
Cabrera would certainly change that, but he obviously comes with a risk following the 50-game suspension. First and foremost, was the progress at the plate real? Is there a chance for another, repeat offense?
There are so many questions surrounding Cabrera that, if I were in charge, I'd only feel comfortable committing one-year and not much more than $5 million—if that. For Cabrera, 2013 should be about rebuilding his image for the future.
Scott Hairston may be one of the most underrated outfielders in the game today, and that could be a good thing for the Phillies.
With Domonic Brown all but guaranteed one of the corner outfield spots, the Phillies could be in the mix for an affordable corner outfielder this winter if they are not comfortable committing to guys like Darin Ruf, Laynce Nix, Nate Schierholtz and John Mayberry Jr.
If Hairston comes at the right price, he gives you 15-20 home run power and is solid with the glove in left field. At the very least he is a nice option as the right-handed half of a platoon, but that is why it is important to get him at the right price.
Would Josh Hamilton make the Phillies a better team?
I think the simple answer is "yes," but this is not a simple question. If the Phillies are going to commit a large amount of money to an outfielder, it probably need to be to a guy who can play center field. While Hamilton can technically "play" center field, most defensive metrics show that he is more suited to play left field.
And that's not even the most complex problem. That would be how he fits into the Phillies' lineup. Hamilton is yet another left-handed bat that has his struggles against left-handed pitching. He would join Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown in making the Phillies lineup incredibly left-handed.
Given all of his off the field struggles, this probably is not a wise investment for the Phillies unless the on field fit is perfect, and it is far from perfect.
Reed Johnson seems to pop up every offseason in relation to the Phillies, but I don't think they'll be overly interested in his services this winter.
Johnson is a good platoon guy. He hits left-handed pitching very well, but struggles big time against right-handed pitchers.
The Phillies really don't need another platoon option at this point given the presence of both Darin Ruf and John Mayberry Jr. out in left field.
With that being said, I'm sure Johnson will keep an eye on what is happening with the Phillies' outfield situation.
If the price is right, Ryan Ludwick could make a good bit of sense for the Phillies, who are in desperate need of some right-handed power.
Moving into the season with Carlos Ruiz as the top right-handed power threat is optimistic, if not foolhardy. That's not a knock against Ruiz, but it would be unreasonable to throw all of your eggs into that basket.
If the Phillies can't find a center fielder with some pop to cover all of their needs, a secondary outfielder like Ludwick could be a nice option. He has 20-25 home run power and plays a passable left field.
But to be perfectly honest, for the price, I don't think that a guy like Ludwick is much of an upgrade over in-house options like Darin Ruf and John Mayberry Jr.
Do I believe that Juan Pierre would like to rejoin the Phillies? Yes. Do I think that there is going to be room for him on the roster next season? Probably not.
Believe it or not, the Phillies outfield / bench picture is already pretty crowded. For a team that still needs to add a center fielder and figure out one of their corner outfield situations, it sounds kind of funny to say.
Right now, Domonic Brown is going to play either left or right field. If the season opened tomorrow, the other corner outfield spot would be some combination of Darin Ruf, John Mayberry Jr., Nate Schierholtz and Laynce Nix.
That's five outfielders for two spots and I didn't even factor in a potential reunion with Pierre.
If the speedy outfielder were to rejoin the club, a few names would have to go. We'll assume that Brown is safe. Schierholtz is not under contract and could be a non-tender candidate. Then again, Nix isn't breaking the bank and the Phillies could stand to cut him, too. Mayberry seems to be safe for now. Ruf can be sent to Triple-A.
So what does that mean? The Phillies can make room for Pierre, but it would be difficult and isn't likely.
Michael Bourn is one of the best outfielders available this winter and the Phillies are interested in good outfielders, so this seems like a natural fit with both parties being interested in one another.
I won't deny that.
Is a reunion with Bourn a good idea for the Phillies? Well, that's a bit more debatable. Bourn is another left-handed hitter who's best game is speed. The Phillies would have to invest in that speed through the prime of his career, and players don't tend to get faster as they age.
Bourn also strikes out quite a bit, which would present another problem for a Phillies' lineup that does not need to head in that direction.
Bourn is a great defensive center fielder and a solid offensive player, but I think that there are better fits available for the Phillies.
Before the postseason began, Angel Pagan was one of the best potential fixes for the Phillies' center field situation. Now that the World Series is over, I'm not so sure.
The Phillies don't have an exorbitant amount of money to spend this offseason and have a couple of holes to fill. Before the postseason, Pagan could have been one of the biggest bargains. That's probably not the case after the World Series.
Pagan had an excellent postseason for the Giants and likely earned himself quite a bit of money heading into the winter. The Phillies will still be interested, but the fit isn't as great if Pagan priced himself into the first tier of free agents, in my opinion.
If the Phillies are feeling bold this winter, they'll make a run at free agent outfielder Grady Sizemore.
This is a club that can't afford too many "high risk, high reward" type deals this winter, but Sizemore is the kind of player that has the potential to be a difference maker and that is something that the Phillies could use.
Sizemore's last few seasons with the Cleveland Indians were plagued with injuries and if anyone can use a change of scenery, it's this man.
You would have to go back to 2008 to find his last full season, but if Sizemore is healthy and ready to produce, the Phillies should make him an offer. He'll likely be seeking a one-year deal to reestablish his value and could play either center or left field.
The popular school of thought seems to be that the Phillies will make a run at free agent outfielder B.J. Upton this winter. It's an interesting scenario.
If the Phillies can coax all of that "potential" out of Upton, he'd be a great fit. The guy is a five-tool player if there ever was one who can hit, run and defend and make it look easy—when he wants to.
And that's the downside of any potential deal with Upton: You're paying for a level of production that we know he can conceivably reach, but hasn't just yet. It's a gamble for a player who has also been notoriously hard to coach in the past.
As a right-handed, above average defense center fielder with some pop at the plate, I think that Upton makes a good bit of sense for the Phillies. But when you factor in some of the other variables, it certainly is not the safest deal.