While their needs are many, the Philadelphia Phillies must prioritize filling their hole in center field above all else this offseason.
The Phillies ranked at or below Major League Baseball averages in batting averages, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and runs scored. They certainly hope that full, healthy seasons from Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will give the slugging and runs scored numbers a boost.
Ultimately, though, this is still a pitching-first roster, with three starters scheduled to earn more than $20 million apiece in 2013. It would be senseless to spend that sort of money on starting pitching and then entrust the most important outfield position to John Mayberry Jr.
None of this is intended to suggest that signing a premium center fielder will "fix" the Phillies' problems. Third base is still a huge question mark. Unless you really believe in both Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown, the corner outfield spots look, well, spotty. They still do not have a trustworthy setup man.
But an above-average center fielder, one who can cover defensive deficiencies of his outfield counterparts and help with the bat, is a necessity for the Phillies as they are currently constructed.