That led general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. to become a seller for the first time at the July 31 trade deadline. Hunter Pence was traded to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton were dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
But a late surge made them a surprise contender in the National League wild-card race. Had Amaro known that was possible, would he have made those midseason deals? Probably, as getting below the $178 million luxury tax threshold and gaining payroll flexibility were priorities for Amaro.
So what will the Phillies do with that wiggle room in their payroll? The team needs at least one outfielder, maybe two. Third base is another hole that needs to be filled. And a bullpen that cost Philadelphia far too many games needs another arm.
Here are five signings or trades that the Phillies should pursue this offseason. Amaro won't make all of these moves, but two or three of them could put his team back into the NL East race next year.