Winter is coming.
It will be an offseason of retooling for the Philadelphia Phillies. Following a third-place finish to the 2012 season and trades of two All-Star-caliber outfielders at last July's trade deadline, this is a team and a front office with work to do this winter.
They've made no bones about their needs. The Phillies need to add a third baseman with more offensive upside than Freddy Galvis, a center fielder to replace Shane Victorino, a corner outfielder to replace Hunter Pence, a veteran bullpen arm and maybe even a starting pitcher.
The Phillies have a lot of holes to fill and may not have enough plugs to stop the ship from sinking, but they are sure as hell going to try.
You will hear the Phillies linked to a number of rumors this winter, and that is why it is important to keep tuning in right here for the latest information.
We will be updating this very slideshow with the latest news, rumors, free-agent signings, trades and more. The Phillies have a lot of work to do. Make sure you don't miss any of it.
One of the biggest areas of weakness for the Phillies throughout the 2012 season was their bullpen, so while it is not outside the realm of possibility that they are much better with a year of experience under their belts, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that the front office is keeping its options open.
There is still a chance the Nationals could sign Howell. But the Nats have competition for his services. From what I'm hearing, the Phillies, Cubs, Mariners and Rangers have interest in Howell. I don't expect Howell to sign a deal until after Christmas.
Do the Phillies really need another left-handed reliever?
As I stated above, it isn't necessarily surprising to see the Phillies checking in on relievers, but it is interesting that that they're checking in on a guy like Howell. After dealing with injuries over the last couple of years, he is a left-handed specialist at this point in his career.
The Phillies already have plenty of those, with guys like Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst, Jake Diekman, Raul Valdes and even Joe Savery ready and available. So why show interest in a guy like Howell, who struggled mightily against right-handed hitters last season?
One theory is that they could be interest in dealing from an area of depth. Could moving one of their young lefties help acquire a power hitting outfielder? Signing Howell would allow them to pull the trigger on a small trade and address two areas of need.
Nothing sounds all that hot just yet, but this is one to keep an eye on.
I guess Ruben Amaro Jr. prefers making all of his free agent signings in bunches. After nearly two months of inactivity on the free agent market, the Phillies have filled two of their biggest needs—setup man and back of the rotation starter—with Mike Adams and now John Lannan, respectively.
Sources: Phillies have agreement with LHP John Lannan, pending a physical. Busy weekend for Phils, who also have agreement w RHP Mike Adams— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) December 15, 2012
Is Lannan a good fit for the Phils?
This is a guy that the Washington Nationals had all but seen enough of in 2012, but he was solid for them down the stretch after they shut down Stephen Strasburg and recalled Lannan from Triple-A. The Phillies are giving him $2.5 million on a one-year deal.
In a lot of ways, Lannan fits exactly what the Phillies were looking for. He is going to be a cheap, back of the rotation starter who keeps the ball on the ground (56.9 percent groundball rate in 2012) and should keep them in ballgames.
What he doesn't do is strike batters out (12.1 career K percent) or have overly impressive control (8.7 BB percent).
As long as he is able to stay in the starting rotation, Lannan should have no problem living up to that deal. He needs to execute a pretty specific gameplan though: Have hitters put the ball in play and keep the ball on the ground.
He could be a solid fifth starter.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That is quickly becoming the Phillies' motto this offseason.
After a trade to acquire former Houston Astros reliever Wilton Lopez fell by the wayside earlier this offseason, the Phillies have agreed to sign a different, albeit similarly risky, reliever in former Texas Rangers setup man Mike Adams.
Source: Adams in agreement with #Phillies on two-year, $12M deal with vesting option. Pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 15, 2012
Is Adams a good fit for the Phillies?
This is one that doesn't surprise me. A lot of people speculated that the Phillies could wind up signing Adams this offseason, as they've been linked to him in the past. They were in desperate need of a setup man and Adams has been one of the best in the business.
There are some red flags with Adams, the first being his health. He had a rib removed over the offseason to treat his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome—a numbing sensation, primarily in the fingers. He is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.
The second red flag is a noticeable decline in velocity over the last three seasons, and you have to wonder if this is related to that Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. His velocity peaked in 2010 at 93.4 mph and decreased over each of the next two seasons: 92.7 and 91.3 mph, respectively.
Of course, Adams is also 34 years old.
With that having been said, Adams has never been one to rely on his fastball. His primary pitch is actually a very good slider with a lot of break. Off of that, he'll mix in three different types of fastball—four-seam, two-seam and cutter.
At two-years and $12 million with a vesting option for a third year, I think that the Phillies got a good deal on a guy like Adams. With Adams and Jonathan Papelbon pitching the last two innings, the Phillies are free to throw some of their rookies at hitters earlier in the game.
This is a solid move.
With speculation running wild that the Phillies had offered Josh Hamilton a massive three-year deal, I have been waiting for one of baseball's "heavy-hitting" reporters to give the rumor any kind of substance. Here is an interesting snippet from Buster Olney's latest Insiders Only piece (with a h/t from MLB Trade Rumors).
Phillies officials have privately maintained that they’d be prepared to offer Josh Hamilton a three-year deal.
Of course, Olney sure makes it sound as though the Phillies haven't actually offered Hamilton any type of deal yet, which is a stark contrast to some of the reports coming out of Philadelphia-area radio stations yesterday.
My radio partner, Anthony Gargano, has it from a good source that the Phils have offered Josh Hamilton a three-year contract.
— Glen Macnow (@RealGlenMacnow) December 11, 2012
That deal is reportedly in the three-years, $80 million range.
Would Hamilton be a good fit for the Phillies at that price?
Sure he would.
When it comes to a guy like Hamilton, it's all about the guaranteed years. The Phillies are one of the few teams left as a landing spot for Hamilton that could throw something like $26 million a year at him on a short term deal. They just can't be snake-bitten by a long term contract.
But what stops Hamilton taking that offer back to the Texas Rangers? They could match that offer with ease. If the Phillies really want Hamilton, they'll have to do something that teams just haven't been willing to do—offer a fourth guaranteed year and maybe more.
Some of these trade rumors just speak for themselves.
During the winter meetings, the Phillies discussed a trade with the Chicago Cubs that would sent Domonic Brown to the rebuilding Cubbies in exchange for Alfonso Soriano, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The Phillies, interested in a right-handed batter to hit behind cleanup man Ryan Howard, talked to the Cubs about a swap of Domonic Brown for Alfonso Soriano but may still be slightly more inclined to sign a free agent, such as Cody Ross or someone else.
Hopefully, the Phillies decide to sign that free agent.
Look at the logistics alone—the Phillies would be trading several years of a former number one prospect in exchange for two years of Soriano. Would he represent a significant upgrade? The short answer is no.
This could be one of the worst trades in Phillies' history if it goes through.
Well, this wasn't the way they drew it up. The Phillies came into the offseason expecting to fill their biggest voids via the free agent market and instead swung two trades to find their center fielder and third baseman.
Now, after days of speculation, Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that the Phillies have acquired Michael Young from the Texas Rangers in exchange for pitchers Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla.
Young, 36, spent the first 13 years of his career as a member of the Rangers. He is a contact hitter with average power that, assuming his 2012 season was just an outlier, should be an upgrade over what the Phillies already had at third base—Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.
At this point in his career, Young is a below average defender with limited range, but he won't be terrible at third base. He isn't going to win a Gold Glove, but he isn't going to kill them there either.
Lindblom, 25, was acquired by the Phillies from the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer as part of the Shane Victorino trade. The Phillies expected him to come aboard and become the club's eighth inning setup man, but it was painfully clear that those were unrealistic expectations.
Lindblom has a solid fastball and a decent breaking ball, but he is a flyball pitcher who tends to work in the upper half of the strike zone. I don't expect that to work any better in Texas than it did in Philadelphia.
The most interesting player in this deal has to be the 22-year-old Lisalverto Bonilla. A right-handed pitcher, the Phillies converted him into a reliever full-time last season and he was incredible.
A hand injury forced him to miss some time during the 2012 season, but the progress was obvious. Bonilla has a chance to develop three above average pitches: A fastball, changeup and slider. He generates a fair amount of sink on his fastball, which helps him to generate groundballs.
Texas is also paying roughly $10 million of the $16 million owed to Young in the deal.
All in all, this is a solid move for the Phillies. After seeing the way Lindblom fared in Citizens Bank Park (and beyond), the Phillies essentially traded a spare part who may not have made their bullpen under different circumstances and a prospect with upside for a starting third baseman.
In the future, this deal will be measured by what Young was able to do in one season as the Phillies' third baseman. If he can rebound by playing slightly less than average defense at third and making solid contact, presumably from the second spot in the Phillies' order, this could be a good deal.
Even if Bonilla reaches his potential, trading relief pitchers is not something that this club needs to worry about right now. This is a solid move, in my opinion.
With their center field options dwindling, the Phillies managed to avoid overpaying for Michael Bourn and pulled the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, acquiring center fielder Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May.
Vance Worley and Trevor May to Minn for Ben Revere. He will be Phils' CF.
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) December 6, 2012
Revere, 24, is going to be the Phillies' center fielder for a long time. He is not eligible for arbitration until next offseason and will not become a free agent until 2018. He has good tools, highlighted by plus speed and defense. He is a solid contact hitter with improving on-base skills.
Worley, 25, should become the ace of the Twins' rotation, which says more about the state of the Twins than Worley's upside. The Twins are getting a solid, middle of the rotation starter with a good fastball and inconsistent secondary offerings.
May, 23, is easily the most interesting player in the deal. If he ever lives up to his potential—the potential that made him the Phillies' top prospect as recently as last winter—the Twins found themselves a solid right-handed pitching prospect with some serious upside.
May's repertoire consists of a good, hard fastball with movement, a plus curve and an average changeup. He has experimented with other pitches that haven't been as successful.
This biggest argument against May is his command, which has been shaky at best throughout his minor league career. He have trouble repeating his mechanics and at that stage of his career, most scouts seem to agree that his future is in the bullpen.
With that in mind, I think that both parties are getting a good deal here. The Phillies are getting a young, controllable center fielder with plenty of upside that will allow them to pursue a power bat on the free agent market. The Twins are getting a legitimate middle of the rotation starter in Worley and a big question mark in May—is he a solid middle reliever or a middle to top of the rotation starter?
All in all, a solid move for the Phillies. B+.
The Phillies' search for a center fielder has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs this offseason and very difficult to follow. What we know for a fact is that the club had interest in both BJ Upton and Angel Pagan, who were presumably options one and two on their wishlist, but both signed elsewhere.
Now, the Phillies are going to have to get creative. A few outlets are reporting that the Phillies have had discussions with the Minnesota Twins about acquiring Ben Revere. Here's the latest from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports:
#phillies have been talking to the twins about ben revere.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 6, 2012
#twins seek starting pitchers. Finding FA market high. from philly could seek someone like vance worley for revere
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 6, 2012
Is Revere a good fit for the Phillies?
I think Revere is a great fit for the Phillies, assuming he is the smaller of a few moves.
Revere is an elite defensive center fielder with plus speed who could really help the Phillies' more defensively-challenged in the outfield. He is a good contact hitter who finds his way on base and could eventually supplant Jimmy Rollins' as the club's leadoff hitter.
The real problem here is that I don't think he adds enough offense for the Phillies. Adding Revere is a good step, but it would likely cost the Phillies Vance Worley. They would then need to add a starting pitcher from the free agent market's second tier and a bat in the mold of Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher.
In my opinion, Revere is a good fit—as long as the Phillies are following a plan. If it ends with Revere, they are still a third place team.
Some things just never change.
A pair of those things just happen to be the fact that the Phillies still don't have an everyday third baseman and the annual call from Ruben Amaro Jr. to Texas Rangers general manager Josh Daniels to ask about Michael Young.
But this year, something changed. The Rangers are willing to trade Young. In fact, Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet is reporting that the only thing standing in the way of a deal is Young's willingness to waive his no-trade clause to come to Philly.
Source: it is in Michael Young's hands whether he wants to be a Phillie. He is deciding whether to waive no trade.
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) December 6, 2012
Is Young a good fit for the Phillies?
I don't mind this move if the Phillies are getting Young at a bargain rate, but without many specifics, it is difficult to say. If the Phillies are getting him for cheap, Young can get regular repetitions at third base while giving Chase Utley and Ryan Howard a breather on other days.
Who knows? Maybe some regular at-bats will help Young get back into the swing of things. For what it's worth, Bill James projects him to hit .294 / .343 / .416 with 12 home runs next season.
If a trade is ever accomplished, I'll update a new slide to grade the deal.
With the free agent market drying up fast, it sure looks as though the Phillies are going to have to make a trade to land any player of substance, and given the state of their farm system, such a deal would likely have to include starting pitcher Vance Worley.
With that in mind, Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that the Phillies have been keeping in touch with the agents of "second tier" starting pitchers in the event that they do trade Worley.
#Phillies have touched base w agents for 2nd-tier starters to express tentative interest, in case they trade Vance Worley.
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 6, 2012
Who classifies as a second tier starter?
This makes plenty of sense. If the Phillies do wind up trading Worley, they'd have to go into the season with both Kyle Kendrick and Tyler Cloyd in the starting rotation, as things stand now. That's not going to happen.
So if the Phillies make a trade, they'll likely jump back into the starting pitching market as well. Some names to consider are Shaun Marcum, Joe Saunders, Francisco Liriano and Brandon McCarthy.
We're talking about affordable, but productive pitchers.
I keep using phrases like, "Just how desperate are the Phillies for outfield help," in this slideshow, but man, just how desperate are the Phillies for outfield help?
What was once a robust market for this club dried up quickly when they lost out on both BJ Upton and Angel Pagan and the Washington Nationals traded for Denard Span.
Now, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that they've kept tabs on a guy they wouldn't even blink in the direction of last offseason—Raul Ibanez.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2012
Is Ibanez a fit for the Phillies?
Ibanez is the kind of guy that the Phillies should just stay away from. At this point in his career, he is a part-time, platoon player, and may not even be a good one. You have to look at two different sets of split statistics from 2012 to get the bigger picture.
First and foremost, Ibanez was abysmal versus left-handed pitching, posting a line of .197 / .246 / .246 with zero home runs, compared to a .248 / .319 / .492 line against right-handed pitching, with all 19 of his home runs.
So he could be a solid platoon player, right? I'm not sold. Check out his home and road statistics, where he definitely got a boost in power from that short porch in Yankee Stadium:
The Phillies should stay away from Ibanez at all costs. This could be disastrous.
Well, this has been an interesting offseason. The Phillies entered the winter meetings with the expectation that they would leave with a center fielder. Now, no one has a clue as to what they're going to do next.
With center fielders flying off the market, the Phillies have been pursuing corner outfielders as well, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that you can add Scott Hairston to the growing list of possibilities.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2012
Hairston a fit for the Phillies?
Hairston could be a solid bench / fourth outfielder type of guy for the Phillies. He hit left-handed pitching well last season posting a line of .286 / .317 / .550 with 11 home runs.
With that being said, given the eventual price, I don't see him as a huge upgrade over John Mayberry Jr., if at all.
This one doesn't come as much of a surprise given their near-desperate situation in the outfield, but Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet is reporting that the Phillies are dangling starting pitcher Vance Worley in trades and would be willing to move right-handed pitching prospect Trevor May in the right deal.
The Phillies are dangling pitcher Vance Worley as a trade chip and would be willing to include pitching prospect Trevor May in the right deal, a baseball source tells CSNPhilly.com.
What kind of deal would force the Phillies to move Worley and/or May?
The Phillies don't have a deep farm system, so some of the most rampant speculation throughout the offseason to date is that if they want to acquire a young, controllable center fielder with some upside, they're going to have to move Worley.
The most popular speculation for a trade partner has been the Colorado Rockies, who are desperate for starting pitching and willing to move center fielder Dexter Fowler. That's probably not the best fit for the Phillies, but their options are limited.
Another target that has come up in speculation is Peter Bourjos, but the Los Angeles Angels don't seem all that enthusiastic about moving him, and rightfully so. He and Mike Trout could be a dynamic top of the order for years to come.
Would May help further a deal like that, though? That's where the whole "right deal" aspect comes into play. It's all speculation right now, but of the group Salisbury names in his article, Josh Willingham sure sounds like the right fit.
In my opinion, however, he shouldn't cost the Phillies Worley or May.
Would the Phillies consider trading Cliff Lee? When the offseason started, I would have replied with a resounding "hell no." The Phillies owe him close to $90 million over three seasons and—even if the win-total doesn't say so—he's been an elite starting pitcher over the first two years of his new deal.
But desperate times call for desperate measures. That resounding "hell no" was before BJ Upton signed with the Atlanta Braves. It was before Angel Pagan re-signed with the San Francisco Giants. That was a "hell no" spoken before Josh Hamilton got close to re-signing with the Texas Rangers and Shane Victorino inched closer to becoming a member of the Boston Red Sox.
So, with the Phillies' options quickly dwindling in center field, it appears as though they've turned their focus to shoring up one of their corner outfield spots, and boy, they could be doing it by adding one of the best trade targets available.
Pedro Gomez of ESPN is reporting that the Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks are revisiting one of those good old deadline deals that never happened—Lee for Justin Upton.
Phillies and Diamondbacks are discussing Justin Upton for Cliff Lee. Money coming to AZ would also be involved.
— Pedro Gomez (@pedrogomezESPN) December 4, 2012
Is this a realistic trade for both sides?
This is one of those deals that takes a moment to digest and there are certainly a number of hurdles to clear.
The first one is an obvious one—salary. There is a $49 million difference in salary between Lee and Upton, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the D'backs won't be taking it all of it on, as Gomez reports. So how much would they realistically need to absorb?
Second, what's next for the Phillies? Trading Lee opens up a hole in the Phillies rotation. They won't commit to both Kyle Kendrick and Tyler Cloyd in the starting rotation, but could jump into the free agent market for starters and come away with a solid name (Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse, Anibal Sanchez, etc.)
Part of me wonders if the Phillies even feel that a straight up swap of Lee and Upton is enough to pull the trigger. While Upton is a fine outfielder that would certainly solve the Phillies' need for a right-handed power bat, I don't have any doubts that they're also interested in some of the D'backs' young starting pitchers.
And then, after you digest all of that, don't forget that Lee also has a partial no-trade clause. And in case that isn't enough cold water for you, here's a tweet from Nick Piecoro, Diamondbacks beat reporter for AZ Central Sports, that basically says that this deal isn't even being discussed.
Dbacks source tells me the Upton/Lee stuff "hasn't been discussed" and is "off base."
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) December 4, 2012
BJ Upton and Angel Pagan were the Phillies' top two targets in this winter's free agent market as far as center fielders are concerned, and now, both have signed with other clubs. What's next for the Phillies?
Well, the growing speculation is that they could turn to the trade market to find their next center fielder and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that they have had some level of discussion with the Colorado Rockies about Dexter Fowler.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 3, 2012
Is Fowler a good fit for the Phillies?
The honest answer is probably "no."
Fowler is a good, young, affordable center fielder, but his home and road splits from the 2012 season are terrifying. Fowler hit .332 / .431 / .553 with 10 home runs at home in the notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field while hitting .262 / .339 / .389 with three home runs on the road.
Those aren't the worst road statistics in the world, but the Rockies are going to ask for a ton with Fowler coming off of his best season. They're looking to cash in. He played a below average defense and while there is room for improvement, is a huge risk for the Phillies.
As Rosenthal implied, the Rockies are going to be looking for at least two starting pitchers in return for Fowler—one that could help now (Vance Worley, Tyler Cloyd) and one that could help in the future (Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin).
This isn't a wise deal for the Phillies unless the speculation on the Rockies' price for Fowler is way overblown.
What was once a fruitful market for the Phillies is beginning to thin down, and fast. After losing BJ Upton to the Atlanta Braves last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the San Francisco Giants are close to re-signing the Phillies' next target, Angel Pagan.
Sources: Pagan close to re-signing with #SFGiants.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 3, 2012
What's next for the Phillies?
Losing Upton wasn't a big deal for the Phillies because the Braves spent quite a bit on him and there were other options available. Losing Pagan stings a bit more. The free agent market is drying up fast.
The Phillies haven't been so willing to bring back Shane Victorino thus far and Michael Bourn, who is going to cost a pretty penny, hasn't been at the top of their wishlist. So "what's next" is a pretty good question.
From a free agent perspective, Victorino, Bourn and Josh Hamilton are the best remaining. The Phillies could always jump into the trade market as well where Dexter Fowler and Peter Bourjos are options.
The Phillies are going to find a center fielder this winter. That's pretty much a foregone conclusion. What hasn't been decided just yet is how they will accomplish that feat.
While much of their focus has been on the free agent market, Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet is reporting that the Phillies have also kept an eye on the trade market, mainly on two guys they have coveted for a while now—Dexter Fowler and Peter Bourjos.
"The Phils will continue to monitor the availability of Colorado’s Dexter Fowler as a trade candidate. The Phils have long coveted Peter Bourjos, but the Angels have indicated they plan to use him in their starting outfield."
Will the Phillies trade for a center fielder?
That seems highly unlikely at this point.
Outlets have been reporting with frequency that the Phillies are deep in negotiations with Angel Pagan and may be one of the favorites, along with the San Francisco Giants.
If the Phillies sign Pagan, they would obviously pull out of the trade market for a center fielder. However, what if Pagan signs with the Giants? That would create an interesting problem with the Phillies, who have distanced themselves from free agent Shane Victorino.
Would they reunite with Michael Bourn?
At that point, they could jump into the trade market again, but this time, in a big way. As Salisbury reported, however, the Los Angeles Angels consider Bourjos a starter and the Colorado Rockies are asking a lot for Fowler.
If the price is right (or in other words, as long as the Phillies are not paying for his Coors Field-inflated splits), I'd have no problem with Fowler.
This is not a good offseason to be desperate for a third baseman. The Phillies are search high and low to find a replacement for Placido Polanco, including the trade market, and may have come back to a familiar name.
"Veteran Texas infielder Michael Young could also be a fit if some hurdles could be cleared. Young has a no-trade clause and is signed for 2013 at $16 million. Sources say the Phillies have interest in Young, but the player would have to waive his no-trade clause and the Rangers would have to pick up a chunk of his salary."
Is Young a fit with the Phillies?
"Horrific" was the first word that came to mind when I thought of any deal involving the Phillies and Rangers about Young.
At this point in his career, for all intents and purposes, Young has just about reached the end. He has become a below average defender with poor range and his offensive numbers have gone into decline.
To make matters worse, he is still owed $16 million for the 2013 season, so unless the Rangers are prepared to absorb nearly all of it, I just don't see the fit for either side.
The Phillies' outfield situation only got a bit foggier this past week when the club decided to non-tender Nate Schierholtz, leaving Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Darin Ruf as the only outfielders on the active roster.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. obviously has his work cut out for him if he is going to retool this outfield, and CBS Sports is reporting that, along with the rumor-popular Angel Pagan, the Phillies are pursuing free agent corner outfielder Cody Ross.
Ross a fit for the Phillies?
The Phillies still have a lot of options to fill a couple of holes in the outfield and it is far too soon to rule anyone out, but in my opinion, Ross is more of a platoon player than a regular. Last season with the Boston Red Sox, he hit .256 / .308 / .422 with 10 home runs against right-handed pitching, but hit .295 / .373 / .636 with 12 home runs against left-handed pitching.
If the Phillies go the Oakland Athletics route and use a platoon in both corners of the outfield (Ross and Laynce Nix, Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown), then I like this move, as long as it would be cheap.
Otherwise, I don't see Ross as a significant improvement over what the Phillies already have.
The Phillies' options at third base are almost non-existent this offseason, and they know that. The trade market is bleak outside of San Diego's Chase Headley, and the Phillies would have to dismantle the farm system to acquire him.
The free agent market is much better. Mark Reynolds is a strikeout machine with cinder-block hands and Eric Chavez is a part time player.
Kevin Youkilis is the cream of the crop at third base this offseason—a weak crop indeed. But there is no doubt that he could help the Phillies out, and Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago is reporting that the Phillies have shown plenty of interest in the "Greek God of Walks."
One baseball source identified the White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies as the two most aggressive teams this offseason in pursuit of a third baseman.
Both are on hot on the trail of Kevin Youkilis, who is without question the class of a thin crop of free agents available at the hot corner.
Is Youkilis a good idea?
Yes and no.
If there were realistic options, I'd say no. Youkilis is in obvious decline and hasn't been healthy in forever. With that being said, he brings an element that the Phillies sorely lack—right handed power—and isn't going to break the bank.
That's why I'll go with yes, for now. If you can get Youkilis on a one-year deal, what's the harm? He'll likely get two years, but as long as the cost is controlled, this could be a solid stopgap type of move for the Phillies until a guy like Cody Asche is ready.
How far will the Phillies' search for an affordable corner outfielder take them?
Assuming that they spend most of their available budget on a free agent center fielder, the Phillies also need to address their third base and setup vacancies before even blinking at a corner outfielder.
With that being said, one player who could be interested in the Phillies, at least according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, is Ichiro Suzuki.
Ichiro said to be reaching out to other teams now (philly could be one). Belief strong he badly wants to stay w/ NYY tho.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 2, 2012
Ichiro and the Phils?
Heyman mentions that Ichiro's preference is to stay with the Yankees, and that is something that it seems as though most people believe. The real question is how much do the Yanks want Ichiro back? Things haven't been going so smoothly on that front.
So if that is the case, it is a smart play by Ichiro and his agency to bring in other suitors. The Phillies are a big market team with money to spend and a hole to fill.
At this point, I think it is just posturing to get a little closer to the Yankees, but if nothing develops on that front, I could see the Phillies making a late play for Ichiro as long as he comes at a bargain rate.
What in the world happened to Chone Figgins?
Just three years after signing a four-year deal with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent before the 2010 season, the Mariners finally bit the bullet and released the struggling utility man this offseason.
That creates some interesting possibilities for a number of clubs, the Phillies among them. Jon Paul Morosi is reporting that the Phils have checked in on Figgins, but that the extent of their interest is unclear.
#Phillies, with needs at 3B and OF, checked in with the recently released Chone Figgins. Extent of interest unclear.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 2, 2012
Figgins a good fit for the Phillies?
Chone Figgins on a minor league deal is an excellent idea.
This is the kind of "no risk, high reward" signing that makes a general manager look like a genius. Ruben Amaro Jr. swung a similar move last offseason when he was able to get Juan Pierre on board with a non-guaranteed deal and he could do the same for Figgins.
While his Mariners career was nothing to write home about, Figgins is a guy who hit .291 / .363 / .388 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels from 2002-09.
The big job for whoever signs Figgins is going to be to figure out what the hell went wrong in Seattle.
The Winter Meetings have been an interesting source of whacky and seemingly unrealistic trade options in the past, so prepare yourself for a few days of oohs and ahhs and not a lot of substance.
On a related note, the FOX Sports duo of Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi are reporting that the Chicago Cubs will be shopping outfielder Alfonso Soriano yet again this winter and that the Phillies are likely to come calling.
The Philadelphia Phillies are one obvious fit for Soriano. They are looking for a right-handed outfield bat to replace Hunter Pence, who was dealt to the San Francisco Giants at the July trade deadline. With Pence gone and catcher Carlos Ruiz suspended to begin the season, the Phillies have only one player on their active roster – shortstop Jimmy Rollins – who hit more than 15 home runs in 2012, when Ryan Howard and Chase Utley missed time with injuries.
The Phillies and Soriano?
This is one that I just can't see happening.
First and foremost, Soriano is still owed $36 million over two years and the Phillies aren't necessarily in a position to guarantee that kind of cash to a 36-year-old outfielder who has had a couple of really bad seasons in recent memory.
On the other hand, maybe the Cubs are ready to give him away. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and company are trying to rebuild this club and moving Soriano is a way to free up some funds and add a quality prospect or two.
The Phillies are a logical fit in the sense that they don't have an overly valuable prospect to offer, but if the Cubs would be willing to eat most of his contract, could trade a solid catching prospect or a quality starting pitcher.
Those are valuable assets to a rebuilding club. More valuable than Soriano, anyway.
For the Phillies, Soriano would be the right-handed bat that they've been dreaming of an this is an opportunity to get him at a bargain rate. Soriano hit both right-handed and left-handed pitching well last season, but between he and Ryan Howard, you can expect a ton of strikeouts.
Admittedly, I dismissed this idea at first, but I've almost talked myself into believing this is a logical deal for the Phillies. If they can get the Cubs to pay, say, $15-20 million of what is owed to the troubled outfielder, it wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.
The Phillies came into the offseason with one glaring need in center field. Now that the rival Atlanta Braves have snatched up their primary target, BJ Upton, the Phillies have shifted their focus to a new primary target.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the Phillies have shifted their focus to free agent outfielder Angel Pagan, who may be more appealing to the club than the best center fielder left on the market, Michael Bourn.
Two teams have made four-year offers to Pagan, sources say. Those teams are believed to be the Phillies and Pagan’s previous club, the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Pagan a fit for the Phillies?
Outside of Upton and Bourn, Pagan has been the most popular name among Phillies fans this winter. The reasoning behind much of that support is the simple fact that he could cost less and provide more penny for penny value than the two aforementioned names.
Now, Pagan on a four-year deal is not necessarily ideal. We are talking about a center fielder on the wrong side of 30 years old without more than five full seasons as a big league regular. He isn't going to supplant incumbent leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins and isn't going to supply the right-handed power that the Phils are looking for.
In my opinion, signing Pagan would be one of two big moves for Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. this offseason. If the Phillies were able to lure Pagan away from San Francisco, he would join John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Darin Ruf as the only outfielders on the free agent market.
This would leave me to believe that the Phillies are going to jump into the market for a big corner outfielder. Josh Hamilton? Nick Swisher? Who knows.
Getting Pagan at a friendly price (less than $12 million a year) could help the Phillies in a big way.
Nate Schierholtz, we barely knew ye.
Four months after acquiring him in a trade with the San Francisco Giants, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN is reporting that the Phillies plan to non-tender Schierholtz prior to the November 30 deadline.
Schierholtz, who came to the Phillies in the trade that cent Hunter Pence to the Giants, hit .273 / .319 / .379 with one home run for the Phils, but also spent time on the disabled list with a broken toe.
#Phillies plan to non-tender outfielder Nate Schierholtz, source says. He was eligible for salary arbitration.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 30, 2012
A curious decision?
I'd say so.
Schierholtz, eligible for a second year of arbitration this winter, was set to earn right around $1.6 million for the 2013 season, according to Matt Swartz and MLB Trade Rumors. That's not a bad price for a platoon player and Schierholtz probably could have been a solid fourth outfielder.
This decision means that the Phillies are comfortable giving Laynce Nix another shot in the same role. He'll be cheaper (though not by much) and is already guaranteed money for next season. The Phillies could always bring Schierholtz back, but with Nix aboard, he is a bit redundant.
When Schierholtz is non-tendered, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Nix, Darin Ruf, Tyson Gillies and Zach Collier will be the only outfielders left on the 40-man roster.
Yesterday, it appeared as though the Phillies had acquired right-handed reliever Wilton Lopez from the Houston Astros in exchange for a pair of minor league players.
However, after word got out that Lopez was in Philadelphia for a physical, has a history of arm issues and no deal has been announced since, the growing speculation is that the deal is dead in the water.
Lopez, who was in Philadelphia on Wednesday for a physical, remains with the Astros on Thursday. The two teams were working on a deal to send Lopez to Philadelphia in exchange for a pair of Minor League prospects, but the Astros are exploring other options.
Can the deal still happen?
Well, when a beat writer starts typing in the past tense, it's never a good sign, but this deal could still go through. There have been some rumblings that the Phillies are worried about the health of Lopez's UCL—a ligament that, if damaged enough, is normally the main culprit of Tommy John surgery.
The Phillies could just be doing extensive medical work here. The fact that Lopez was in town for a physical is an indication that the two sides had already agreed to the framework of the deal. The physical is normally just a formality.
In the blink of an eye, BJ Upton went from the Phillies' top offseason target to being the starting center fielder for one of their biggest rivals, as several outlets, including FOX Sports and Ken Rosenthal, are reporting that the former member of the Tampa Bay Rays has an agreement in place with the Atlanta Braves.
B.J. Upton and #Braves are in agreement, pending physical. Terms of contract not yet known.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2012
What's next for the Phillies?
Up until this moment, the Phillies have spent their offseason trying to lure Upton to Philadelphia. Now that he's a member of the Braves, the obvious question is what's next for the Phillies.
Well, there is an obvious answer too—they still need a center fielder.
Just what kind of center fielder they decide to target now is still up in the air. They could go the "next best" route and sign Michael Bourn. They could go with the "underrated" move and sign Angel Pagan. They could go the "reunion" route and bring back Shane Victorino. Maybe they go with the good old "he should probably be playing left field" route and sign Josh Hamilton.
The only thing we really know at the moment is that the Phillies still need a center fielder and plenty of them are still available.
In a distant corner of the Phillies' front office lies a small red button and above it a plaque reads, "In case of emergency, contact the Houston Astros."
Okay, so none of that is true, but the Astros have been a favorite trading partner for the Phillies over the last decade or so, and Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly is reporting that Ruben Amaro Jr. may be dialing up the Astros (now under new management) once again.
Salisbury cites "baseball sources" in reporting that the Phillies are in "serious talks" with the Astros about landing right-handed reliever Wilton Lopez.
The Phillies may be on the verge of trading for a late-game relief pitcher. Baseball sources say the team is in serious talks with the Houston Astros about acquiring righthander Wilton Lopez.
Why are the Phillies interested in Lopez?
The Phillies list of priorities this season has been pretty well defined, and while they haven't addressed their top need just yet (center field), acquiring Lopez would help them fill a big secondary need—setup man.
Lopez has been under the radar for a few seasons now. He pounds the strike zone and gets a ton of ground balls, which would play well in Citizens Bank Park. He throws four pitches—a fastball, sinker, splitter and slider—and all of them were above average pitches in 2012 according to FanGraphs.
His fastball sits comfortably in the mid 90s, but his sinker was his best pitch in 2012, also according to FanGraphs.
If the trade goes through, Lopez could be just what the doctor ordered for the Phillies' bullpen. He is under team control through the 2016 season and is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter.
I will have a full breakdown of the trade once it is announced.
The Phillies are going to add an outfielder this winter. That much is a given. Just what kind of outfielder they add (or how many) is still kind of up in the air. If the club strikes out on a center fielder, one player that they could turn to is right fielder Nick Swisher.
One of the better hitters on the market at what should be a more affordable price than the likes of Josh Hamilton, Swisher's market is said to be strong, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is now reporting that the Phillies are showing interest.
Phillies a fit for Swisher?
I still don't see this being a great fit for the Phillies unless they can't find a center fielder—and the free agent market is flush with center fielders, even if they can't get the one they want.
If the Phils allocate a nice chunk of change to Swisher, they're still left without a center fielder. His market is strong and the former New York Yankee will not come cheap.
So who plays center field? John Mayberry Jr.? Domonic Brown?
I think Swisher signs elsewhere.
One of the Phillies' top priorities this offseason is to add an eighth inning setup man that will help to solidify the back end of their bullpen in front of Jonathan Papelbon. One name that has come up often is Ryan Madson.
Madson is rehabbing following a lost season to Tommy John surgery and could be open to pitching as a setup man, but the will to close is still there. He'll likely be looking for a one-year deal to re-establish his trade value and, according to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, the Los Angeles Angels are moving in quick.
Doesn't look like Ryan Madson will be a Phillie. Hear things are hot with Angels. #Philliestalk— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) November 25, 2012
Madson to the Angels?
Seems like a good fit for the former Phils closer.
While there have been rumblings that Madson wouldn't mind pitching in a setup role, it is no secret that he wants to close games. The Angels, who do have some competition for him in Jordan Walden and Ernesto Frieri, are a better landing spot for him if he's looking to fight his way up the depth chart.
With that being said, the Phillies will be crossing one of the best options off of their wish list if Madson does wind up with the Halos.
Another year, another fire sale for the Miami Marlins. This time, the club really cleaned shop. They sent a pair of All-Star caliber pitchers (Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle) and one of the game's best shortstops (Jose Reyes) to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of a mega-deal.
One of the few players that didn't move in that trade was burgeoning superstar Giancarlo Stanton, who expressed displeasure with the deal at the time the news broke and now, is garnering interest from the Phillies—as well as just about every other team—according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Marlins — It would be a coup for whichever of the 25 teams (I’m exaggerating) that would or have bid for him to actually acquire him. But commissioner Bud Selig is watching the Marlins closely after the salary dump in the Blue Jays deal. While Selig did not step in to change or block that trade, he may not look too fondly upon a deal for the Marlins’ biggest draw. Teams would have to give their very best to the Marlins for baseball’s best young slugger. The Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, Cubs, and many more are inquiring, according to a major league source.
Can the Phillies pull off a deal for Stanton?
If Stanton were playing right field for any team but the Marlins, I'd laugh this off with a solid "hell no." But he's playing right field for those Marlins—the club that swings a deal for anyone with a little bit of trade value.
There are few players in the game with more trade value than Stanton. He has tremendous power, is under team control through the 2017 season, won't be eligible for arbitration until after the 2014 campaign and has 93 home runs at age 23.
The Phillies would have to unload to get a player of Stanton's caliber—and not just top prospects. The Marlins would likely have interest in players like Vance Worley and Domonic Brown as well.
Is Stanton worth this kind of deal? I think the answer is yes, but it is definitely a long shot for the Phils.
We all knew that it was only a matter of time. One of the Phillies' biggest voids since the last trade deadline has been a right-handed bat with power and one player that fits that mold is Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins.
While they've given no indication that he is, teams have to be wondering about Stanton's availability following the Marlins' fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, and according to Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet, if the Marlins will listen, the Phillies will talk.
Amaro would be in violation of MLB tampering rules if he discussed any pursuit of Stanton, but he was asked nonetheless if Miami’s fire sale tempted him to pick up the phone and inquire about the type of right-handed power bat that the Phillies have long craved. Amaro smiled sheepishly at the question.
“We’ve made some inquiries about a lot of players that went in that trade, both to Toronto and to Miami,” he said. “But nothing imminent so far.”
The Phillies, like every other team in the majors, will continue to monitor Stanton’s availability.
Are the Phillies interested in Stanton?
Of course they are, but it's time to bust out the good old "grain of salt."
The Marlins hung on to Stanton for a reason. He has unrivaled power, is just 23 years old and won't even be eligible for salary arbitration until the conclusion of the 2014 season. Even the Marlins can deal with an All-Star level talent if he's cheap enough.
And then again, teams know that the Marlins will deal him for the right package. If that's the case, the Phillies will call and ask about the right fielder, but a deal seems like the longest of shots.
First and foremost, you always have to worry about trading talent within the division—especially when said talent is under control for several seasons. The Marlins aren't going anywhere fast and I'm not sure that they're worried about alienating what's left of the fan base, but watching Stanton play for the Phillies until at least the end of the 2017 season wouldn't be easy to stomach.
And that's a statement that works both ways. If I'm running the Marlins, any conversation with the Phillies starts with right-handed pitcher Vance Worley and outfielder Domonic Brown. Looking at the Phillies' farm system, I'd look to load up on pitching as well, asking about prospects Jesse Biddle, Trevor May and Jonathan Pettibone.
The point is this: The Phillies would have to trade several of their best young players to the Marlins for Stanton. In the long run, it could be worth while. But it could also blow up in their faces. And those are the challenges of dealing within the division.
Thanksgiving is officially in the books and now, all eyes are on the Winter Meetings to be held the week of December 3. However, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ruben Amaro Jr. and company are already making some depth moves.
"[Josh] Fields is the Phillies' first minor-league free agent signing, as reported by Baseball America. He'll come to spring training looking to win a bench job but is probably ticketed for triple-A Lehigh Valley for depth."
Who is Josh Fields and why does he matter?
How desperate are the Phillies to find a potential solution at third base?
At a glance, this is only a depth move. The Phillies will be keeping last season's third baseman for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Kevin Frandsen) and needed to replace him. That's where Fields will begin the year.
But this is a former highly touted rookie who once hit 23 home runs for the Chicago White Sox. The Phillies caught lightning in a bottle with guys like Frandsen and Erik Kratz. Maybe they can do it again with Fields.
At the very least, this is a solid depth move.
With the third highest payroll in the game and plenty of veterans already locked up to expensive contracts, it came as a bit of a surprise to see the Phillies interested in Josh Hamilton, but Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that said interest may have faded.
Agents who have spoken with the Phillies say that despite their pursuit of both a center fielder and right fielder this winter, one option who apparently is no longer on their list isJosh Hamilton.
There are a couple of interesting parts to that statement. This first is that the Phillies are looking for both a center fielder and a "right" fielder. Now obviously, the club can't afford to sign both Hamilton and one of the market's best center fielders (B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, etc.), so they could be moving closer to a decision there.
Stark also quoted Ruben Amaro Jr., however, and he seemed to have a different approach to the Phillies' payroll, one that—in my opinion—was spoken with Hamilton in mind.
Amaro wouldn't comment on any specific free agent, but said people who think the Phillies don't have the wiggle room to make a big signing are mistaken.
"I don't know that yet," he said. "We haven't been given a real budget. I know it's not unlimited, but that's not usually how we work. There are limitations, but each situation is unique, in and of itself. We didn't budget for Cliff Lee. But we signed Cliff Lee. We haven't budgeted for a bunch of things we've done. Each situation is different."
Those of us who thought that there was "no chance" the Phillies would sign Cliff Lee prior to the 2011 season learned something. I'm not counting the Phillies out of the Hamilton sweepstakes just yet. Not until they've signed a center fielder or he has signed somewhere else.
The Phillies have enough work ahead to keep themselves occupied through this offseason, but the 2014 offseason is going to be equally as busy for Ruben Amaro Jr. and company.
With players like Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz slated to hit the open market following the season, the Phillies will need to be open about signing these guys to contract extensions, and Jayson Stark of ESPN is reporting that they've already touched base with their ace.
Will the Phillies extend Halladay?
This one may end up being a waiting game since Halladay didn't have the healthiest year of his career in 2012, but assuming that he is healthy now and will be through the early portion of the season, I think they'll agree to a new deal.
When healthy, Halladay is one of the best pitchers in the game with ease and the Phillies know that. Even if he's not at the top of his game, keeping "Doc" in Philly just makes sense for this club.
If there is a guy who is on the free agent market, pitches and breathes, the Phillies are probably going to have some level of interest in him this offseason and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that you can add former Texas Rangers right-handed reliever Koji Uehara to that list.
The Phillies, in their search for a setup man, are asking around about Rangers righty Koji Uehara, whose $4 million salary in 2013 might be more than Texas is willing to pay.
Uehara a fit for the Phils?
While Rosenthal's report makes it sounds like the Rangers are still tied to Uehara, they're not. The right-handed reliever became a free agent at the end of the season and it comes as no surprise that the Phillies are interested.
But what will Uehara be asking for?
He was dominant last season and should have no problem getting at least the $4 million per season he made with the Rangers in 2012. He's also 37 years old, and the Phillies should be nothing short of leery following their Jose Contreras fiasco.
In the long run, however, I like Uehara as a fit for the Phillies. As with any free agent, it's all about the price. If you can get Uehara for something like two-years and $10-12 million, it wouldn't be the worst deal.
Though, I do wonder if the Phillies really need to add a pricey setup man given the youth in their bullpen.
You can file this one under "strange and unlikely"—the Phillies are in "tire kicking mode" about free agent first baseman and outfielder Lance Berkman, according to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle.
— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) November 19, 2012
Is Berkman a possibility for the Phillies?
This is probably more "due diligence" than anything.
With Ryan Howard firmly entrenched at first base, the Phillies would be looking at Berkman to man one of their corner outfield positions. The fit really isn't all that visible.
Berkman has become notoriously bad against left-handed pitching and he won't help the Phillies' need for right-handed power. Berkman considered retirement following his latest knee procedure and likely wouldn't be able to play the field all that much.
Can't see this one having legs.
This has been the speculation for some time now, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is finally shedding some light on just how interested the Phillies are in free agent slugger Josh Hamilton.
The Phillies are eyeing Upton and Bourn at the moment. That could be because both those players are center fielders in their 20s or because of the price or both.
But the Phillies are at least known to be looking at Hamilton. "I don't think there's a whole lot we're not considering," Phillies president and CEO Dave Montgomery said when asked specifically about Hamilton.
Not a bad Plan A, but an excellent Plan B.
When you look at the Phillies' hierarchical list of needs at the moment, the need for a center fielder sits comfortably atop the rest. Hamilton is not an ideal center fielder. Defensively speaking, he is a step slower than the rest of the pack and is noticeably more comfortable in left field.
Heyman names Upton and Bourn as the Phillies' top targets this offseason, and I suspect that their interest level is in that order. Either is a significantly better defender in center field than Hamilton.
But if these options dry up (and there is plenty of interest in both Upton and Bourn), Hamilton would not be a bad fall back option for the Phillies. It means that Upton and Bourn would have set the bar and the Phillies could afford Hamilton.
He'd be a game-changer in their lineup and a treat to watch in Citizens Bank Park, but only if the price is right.
Heyman also gives a good rundown of the interest level of each team in the Hamilton sweepstakes. Definitely worth a read.
Grain of salt alert: The Phillies met with free agent outfielder BJ Upton this week, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
I mention that a report like this should be taken with a grain of salt because it isn't really indicative of anything outside of a club having interest in a free agent, and we already knew the Phillies were plenty interested in Upton.
Are the Phillies closer to signing Upton?
The fact of the matter here is that top tier free agents will visit several teams and the Phillies are among the most interested in Upton. The fact that he visited with the Phillies is a mere indication that the interest is mutual, but is he any closer to making a decision?
You can follow his official Twitter account to find out, but if this tweet is any indication, I think this will be a lengthy process.
Here's what we know: The Phillies are interested in Upton. Upton is interested in the Phillies. But these kind of deals take time.
If you thought that the Phillies were comfortable with one or some combination of Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis playing third base full-time next season, it's time to think again.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting that the Phillies are casting a wide net in their search for someone to man the hot corner and have already considered several possibilities.
#Phillies "wide open" in their search for a third baseman. Could look at multi-position types like Scutaro/Keppinger as well as Youk, etc.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 13, 2012
Who plays third base for the Phillies in 2013?
In my mind, Kevin Youkilis makes the most sense. The Phillies need a right-handed bat with some pop, and while Youkilis is most certainly on the decline, you have to imagine that there is good value in having him on a one or two-year deal.
Marco Scutaro could be an interesting option, but it looks as though the San Francisco Giants have the best shot at signing him and he doesn't provide the caliber of offense the Phillies are looking for.
The same could be said for Jeff Keppinger, who is more of a solid platoon option than anything. Another platoon guy to keep an eye on is Eric Chavez, who could be the left-handed bat alongside Frandsen or Galvis.
Josh Hamilton's free agent case is going to be one of the most interesting cases of all-time, and that's probably the most conservative statement that can be made about his offseason.
As expected, the Phillies are leaving no stone unturned in their search for a center fielder, and Buster Olney of ESPN has the latest on their level of interest in Hamilton.
The Phillies are OK with the high annual salary that Josh Hamilton might command, but they have concerns about the length of the deal.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 12, 2012
How realistic of an option is Josh Hamilton for the Phillies?
I almost wrote off Hamilton as a realistic option for the Phillies, but this bit of information changes things for me. If the Phillies feel as though they can take on another large salary, this could change the landscape for all of their targets—not just Hamilton.
But as far as Hamilton is concerned, this is no surprising. Pundits expected this to be a theme for the slugger this winter and it already is. Teams don't want to commit to Hamilton given his injury.
If the Phillies are willing to a throw a lot of money at him on a short-term deal (say, three years), then I think the chances of getting a deal done are a little better than 50%.
The Phillies have a veteran clubhouse and I imagine that the dimensions of Citizens Bank Park would intrigue Hamilton. I can't see the Phillies guaranteeing more than three years though, which would impede any negotiations.
One of the things that the Phillies' lineup sorely missed last season was right-handed power in the middle of the order and they are already pursuing a few names to fill that void. Now, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, you can throw Cody Ross' name into the mix.
The Phillies are among the teams talking with Cody Ross.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 12, 2012
How serious are the Phillies about Cody Ross?
This is an interesting conversation and one that I'm sure we will have until the roster is settled: How interested should the Phillies really be in corner outfielders?
In Ross, we are talking about a guy who cannot help them in their biggest area of need—center field. Ross would slot into left field with Domonic Brown in right and help out the lineup.
With any corner outfielder, at least as far as the Phillies are concerned, it will all come down to price. If the Phillies can get a guy like Ross at a reasonable price (say two years and less than $20 million), I think they'll be interested.
However, I think Ross will get a much better deal than that and go to the highest bidder.
Ken Davidoff of the New York Post dropped an interesting little nugget about the Phillies and a top free agent target this morning while listing his top free agents in order of who he thinks will sign first.
B.J. Upton . The Phillies like to move aggressively. They need a centerfielder. Upton is very intrigued by the Phillies. He's represented by Reynolds, Hunter's agent, who can operate at a swift pace. There, we're done. Onto the next deal.
Read more: Which Big Name Free Agent Will Sign First?
Davidoff also lists Upton fourth on his list, behind Zack Greinke, Hiroki Kuroda and Torii Hunter.
Are the Phillies closing in on Upton?
If you've been following this offseason tracker since day one, you would know that the Phillies have already shown interest in the free agent center fielder.
Now Lennon is reporting that Upton is "intrigued" by the Phillies as well. It's a good fit. He has ties to the Phillies (new hitting coach Steve Henderson and assistant general manager Bart Braun have Tampa Bay Rays ties) and the Phillies have the need.
Frankly, I'd be surprised if this deal doesn't get done.
This has been the speculation all along given their need, but Ken Rosenthal can finally back the speculation with a couple of sources: The Phillies are interested in signing free agent Kevin Youkilis this winter.
The White Sox and Phillies are interested in Youkilis, according to major league sources.
Interestingly enough, Rosenthal also goes on to point out that the Los Angeles Dodgers are interested in Youkilis as well, and that teams are a bit nervous that the Dodgers can spend their way to whatever free agent they want.
Will the Phillies sign Youkilis?
I still think that there is a good chance that a deal like this gets done. The Dodgers throwing around absurd amounts of money is obviously going to complicate the situation a bit, but the Phillies have the need and the money.
In case it wasn't obvious already, the Phillies are going to be interested in Michael Bourn this winter. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirmed that interest on Friday night when he suggested that the Phillies were "among the favorites" to sign the speedy outfielder.
The Nationals and Phillies have long been seen as among the favorites to land the speedy center fielder, but Danny Knobler identified on Friday the Reds are another possibility, and sources suggest even the Red Sox are considering Bourn.
Will the Phillies land Bourn?
Does Bourn really help the Phillies?
He is a left-handed speed demon who can only decline as he ages. There isn't much room for upside here and he certainly doesn't solve the Phillies' need for some right-handed power.
At this stage of the game, I see Bourn as more of a "Plan B." B.J. Upton just seems to be the better fit early in the offseason.
With just one outfielder penciled in on their Opening Day roster (and even that point is debatable), the Phillies seem to be scouring every corner of the market for outfielders. Early on, they haven't limited themselves to center fielders—their biggest need.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that the Phillies are one of the teams to express early interest in free agent right fielder Nick Swisher.
The Mariners, Orioles, Phillies, Giants, Braves and Nationals are all believed to have some level of interest. Several teams seem willing to go to at least three years, with the likely salary figure estimated to be in the $11 million to $13 million range. With so many teams possibly interested there's a very good chance he'll be able to get at least a four-year deal.
Is Swisher a fit for the Phillies?
On paper, Swisher is a fit. He is a switch hitter and a solid defender in right field that would help the Phillies in a number of ways.
Would they be able to afford him? On the low end of Heyman's spectrum, maybe. But there are teams that absolutely need a guy like Swisher and will make him a much better offer than one the Phillies could afford for a corner outfielder.
I don't see this happening.
To what extent will the Phillies go void their gaping hole in the outfield (and the middle of the order)? According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Ruben Amaro Jr. and company may go pretty far.
Rosenthal has been speaking to baseball executives this week at the annual general manager meetings and "two industry sources" have told him that the Phillies are "quietly checking on [Josh Hamilton]."
Are the Phillies really a favorite to sign Hamilton?
Though Rosenthal notes that Hamilton could go to one of four teams included in that article—including the Phillies—they are far from a favorite.
Rosenthal goes on to note that Hamilton doesn't necessarily fit the Phillies' plans (though he managed a higher OPS against left-handed pitchers than the well-rumored B.J. Upton) and they probably don't have the funds to make this kind of deal.
With that being said, my personal opinion is that if Hamilton's price comes down far enough for the Phillies, they'll make a play. But that could take a while, and Amaro has always been the kind of GM to strike quickly.
Don't think for a second that Upton—or any other free agent center fielder—is going to hang around long enough for Hamilton's price to drop that far.
One of the biggest holes the Phillies will look to fill this offseason is the third base position, so getting one of their few in-house option's contract situation resolved was a priority.
Kevin Frandsen would have been eligible for arbitration later this offseason, but he and the Phillies have already agreed to a new contract for the 2013 season, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
#phillies did sign kevin frandsen
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 9, 2012
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN would later add that the deal guarantees Frandsen $850,000, but incentives could raise the deal to a total of $1.2 million.
Is Frandsen in the running for the Phillies' third base job?
The only answer right now can be "yes" because he and Freddy Galvis are the only viable options on the roster, but this deal won't stop the Phillies from pursuing an everyday third baseman.
At worst, Frandsen is a solid utility man for the Phillies who can step in and provide a good at-bat. Not a bad player to have on your club.
The Phillies have quite a few question marks in the outfield heading into the offseason and according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, one possible solution for the club is former Los Angeles Angels outfielder Torii Hunter.
torii hunter looks like a coveted man on market. should get multiyear. bos, nyy, phi, tex, det, etc. cbsprt.co/Rid5jC
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 7, 2012
Will the Phillies sign Hunter?
Can't see it happening.
Sure, Hunter is right-handed and has hit for a bit of power in the past. Sure, he is a great defensive outfielder that showed he is fully capable of playing a corner outfield spot full-time in 2012, and yes, the Phillies have a need for all of those things.
But Hunter is also 37 years old and looking for a multi-year contract. The Phillies have bigger fish to fry (center field, third base) and I can't see them making a multi-year commitment to Hunter with those holes still yet to be filled.
The Phillies have been linked to former Tampa Bay Rays outfielder B.J. Upton by speculation ever since the Phils dealt Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer and created a void in center field. Now, multiple outlets are reporting that the Phillies are the early favorites to land Upton.
Baseball officials still see the Nationals as the favorites for Bourn, while the Phillies are seen as an early favorite for Upton.
In a different piece, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports speculates on whether or not recent Phillies hires with ties to Upton are an indication of a bigger move in the future:
Well, maybe not a rat, but a pair of embedded ex-Raysofficials who know Upton quite well recently assumed prominent positions with the Phils.
Those hires are Bart Braun, a former Rays scout who is now a special assistant to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., and Steve Henderson, a former Rays hitting coach who now fills the same role for the Phillies.
It should be noted that Amaro denied that these hires have any association with a pursuit of Upton and are sheer coincidence. But as Rosenthal passes along in that article, "there are no coincidences in baseball."
The Phillies have plenty of holes to fill this winter and should have some interest in bringing back a few familiar faces. At least, that's what Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News believes in this opinion piece.
When the Phillies traded Shane Victorino last summer, many believed that they were cutting ties with him, but Lawrence believes that he can be the best fit this winter:
At least in the case of Shane Victorino, it’s not just if the price is right but also if other, possibly more intriguing options turn out to be bad fits (read: asking for more money than they are worth).
One of the less pressing areas of need this winter is the bullpen, where the Phillies have a number of high-upside arms at their disposal, but that hasn't stopped manager Charlie Manuel from practically begging for a veteran setup man.
A couple of former Phillies closers are on the market, and they could both fill that void this winter, according to Lawrence:
Brett Myers became a free agent for the second time in four years when the Chicago White Six wisely rejected a $10 million club option on his contract this week. Myers got a pretty nice parting gift on the way out: a $3 million buyout.
Of course a more intriguing free agent reliever is Myers’ old buddy, Ryan Madson. The 32-year-old Madson hasn’t thrown a pitch in a major league game in 13 months, since he threw the final 14 pitches for the Phillies in Game 5 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals two Octobers ago.
How many former Phillies will rejoin the club this winter?
Personally, my guess is one.
The Phillies desperately need a center fielder, but as Lawrence mentions in his article, they seem set on trying to change the approach offensively. Guys like B.J. Upton and Michael Bourn seem like more likely targets at this point. I don't think they'll reunite with Victorino.
Myers is an interesting name, but the fit doesn't seem great. I don't think he'll be at the top of the Phillies wishlist given the other options.
If I had to pick one name to rejoin the Phillies, it would be Madson. He makes a ton of sense on a one-year deal with incentives as he tries to recover from Tommy John surgery and the Phillies look to fill their need for a setup man.