With the offseason officially upon us, the Philadelphia Phillies will look to retool through free agency this winter. Next season, they will pursue their third World Series appearance since 2008.
General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has many obvious free-agent choices that will without a doubt improve their organization. But this isn't always the best approach: just look at how the Anaheim Angels turned out in 2012 after dumping millions upon millions of dollars on a few highly prized free agents.
Sometimes success is born through calculated risk and diversification, which Amaro has struggled with since taking over the helm.
Here are five free agents who won't break the Phillies bank and have the potential to help lead the team back to the playoffs in 2013.
Melky Cabrera was having an MVP-type season before being caught with enhanced levels of testosterone. Had he not been caught he would have signed a huge offseason deal worth millions; given his recent controversy, he will be a serious risk for any team in 2013.
Another cause for concern is what Cabrera will bring to the clubhouse if he comes to Philadelphia. The way he conducted himself with his Giant teammates after the suspension was not something you look for when trying to establish a tight-knit organization. Then again, baseball is a business where wins can mask almost any other problem.
With such great risk could come great reward, and Ruben Amaro could acquire Cabrera for a modest price, given the type of production he might provide the Phillies.
Also, Amaro may be able to sign him on a one-year deal that is heavy with performance incentives, clearing the GM of virtually any risk.
The Phillies' current roster does not have one legitimate everyday outfielder, so Amaro is going to have to be creative when assembling that unit.
He could start by making a run at Cabrera.
One of the biggest Phillie killers in recent memory, Cody Ross crushed all the Phillies hopes of returning to a third consecutive World Series in 2010, when he led his San Francisco Giants to a world title.
Ross had a very productive 2012 and came at a modest price. He made only $3 million in 2012, down from $6.3 million in 2011. He hit .267 with 22 home runs, 81 RBI and an OBP of .326.
He could fill the Phillies need for a right-handed power hitter while manning one of their corner outfield spots.
Ross is likely seeking a multi-year deal somewhere in the range of $5-$7 million dollars per season. A two- or three-year deal may work for the Phillies, but they will have to try to lure him away from the Boston Red Sox.
Could a reunion be in store for Shane Victorino and the Philadelphia Phillies?
Not only is it possible, but such a reunion also might be a very economical decision if the Phillies cannot land one of the prized free-agent center fielders: B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn.
Victorino could also play a corner outfield spot. If they are able to sign a guy like Upton, Victorino could then play right, which would allow them to platoon Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf in left.
Everyone who watched the Phillies in 2012 could see that the pressure really got to Victorino. He was trying to lead a team without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley while at the same time playing for a long-term contract.
I honestly believe whoever signs Victorino will be getting a free-agent steal. He will most likely seek a three- to four-year deal.
Given Victorino's down year in 2012, the Phillies will have to keep an eye on the market to see what is his annual worth, but I doubt he will make the $9.5 million he received in 2012.
If the price and years are right, the Phillies should consider bringing back Victorino in some capacity.
The Phillies bullpen was riddled with injuries in 2012 and most of the pitchers who remained healthy struggled to pitch well. The eighth inning was a major problem and needs to be addressed this offseason.
Someone who could solve that problem is former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, who is coming off a solid season with the Cincinnati Reds, for whom he split time between closing and pitching the eighth inning.
Broxton threw 58 innings with 45 strikeouts, 17 walks, 27 saves, a 1.26 WHIP and a 2.48 ERA. The biggest concern with Broxton is that he did blow six saves in 2012. On the bright side, he will not be closing for the Phillies.
If Broxton is used in a set-up role for Papelbon, some of the added pressure will be taken off of the former's shoulders.
In 2012, Broxton made $4 million and will most likely earn around the same in 2013. It seems like Broxton has been around forever, but he is only 28 (turning 29 in mid-June) and could bring some veteran leadership to a young Phillies bullpen.
Third base has been an offensive concern for the Phillies since Scott Rolen abruptly left town. 2012 was no different until Kevin Frandsen arrived late in the season from Triple-A.
The Phillies desperately need some power from the hot corner in 2013. their in-house options have beem little to none and their third base prospect Cody Asche is still a year or two away from contributing at the major league level.
With the team's need to fill outfield and bullpen holes, the Phillies need a short-term solution for third base at an affordable price.
Chavez hit .281 with 16 home runs, 37 RBI, 30 BB, .348 OBP and an .845 OPS in only 278 at-bats. Not bad for only $900,000. He can also play a little first base and take over the role Ty Wigginton could not fill in 2012.