It may be a long shot to actually happen, but free agent Josh Hamilton could be exactly what the Philadelphia Phillies need.
In the midst of one of their most disappointing seasons in recent memory, the Phillies traded away their top two outfielders, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino.
While Pence and Victorino yielded decent returns, the Phillies still have some work to do to prepare them for next season, but even more work to do for their future.
The Phillies' core is getting old—Chase Utley is 33, Ryan Howard is 32, Roy Halladay is 35 and Cliff Lee and Jimmy Rollins are 34. While Hamilton isn't that young himself at 31, he only broke into the league in 2007, when he played 90 games with the Cincinnati Reds, so he has a lot less wear on his tires.
The Phillies need outfielders, and while Hamilton is best in center, he can play any of the three outfield positions. Signing him would give the Phillies a lot of leeway with how they want to approach rebuilding the rest of the outfield.
Hamilton's biggest contribution would be his bat. In the four seasons where he played more than 120 games, Hamilton averaged roughly 170 hits, 33 home runs and 113 RBIs.
Over his entire six-year career, Hamilton has a .304 BA, .363 OBP and .549 slugging percentage. He would provide an instant boost to a Phillies team that struggled at times, with Utley and Howard looking less and less like the sluggers they were a couple years ago.
Hamilton brings some baggage with him, but Phillies fans are in need of a boost heading into next season, and there's no other free agent that would pick up an entire city like Hamilton.
Philadelphia has dealt with baggage before, and will embrace any player that gives their all on the field and helps the team win, which is exactly what Hamilton will do.
He is not only a great hitter but a smart all-around baseball player who plays a good outfield, possessing underrated athleticism and a strong arm.
Hamilton would be pricy, but the big contracts of Utley and Halladay come off the books after next season and the Phillies get to choose how they want to spend that money.
With a new big left-handed bat in the lineup, the Phillies could try to dump Ryan Howard and his huge contract. While it'd be difficult to find a team willing to take it on, crazier things have happened, especially if a team is making a playoff push and is in need of a guy like Howard.
The Phillies need to make a push for Hamilton. He would bring a big bat, fill a huge hole in the outfield and provide a general spark to a Phillies organization while re-instilling a little hope into the fan base.