True or false? Fact or fiction?
We are not even a full month into the offseason, and already we have seen the Philadelphia Phillies linked to almost every warm body capable of playing center field or third base—and those aren't their only holes to fill.
With so much technology and a constant stream of information flowing about the offseason in today's game, it is important to approach the winter with a grain of salt and a heaping helping of common sense.
The Phillies are more than a professional sports team. They're also a business. They operate under a budget and cannot overspend in certain areas while leaving other portions of the club bare, so keep that in mind when you hear them linked to guys like Zack Greinke, for example, whom they will not be signing.
So who do the Phillies have interest in? Glad you asked.
The slideshow will go through all of the popular rumors in Philadelphia and attempt to interpret which ones are "fact" and others that are "fiction.
If a player receives the "fact" label, it does not mean that he is going to sign with the Phillies. It means that the opportunity exits and is plausible. On the other hand, if a player is labeled "fiction," do not expect to see him with the Phillies next season.
One of the areas that the Phillies will look to address this winter is their eighth-inning setup role, and few guys have been as good in the eighth inning as consistently as Mike Adams has been over the last few seasons.
As with any reliever, it is all about the price, however. Even after having surgery to correct his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome this winter, Adams is still in line to demand a multi-year deal that pays him handsomely.
Would it be wise for the Phillies to commit to that kind of deal given the contract that they gave to Jonathan Papelbon and the number of young, inexpensive but talented arms coming through their system? I'm not so sure.
But if Adams can be had at the right price, the Phillies will be interested.
I don't think that Peter Bourjos is as available as people make him out to be. The thought was that the Los Angeles Angels had enough depth in the outfield to trade him, but now that Torii Hunter is a member of the Detroit Tigers, that depth appears to have been a mirage.
With Vernon Wells having shown no signs of significant improvement and Mark Trumbo a transplanted infield, the only other outfielders currently on the depth chart are Bourjos, Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun.
The Halos will be asking for quite a bit for him, and while the potential is there, you are certainly taking a risk given the way 2012 went for the speedy centerfielder.
Broxton has a horrible history pitching in Citizens Bank Park, and while that may be against the Phillies, I think those concerns will be at the forefront of any potential deal.
He also has a pretty lengthy injury history, and if they are going to take a risk, I think the Phils will target someone with higher upside (like Ryan Madson or Joakim Soria, for example).
Eric Chavez makes a good bit of sense for the Phillies, and I think they'll be interested. The fact of the matter is that their third base situation is not going to be a simple fix this winter. A strong platoon could be the answer.
With one half of a proposed platoon already in place (Kevin Frandsen or Freddy Galvis), a good left-handed bat could work well. That's where Chavez comes in.
The former Gold Glove winner and Silver Slugger spent the last couple of seasons playing backup to Alex Rodriguez in New York. He saw a bit more playing time in 2012 and responded by hitting .299 / .366 / .545 against right-handed pitchers with 16 home runs.
A platoon between Chavez and Frandsen could be a good one.
The Colorado Rockies are at the midway point between rebuilding and trying to build a contender, so I don't think they'd consider a guy like Dexter Fowler to be "untouchable." With that being said, I wouldn't part with much for him anyway.
Fowler is a career underachiever who seems to be on the brink of a real breakout season. He has the tools, but big home and road splits have scouts concerned that he is more a product of Coors Field than having made legitimate strides.
He'd be a solid backup plan for the Phils.
He may not be the perfect fit for the Phillies, but there is no doubt that they would be a significantly better offensive team with the addition of Josh Hamilton.
The odds are stacked against them. Hamilton is a left-handed hitter with injury concerns that is going to command a very high salary—even if it is on a short term deal—and the Phillies aren't playing with Monopoly money.
At this point in his career, Hamilton is also better suited to play left field and probably doesn't solve the Phillies' center field concerns in the short or long-term.
But if the price is right, Hamilton is a game-changer offensively. The Phillies would have to get creative in splitting their lefties (maybe moving Chase Utley into the two-hole and Carlos Ruiz into the third spot), but could definitely make room for Hamilton in their lineup.
The Phillies are and will be interested in Chase Headley as long as they have a black hole-sized gap at third base, but they're not going to pry him out of San Diego for anything less than a deal that would debilitate their farm system.
The fact of the matter is that the Padres aren't in a terrible position. They're moving in the fences a bit and have a solid lineup that made some noise at the end of the season.
If they can add some pitching, they'll contend. In that light, why move your best offensive player for anything short of a deal that lands you immediate, impact starting pitching?
The Phillies will cast a wide net to find a third baseman this winter, but probably won't sign one unless he represents a potential upgrade. I don't see that with Jeff Keppinger.
Keppinger is a good contact hitter that probably won't replicate his 2012 numbers with the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a right-handed hitter that handles left-handed pitching better than right-handed pitching, meaning that his ideal role is as a utility guy.
Does he represent an upgrade for the Phillies? I'm not so sure. He doesn't have much pop, and they could probably replicate the production he provides with some combination of Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen.
The real fact or fiction here is whether or not Ryan Madson is interested in returning to the Phillies.
The Phillies certainly have the need. Charlie Manuel expressed interest in having his team acquire a legitimate eighth-inning setup man this winter, and it is a role that Madson has thrived in for the Phillies in the past.
But he's a closer now. Even after missing all of last season and having Tommy John surgery, Madson will test the market as a closer under agent Scott Boras. If that search comes up short, the Phillies will be ready to make him an offer to return as their setup man.
Logan Morrison may be an intriguing name, but I don't see the Phillies sending prospects to a rebuilding Miami Marlins team in exchange for his services.
He has the offensive potential to make a deal worth the risk. Getting him out of Miami and into a clubhouse like the one in Philadelphia could be a boon for his career.
On the other hand, you have to worry about where he plays defensively. Most scouts believe that he suffered in 2012 because he was out of position in left field and noted that he was much more comfortable at first base.
If the Phillies are going to go that route, they might as well hand the job to Darin Ruf.
The Phillies are interested in Angel Pagan, but it seems as though he is more of a backup plan at this time, and that's not entirely unexpected.
When you look at the hierarchy of centerfielders, it goes something like this: Josh Hamilton is first because he is a game-changing offensive player. BJ Upton may have the most upside. Michael Bourn is an elite defender and top of the order bat.
After those three, you have a couple of free agents that aren't of the same caliber, but can certainly help. Pagan fits into that group.
Personally, I think the Phillies want a centerfielder who can make a noticeable difference. Because Hamilton is going to be risky, expensive and a left fielder in no time, Upton is the favorite in my eyes.
Pagan is the backup plan.
Cody Ross doesn't solve any of the Phillies' problems.
On paper, if you could get him at the right price, he would be a nice signing—a right-handed outfielder with some pop—something that the Phillies could certainly use.
But when you dig a bit deeper, you have to worry about the actual fit. Some people are convinced that his 2012 success was a result of playing his home games in Fenway Park, and a quick glance at his split statistics show that this could be the case.
He is not going to be able to play center field and is not going to be a game-changer offensively. I just don't see this as being a great fit for the Phillies unless their top targets sign elsewhere and they become desperate.
Marco Scutaro is a good player that is going to help whatever team he signs with in some way, shape or form, but I don't think that it is going to be the Phillies.
Scutaro is a career middle infielder coming off of what could be considered one of the best years of his career, and teams are going to view him in that light. The Phillies would be asking him to move to third base, and the resulting offensive production just would not be sufficient.
In my opinion, it is a situation eerily reminiscent to the one they were in with Placido Polanco, and I believe that both parties will go in a different direction.
What the Phillies really need in the eighth inning is a second closer, but guys who call themselves "closers" don't come cheap. That's why the Phils will be bargain shopping this winter.
One name to keep an eye on is Joakim Soria. The electric closer formerly of the Kansas City Royals is coming off of his second Tommy John surgery and will likely need to join a club on a one-year deal to re-establish his value.
If healthy, he could be one of the best setup men in baseball, but he won't be ready until early May, according to most reports.
If the Phillies' options on the free-agent market fall through, the guy I expect them to target in a trade is Denard Span.
He isn't the greatest fit because he is left-handed and doesn't have any power, but Span is a table-setter at the top of the order, and the Phillies could drastically use one of those.
Despite being left-handed, he manages left-handed pitching well, gets on base and has speed to burn. He is a great defensive centerfielder and is under team control at a friendly price for the next few seasons.
The real question here is about what it would take to get him. If I had to guess, the Minnesota Twins start the conversation with Vance Worley and can't pull the trigger without a starting pitcher close to the MLB.
Would the Miami Marlins make Giancarlo Stanton available? Well, it seems as though the Marlins would do just about anything if you threw enough money at them. With that being said, the Phillies aren't getting Stanton.
Even the Marlins know that trading a player like Stanton—under team control for several years—is incredibly valuable, especially to a division rival.
Without a doubt, the Marlins would ask for a slew of players from the Phillies that would likely include Domonic Brown, Vance Worley and a number of top prospects.
And it's not an unfair price.
Nick Swisher is a better fit than fellow corner outfielder Cody Ross on paper, but I don't see either being a realistic option for the Phillies this winter.
Several teams have more of a need, both offensive and defensively, for a guy like Swisher this offseason than the Phillies do. Take, for instance, teams like the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners—teams who have showed interest in the best position player this winter (Josh Hamilton), but probably can't afford to pay him.
Swisher is a great Plan B for those teams, and I can't see why they'd have a problem throwing an offer worth four years and somewhere between $52-60 million at him.
The Phillies can't afford that. They'd probably only be in the mix if his price fell rather drastically, and it won't.
The Phillies have plenty of interest in free-agent centerfielder BJ Upton, and rightfully so.
The club is looking for an above-average defense centerfielder that is right-handed, and Upton fits those criteria. He could also provide some pop at the top of the order and has game-changing speed.
If I was forced to pick one guy on this list that is most likely to wind up with the Phillies, it's Upton.
The Arizona Diamondbacks don't have to trade Justin Upton, and I think that's the point that is lost on most people as they put together speculative deals to pry him out of the desert, but from a Phillies perspective, it's the longest of shots.
The D'backs are reportedly looking for top shortstop and/or third base prospects in any deal for Upton, and unless they're willing to lower their standards for a defensive wizard like Freddy Galvis, a deal for Upton isn't happening.
I almost went with "fiction" for Shane Victorino, but the Phillies need a centerfielder in the worst way, and there is no doubt in my mind that they are going to keep all of their options open until that void is filled. It would be silly for me to do anything but the same here.
The greatest upside in a reunion with Victorino is that you know what you're getting. On a short-term deal, he could be one of the best penny-for-penny options. He expressed an interest to re-sign with Philly before it traded him as well.
But I think that the Phillies want to change their culture a bit. They need a new face in the lineup and a different look in center field.
If all of their other options fall though, I could see them calling Victorino and trying to get him at a discount rate. Otherwise, I don't think he comes back.
A few weeks ago, I would have called this "fiction" for the simple fact that it appeared as though the New York Mets and franchise player David Wright were closing in on a contract extension.
Now, multiple outlets are reporting that the Mets may not have the funds to re-sign some of their marquee players, namely Wright and newly-dubbed Cy Young RA Dickey.
Even if the Mets were to make Wright available, I can't see them trading him within the division to the Phillies, a former heated rival. They would likely ask for both a top positional player (Domonic Brown?) and pitcher (Vance Worley, Jesse Biddle, Trevor May?) just to kick the conversations off.
The Phillies would be trading a lot of talent under years of team control to a division rival for one season of Wright—and he isn't going to come cheap on his next contract.
The Phillies will be doing their due diligence on nearly every third baseman available this winter because their other options aren't all that great.
The best of the free-agent crop is Kevin Youkilis, and even coming off of a down year, he represents somewhat of an upgrade to incumbent Phillies third basemen Freddy Galvis (who has never played a game at the hot corner) and Kevin Frandsen.
If he can be had for a short-term contract at a reasonable price, the Phillies will certainly make a play for Youkilis.