While other teams in the NL East have been making major moves this offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies have been quiet.
The Atlanta Braves signed B.J. Upton and the Washington Nationals traded for Denard Span, taking two center fielders off the market that would have helped the Phillies lineup. The New York Mets signed David Wright to a seven-year contract extension. And the Miami Marlins traded five players to the Toronto Blue Jays.
But the Phillies and general manager Ruben Amaro finally kick-started their offseason on Thursday and got the center fielder they needed.
As reported by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, Philadelphia acquired center fielder Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins and paid a pretty heavy price to fill a glaring need. Going to the Twins are pitchers Vance Worley and Trevor May.
Worley went 6-9 with a 4.20 ERA this past season for the Phillies. He was much better in 2011, compiling an 11-3 record and 3.01 ERA, and the general consensus was that Worley's numbers didn't exactly reflect what sort of pitcher he was. That may have shown itself with his 2012 performance.
Still, a one-for-one trade of Worley for Revere would have been seen as reasonable. Including May in the package, however, tips the deal in the Twins' favor.
May was the Phillies' No. 1 prospect this year, as rated by Baseball America. He didn't have a strong 2012, posting a 10-13 record and 4.87 ERA in 28 starts for Double-A Reading. May still profiles as a strikeout pitcher, however, averaging 9.1 K's per nine innings.
Revere, meanwhile, isn't eligible for arbitration until after the 2014 season. That means the Phillies won't have to pay him much for the next two years.
But he's also under club control for six years altogether, through 2018, according to The Morning Call's Mandy Housenick. Still, that's a hefty price for a player who's shown in his two full seasons that he's a capable major league center fielder and leadoff hitter.
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article asking if the Phillies would trade starting pitching to help plug some holes in the lineup. Obviously, the answer to that question is yes.
Amaro now doesn't have to worry about center field for a long time. Yet he still needs to fill a few spots on his roster. Giving up a back-of-the-rotation starter and a pitching prospect leaves the Phillies with fewer resources to do that.
At the top of the shopping list has to be a corner outfielder who hits right-handed and for power.
Nick Swisher fills that criteria nicely. Though he's a switch-hitter that would bat left-handed most of the time, Swisher would turn around and bat right-handed against southpaws. He could fill in at first base for Ryan Howard under those circumstances.
Swisher will be expensive, however. Amaro didn't want to give B.J. Upton the five-year, $75.25 million deal he received from the Braves.
However, that may have been due to doubts about his ability to hit for contact and get on base. Swisher did strike out 141 times this year, but his .364 on-base percentage would have been third in the Phillies lineup behind Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley.
A less pricey option could be Cody Ross, who almost certainly isn't going to re-sign with the Boston Red Sox after they added Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino to their outfield. The Phillies may have to compete with the Yankees to sign Ross, but the Yanks have been frugal this offseason and could surely be outbid.
While Young's best days are behind him (he had a .682 OPS this year) and his defense at third base is below average, he would definitely be a useful right-handed bat for the Phillies lineup. According to ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett, the deal is contingent on Young waiving his no-trade clause and agreeing to go to Philadelphia.
Trading for Young would leave money available to spend on other positions as well.
Among free-agent third basemen, Kevin Youkilis is the best player available, but the Phillies likely want a longer-term solution there. The Yankees reportedly offered him a one-year, $13 million contract, which might be more than Philadelphia wants to pay.
Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis could be in-house solutions. Or perhaps Amaro takes a chance on someone like Chone Figgins. Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi said the Phillies have indeed checked in on Figgins, who was released by the Mariners.
One more item on Amaro's list is a reliever who can set up for closer Jonathan Papelbon.
The Phillies thought they had their man with Wilton Lopez, but a deal with the Houston Astros fell through, presumably because Philadelphia didn't like how Lopez's elbow looked. Lopez has since been traded to the Colorado Rockies, which is curious.
But since there's been so little movement on the free-agent market while Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton decide where they'll sign, Amaro will probably be able to wait until late into the offseason to find some arms that fit what the Phillies are looking for.
Brandon Lyon, Jon Rauch and Francisco Rodriguez are just a few of the many relievers available. Philadelphia should be in position to get a good one.
The Phillies appeared to be running behind in the NL East after the Braves signed Upton. That was probably a reactionary view with so many players still available. And now, it's looking as if Amaro's patience may be yielding some benefits.
Getting the center fielder was key. That was going to be either the most expensive signing or difficult trade to pull off, but now the Phillies have Revere. The Phillies' other offseason moves will begin to fall into place from here.
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