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Philadelphia Phillies: Free Agents Phils Must Jump on Before They're Gone Too

It remains to be seen whether the Phillies want Nick Swisher, and whether they can afford him.
It remains to be seen whether the Phillies want Nick Swisher, and whether they can afford him.Leon Halip/Getty Images
Phil KeidelContributor IIDecember 17, 2012

The Philadelphia Phillies still have holes to fill and the number of useful free agents is dwindling. Quality free agents are coming off the board in rapid succession.

Further, there is the unshakeable feeling that if the Phillies were positioned to spend a lot of money on a big-ticket free agent, it would have happened by now. That it has not happened suggests strongly that it will not happen.

Center field was long thought to be where the Phillies would spend free-agent dollars this offseason. With the recent acquisition of Ben Revere, though, center field figures to be covered for a few years.

Revere should help defensively, but he adds another left-handed bat to a predominantly left-handed lineup. Additionally, Revere has never hit a major league home run, so he figures to do nothing to address the Phillies' power shortage.

More and more, it seems that the Phillies will have to make the best of an imperfect situation by settling for free-agent talent that does not exactly fit their needs.

The premier power-hitting outfielder left on the board is Nick Swisher.

He is a switch-hitter, but most of his power comes from the left side. And while he may not end up getting the type of money Jayson Werth got, he was talking about cash like that as recently as August.

The Phillies may be better served reaching down for the likes of Delmon Young, who hit .267 with 18 home runs and 74 runs batted in for the Detroit Tigers in 2012. Young is a right-handed hitter; he is only 27 years old and he's coming off ankle surgery. He could be signed for short years and/or short money.

Plus, signing Young would presumably keep the Phillies from settling on Cody Ross.

Phillies fans might have a hard time warming to Ross after his two home runs off Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the 2010 National League Championship Series started the Phillies on the course to disaster.

Besides, Ross' slash line of .267/22/81 is not much different from Young's .267/18/74. And Ross is four years older.

As for pitching, following the recent signings of Mike Adams and John Lannan, it is possible that the Phillies are finished looking to shore up their pitching staff.

But as last season proved, no one ever has enough quality pitching. Halladay and Cliff Lee both missed a number of turns in the rotation in 2012, and the starts from the likes of Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley could fairly be called "underwhelming."

The Phillies are exceptionally unlikely to commit significant money on a fourth starter to back up Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels (each of whom will earn over $20 million in 2012.) That probably rules out acquiring the likes of Edwin Jackson or even Shaun Marcum.

If the Phillies have any faith at all in Kendrick, Lannan and Tyler Cloyd, they might be better served trying to patch the last two rotation spots with those pitchers.

Signing a stopgap veteran like Freddy Garcia or Kevin Millwood (both ex-Phillies, incidentally) would probably do more to stunt the development of the players already in place than add value to the team.  

An intriguing name is Francisco Liriano. Granted, his split season with the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox in 2012 was pretty ugly: 6-12, 5.34 earned run average and a WHIP of 1.47.

But he is only 29, and is reportedly receptive to a one-year deal. Liriano is only two years removed from a 14-10 campaign in 2010 where he struck out 201 batters. If he is willing to sign with the Twins for one season, might he consider coming to Philadelphia under a similar arrangement?

One more good bullpen arm would not hurt. Kyle Farnsworth, Francisco Rodriguez and Matt Capps are all available, and they all have histories as closers and other relevant late-inning experience.

As the foregoing illustrates, the remaining free agents all have shortcomings, and none of them are perfect fits for what the Phillies need.

Then again, many of the free agents already snapped up (B.J. Upton, Josh Hamilton) were not perfect candidates, either, and they cost the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim very serious money.

There is also the possibility that the Phillies are finished making moves this offseason.

If they have a bullet or two left to fire, though, the options are getting more limited by the day.

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