Predicting Ruben Amaro, Jr.'s Plan of Action the Rest of the Phillies' Offseason
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Will the Philadelphia Phillies' offseason be more memorable for the players general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. missed out on rather than who was brought in?
Getting one or two outfielders was Amaro's stated priority this winter. Consequently, the Phillies were viewed as a possible destination for virtually all of the top free-agent talent at that position. Whether the expectations were realistic or not, Philadelphia was seen as a fit for B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and even Josh Hamilton.
The Phillies did get the center fielder Amaro coveted, acquiring Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins. But the team is still lacking a right-handed power bat that would bring the lineup some balance. Could Michael Young be that hitter? It seems doubtful, given that he hit eight home runs with a .682 OPS this season.
However, Young does fill the Phillies' hole at third base. He'll have to hit to make up for below-average defense, but considering the options available on the free-agent and trade markets for the position, this could be a nice pickup for Amaro.
Philadelphia also filled its need for a right-handed setup reliever nicely, signing Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million contract. Adams is coming off thoracic outlet surgery, but is expected to be ready for Opening Day. If healthy, Adams has been one of the best relievers in MLB over the past five seasons.
After including Vance Worley in the Revere trade, the Phillies were lacking a fifth starter. Signing John Lannan could take care of that. Lannan spent most of this season in Triple-A Syracuse with the Washington Nationals. But he's capable of pitching 200 innings and has experience pitching against NL East competition.
Overall, the Phillies have done a nice job of patching the holes on their roster. But without adding that flashy, difference-making sort of player through free agency or trade, has Amaro really done enough to put his team back into contention with the Nationals and Atlanta Braves in the NL East?
Unfortunately, the train full of game-changing types of hitters has already left the station. Upton went to the Braves. Swisher signed with the Cleveland Indians. If the Phillies were ever really an option for Hamilton, it's irrelevant because he's with the Los Angeles Angels now.
That doesn't mean there aren't some possibilities still available for Amaro. But he might have to take on more salary than preferred to get a power bat in the outfield.
Vernon Wells has been attached to the Phillies in trade rumors, according to CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury. Wells would certainly provide a right-handed bat for the lineup. But how productive of a hitter is he at this point? Injuries limited Wells to 262 plate appearances this season, but he hit only. 230 with a .682 OPS.
However, Wells is one year removed from hitting 20 home runs with 66 RBI. Though he compiled a .660 OPS in 2011, the Phillies would likely take those power numbers for one of their outfield openings.
The big problem with Wells, of course, is that he's owed $42 million over the remaining two years on his contract. How much of that would the Angels pick up in a deal? How much would Amaro have to give up in such a trade?
A better option might be Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs. Soriano hit 32 homers with 108 RBI this year, which would fit nicely between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the Phillies lineup. But Soriano has two years and $36 million left on his contract. Cubs president Theo Epstein might want more in a trade too, since Soriano put up such impressive numbers.
Additionally, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports that the Phillies are in the mix for Scott Hairston, who hit .286 with an .867 OPS in 199 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this year.
However, Salisbury points out that the Phillies might prefer someone who can play right field, so Darin Ruf can get a shot in left. Ruf hit 38 homers with 104 RBI for Double-A Reading this year. In 37 plate appearances with the Phillies, he compiled a 1.079 OPS, three home runs and 10 RBI.
If the Phillies are thus focused more on getting a right fielder, the best player available could be Andre Ethier from the Los Angeles Dodgers. But with a five-year, $85 million contract extension about to begin for him, the best way for Amaro to make that move would be to trade Cliff Lee to the Dodgers.
Amaro doesn't want to do that. Even though Ethier would add 20 home runs and 85 RBI to the lineup, it's difficult to see how such a trade would make the Phillies better. If Philadelphia contends in the NL East, it will be because of Lee, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels.
That could leave the Arizona Diamondbacks as Amaro's best trade partner. The D-Backs made one of the most surprising moves of this offseason, signing Cody Ross to a three-year, $26 million contract. But while the Phillies didn't get Ross, they could still benefit because of him.
Signing Ross leaves the D-Backs with a surplus of outfielders. While Justin Upton has been on the block since the July 31 trade deadline, it seems unlikely that Arizona GM Kevin Towers is going to deal him after getting shortstop Didi Gregrious in a three-team trade with the Indians and Reds.
Even if Towers was still willing to trade Upton, the Phillies don't have the resources to get him—especially after trading Worley and top pitching prospect Trevor May in the deal for Revere. But Jason Kubel could be attainable. He's certainly expendable after the D-Backs signed Ross.
Kubel is a left-handed bat, but if the Phillies were looking at Hamilton or Swisher, that clearly isn't an obstacle for them. Capable of hitting 25 homers with 95 RBI (he surpassed both of those totals this year in Arizona), Kubel would be the run producer Amaro is seeking. He can also play right field.
Two other Arizona outfielders that could interest Amaro—though they wouldn't supply Kubel's power—are Gerardo Parra and A.J. Pollock. Parra would provide improved defense and speed to the Phillies lineup. Pollock brings the same skills and also bats right-handed.
However, with either of those two players joining Revere in the Phillies outfield, the team would really need Ruf to emerge as a legitimate major league power hitter.
Those looking for the Phillies to sign a big name this winter are probably disappointed by how the offseason has developed thus far. But being patient has worked out relatively well for Amaro, and not being impulsive could still pay off nicely. Plenty of possibilities are still available.
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