Philadelphia Phillies: Missing Free-Agent Pieces Phils Could Still Land

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIJanuary 1, 2013

You want a right-handed bat in the outfield? Have I got one for you....
You want a right-handed bat in the outfield? Have I got one for you....Leon Halip/Getty Images

At the MLB Free Agent Bar and Night Club, it is 1:50 a.m. The bartender rang the bell for last call 20 minutes ago, and the "ugly lights" just came up. For Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Philadelphia Phillies, there is still time to leave with someone...but the clock is ticking.

Most of the really prime targets have gone home with someone else.

Josh Hamilton took generational money to hit behind (or ahead of) Albert Pujols in Los Angeles. B.J. Upton got five years and $75 million from the Atlanta Braves to try to beat the Phillies 19 times a year. Nick Swisher is apparently content to play the rest of his career out of contention in Cleveland.

Zack Greinke got a contract from the loose-walleted Los Angeles Dodgers that beat even Cole Hamels' epic free-agent deal. Anibal Sanchez somehow pried $80 million from the Detroit Tigers even though his career record is 48-51.

The big names, per this very handy free-agent tracker, have for the most part settled on partners.

So who's left?

Michael Bourn is the biggest name unsigned, but he does not figure to fit in the Phillies' plans after they traded for Ben Revere. Bourn and Revere in the same lineup would never work, as neither one hits for power.

The name the Phillies need to look at again is Delmon Young.

Young 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.

For weeks, Phillies fans were hearing that the Phillies were interested in signing right-handed outfielder Cody Ross, who instead went to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Here is the thing, though—Young might actually be a better player. Ross' 2012 slash line of .267/22/81 is not much different from Young's 2012 slash line of .267/18/74. And Ross is four years older.

The knock on Young is that he supposedly cannot play left field (or perhaps any position) adequately, and thus he is best suited for the American League.

But the 2008 Phillies won the World Series with a decomposing Pat Burrell chipping home runs into the short porch in left field. The 1993 Phillies won a pennant with Pete Incaviglia staggering around the AstroTurf at Veterans' Stadium. Neither of them could catch a cold. It didn't matter, because they hit.

Young could do something very similar for the Phillies in 2013.

The Phillies could also use one more starting pitcher. Everyone loves Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, but that leaves nearly 70 starts for the likes of Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan to cover.

Wouldn't Shaun Marcum or Joe Saunders fit neatly in that No. 4 slot in the rotation?

And since Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde, Matt Capps and Kyle Farnsworth are all still unsigned, it appears that the market for their specific services (late-inning pitchers with experience closing games) is glutted. The Phillies could definitely afford one of them on a one-year or even a two-year deal.

If the Phillies are really serious about winning in 2013, another wave of free-agent signings even this late in the process is in order.

Leaving the scene alone as the barkeep locks the door should not be an option.


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