Philadelphia Phillies: 10 Players They'll Be Eyeing This Offseason

Matt BoczarContributor IIIAugust 16, 2011

Philadelphia Phillies: 10 Players They'll Be Eyeing This Offseason

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    The Philadelphia Phillies 2012 offseason will feature general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., signing a big name player, just as he has during the past three offseasons.

    The only difference this year is that, instead of a big name player signing on with the Phils for the first time, the player will be re-signing with the team.

    Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, and Roy Oswalt are all potential Phillies free agents.

    Rollins, Ibanez, Madson, Schneider, and Gload are set to hit the open market, while Lidge and Oswalt have options that can lead to their free agency, as well.

    In addition to these names, starting pitcher Cole Hamels is also due for a big pay-day.

    Although he can’t become a free agent until after the 2012 season, Hamels is still headed for either a long-term deal, or arbitration.

    As one of the best left handed pitchers in baseball, Hamels should be paid accordingly.

    The only problem is that a fair contract could cost upwards of $120 million.

    The Phillies currently have the second highest payroll in the league at over $172 million, with not much room left before the team crosses the luxury tax threshold.

    However, the Phillies will be able to get close to $30 million back, by letting players such as Ibanez and Lidge go, with the potential to reach nearly $45 million if Oswalt does not return.

    The Phillies can also get close to $15 million back if they are able to move the contracts of Joe Blanton, Ben Francisco, and Jose Contreras.

    By allowing some players to leave as free agents, re-signing their top talent, and moving certain contracts, the Phillies will have options when it comes to the free agent class of 2012.

    And Amaro is sure to make the most out of these options.

Javier Lopez

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    A left handed Ryan Madson?

    Close.

    In 44.1 innings this season, Lopez has a 2.44 ERA to go along with 36 strikeouts.

    His 17 holds are good enough for tenth in the National League.

    After the San Francisco Giants acquired him from the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, Lopez posted a 1.42 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just two walks.

    Opponents are batting .205 against him, with lefties only managing a .145 average.

    In 76 at-bats against left handed hitters this season, Lopez has 23 strikeouts and only nine walks, while allowing just 11 hits.

    Lopez had a 0.93 ERA in 13 appearances to start the season, and held opponents to a .079 average in the month of June.

    Besides a rough May, Lopez has not allowed more than two earned runs in a month this season.

    Similar to Madson’s performances prior to this season, Lopez has more career blown saves than he does successful conversions.

    However, during the Giants World Series run last season, Lopez racked up six holds and six strikeouts while allowing just one earned run in 5.2 innings.

    Lopez’s recent performances put him in line to make much more than the $2.3 million he’s making this season.

    But, if Madson signs elsewhere, or if the team decides that Lopez’s addition to a bullpen featuring Madson and Antonio Bastardo is too much to pass up, the Phils may be the ones to give him that pay raise.

Joel Peralta

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    Peralta is another pitcher who seems to be much more comfortable in a set-up role than he does as a closer.

    Prior to this season, Peralta had ten blown saves to go with just two successful attempts.

    However, his 15 holds this season are ninth in the American League.

    Peralta has a 3.50 ERA and 47 strikeouts to go with 17 walks in 54 innings this season.

    In the last two seasons combined, Peralta has 96 strikeouts to go with just 26 walks.

    Opponents are batting .209 against the right hander this season, with left handed hitters batting .174 to go with 23 strikeouts.

    Peralta struck out 22 batters while issuing just four walks in June and July combined.

    He’s allowed two earned runs since July 17th.

    The Phils have three young arms in Phillippe Aumont, Michael Schwimer, and Justin De Fratus, who will push for a roster spot next season, if not as September call-ups in a few weeks.

    However, after making $925,000 this season, Peralta may be too enticing to ignore.

Reed Johnson

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    After passing on him at this season’s trade deadline, the Phillies may use this offseason to acquire Johnson as their reserve outfielder.

    In 78 games, Johnson has played all three outfield positions and has made just one error all season.

    However, it’s his batting average that may grab the Phils attention.

    In 171 plate appearances, Johnson is batting .351 with five home runs and 26 RBI.

    At this rate, this season will be the third time Johnson has batted over .300.

    Although he spent time on the disabled list earlier this season, Johnson still has 14 multi-hit games to go with a .382 average and .417 OBP against lefties, and a .333 mark versus right handers.

    His .283 average in June is the only month in which he’s batted below .300.

    Johnson is also batting .361 in 36 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

    So far this month, Johnson is batting .483 with 14 hits in 29 at-bats.

    With Domonic Brown expected to take over left field for Raul Ibanez next season, the Phils may be interested in a solid reserve option to help ease the transition.

    Following John Mayberry, Jr., the Phillies next backup outfielder is Ben Francisco.

    Which means Johnson will get a long look this offseason.

Jason Giambi

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    The Phillies can, again, use this offseason to grab a player they missed at the trade deadline.

    The 40-year-old Giambi is still putting up solid power numbers at this stage of his career.

    In 49 games, Giambi has hit ten home runs while batting .265 with 24 RBI.

    After batting just .193 in 83 games with the Oakland Athletics in 2009, Giambi has proven to be a solid bat coming off the bench for the Colorado Rockies.

    Although his power numbers are not nearly as high as they were earlier in his career, Giambi’s potential off the bench and at first base may intrigue the Phils.

    Giambi has played 15 games at first base this season, which makes him a candidate to replace current Phillie free agent-to-be, Ross Gload.

    Gload is batting .253 in 75 at-bats this season, but has not hit a home run and has only driven in six runs.  He’s also struck out 17 times while walking just twice.

    Gload has just three hits since June 30th.

    Giambi, who is making $850,000 this season, may want to return to Colorado next year.

    However, his presence off the bench and at first base, while giving Ryan Howard more days off, may be something the Phils don’t want to let get away.

Scott Hairston

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    Hairston is another player who has put up solid numbers in a limited amount of appearances.

    In 70 games this season, Hairston is batting .258 with seven home runs and 23 RBI.

    Similar to Johnson, Hairston has played all three outfield positions this season and has made just one error.

    His lifetime fielding percentages at the corner outfield positions are both over .980, with only 12 errors in 725 chances.

    The right hander, who will be 32-years-old on opening day next season, also has a career .744 OPS.

    Hairston’s signing would by no means resemble the marquee acquisition the Phillies have pulled off in past offseasons.

    However, depending on the futures of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt this offseason, Hairston could be an affordable addition for the Phils bench.

Juan Cruz

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    It seems as if the Tampa Bay Rays may witness another offseason of their own free agents signing elsewhere.

    And the Phillies are sure to be monitoring the situation with Cruz.

    Cruz does have a 3.96 ERA in 38.2 innings this season.  However, he also has 39 strikeouts and has given up just two home runs.

    But, what the Phils will have their eye on is the batting average that opponents have against the 32-year-old.

    In 42 games, Cruz has held opponents to a .200 average while compiling a 4-0 record.

    Left handed batters are hitting just .183 against him, while right handed batters have seen a .213 mark.

    In nine appearances in June, Cruz allowed just one earned run while striking out 13, walking three, and keeping opponents to a .139 average.

    Prior to the all star break, Cruz gave up just one home run and held opponents to a .167 mark.

    Cruz has also held opponents to a .175 average with runners in scoring position.

    The Phillies may soon find out that they already have three young, right handed arms for their future.

    However, Cruz’s addition this offseason could allow the team to be patient while still solidifying their bullpen. 

Willie Bloomquist

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    Bloomquist currently has a $1.1 million mutual option with the Arizona Diamondbacks for next season.

    If the Diamondbacks so choose, they can buy out the remainder of his contract for $150,000.

    And make the Phillies very happy.

    Talk about versatile.

    In his career, Bloomquist has played every position besides pitcher and catcher.

    This season, with Arizona, Bloomquist is batting .278 while driving in 21 runs.  His average, along with his .330 OBP, are both better than his career numbers.

    His current average is his highest in a season since his 2008 campaign with the Seattle Mariners.

    Bloomquist has 69 hits in 70 games, including four home runs, and has also stolen 12 bases.

    Bloomquist has seen an increase in playing time following the injury to Stephen Drew, and has made the most of it.

    Since July 17th, Bloomquist has 28 hits.  He also batted over .300 in April and July.

    Bloomquist is batting .321 versus left handers this season, and has even posted solid numbers from the leadoff spot.

    Bloomquist’s value may have gone up in the eyes of the Diamondbacks after Drew’s injury.

    However, whether as an upgrade over Wilson Valdez or Michael Martinez, or a way to give the aging and, as of late, injury prone Placido Polanco more days off, the Phillies could easily find a role for Bloomquist next season.

Tim Byrdak

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    Byrdak is another lefty reliever who has had success against left handed hitters this season.

    In 70 at-bats versus lefties, Byrdak has 25 strikeouts to just five walks, and has held opponents to a .229 average and .276 OBP.

    On the season, Byrdak has a 3.41 ERA to go along with 34 strikeouts and 14 walks.

    In 29 innings, Byrdak has only given up three home runs.

    He’s also allowed just one earned run each month since May.

    In June and July, Byrdak posted a 1.17 and 1.59 ERA, respectively.  July saw just a .167 opponent’s average in 12 appearances.

    Since the all star break, Byrdak has a 1.50 ERA, and has allowed one earned run in six innings while holding opponents to a .200 average.

    At 37-years-old, and after making $900,000 this season, Byrdak is a possibility as a left handed addition to the Phils bullpen this offseason.

    If the team decides to pass on right handed relief help and go with young arms, Byrdak could turn out to be a nice finishing touch.

Jonny Gomes

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    Although his numbers are down this season, Gomes is just two seasons removed from smacking 20 homers, and one year removed from driving in 86 runs.

    Gomes has only managed a .214 average this season while splitting time between the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals, but has still hit 13 homers and driven in 35 runs.

    The career .244-hitter is batting .339 against left handers this season, but has struggled against righties.

    However, as his .320 average in the month of June shows, Gomes can still conjure up some magic with the bat.

    The 30-year-old batted .266 in 148 games with Cincinnati last season, to go with 18 home runs, 86 RBI, and 136 hits.

    Gomes has also made just two errors total over the past four seasons.

    Gomes could provide the Phils with an affordable bat off the bench, while also giving them an option in left field should Domonic Brown get off to a slow start at his new position.

Frank Francisco

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    Should the Phillies buyout Brad Lidge’s contract, but lose Ryan Madson (a Scott Boras client) to the highest bidder, they may turn their attention to Francisco.

    The 31-year-old has a 4.17 ERA this season, but has still racked up 40 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.

    Although he has ten saves this season, Francisco is another pitcher who has been much more comfortable in a different role.

    Since being relieved of closing duties, Francisco has allowed just one earned run while striking out ten and walking one.

    While left handed batters have had success off of him this season, right handed hitters are batting just .179.

    In April and June, Francisco posted a 1.69 and 1.08 ERA, respectively, while allowing just one earned run.

    Opponents are also batting just .196 against him with runners in scoring position.

    His 4.17 ERA this year is his highest in the last four seasons, including his final three years with the Texas Rangers in which he struck out 200 batters, saved 32 games, and never posted an ERA over 3.83.

    Francisco’s appeal may be down after this season.

    However, if the Phillies are put into a position where they could use someone with experience in closing games, Francisco could catch their eye.