2012 MLB Free Agency: 25 Players Philadelphia Phillies Absolutely WON'T Chase
To quote one of the greatest Presidents in the history of the United States of America, "The buck stops here." Harry S. Truman knew a thing or two about connecting with the American people, telling the situation like it was and putting an end to the outlandish rumors widely circulated during the time period.
While baseball certainly can't measure up to the scale of importance of the issues that Roosevelt faced, fans spend most of the offseason facing the same sort of speculation. With obvious holes to fix and money to spend, the Philadelphia Phillies have become one of those teams vulnerable to absurd speculation.
The Phillies are looking for an offensive upgrade at third base. That doesn't mean that they'll be bringing Albert Pujols to town because he's spent some time at the hot corner in the past. That rumored contract eclipsing $200 million would have the Phillies shaking in their boots.
This slideshow will look to dispel some of those crazy rumors, listing the top 25 free agents that the Phillies will have minimal interest in bringing to Philadelphia.
25. Ryan Madson
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The Philadelphia Phillies had nearly signed Ryan Madson earlier this winter, according to numerous reports that created a bit of stir in the aftermath, but for a few million dollars more, opted against that deal, bringing Jonathan Papelbon to Philadelphia.
That deal effectively shut the door on a return for Madson. Now the best closer on the market, there are several teams with an obvious need for a ninth inning reliever, and Madson has been one of the best in baseball over the last few seasons, though, 2011 was his first full season in the closer's role.
The only way that Madson would be able to return to Philadelphia is if he were willing to take an amount of money significantly less than what he is going to get on the open market to return as the club's set-up man—a deal that simply isn't in the cards.
24. Rafael Furcal
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When Rafael Furcal is on the field, he is an excellent shortstop. After the St. Louis Cardinals acquired him at the trade deadline last season, he helped fuel their run to the World Series, and realistically, may have pushed them over the top. The problem is that over the last two seasons, he hasn't been able to stay on the field.
Health has been a major concern for Furcal, who has not played in more than 100 games since 2009. Though he has proven to be a great two-way player on the field, he represents a significant risk in health, especially on a multi-year deal.
With Clint Barmes recently receiving a two year, $10.5 million deal from the Pittsburgh Pirates to be their starting shortstop, Furcal should be in line for at least double that, a deal that the Philadelphia Phillies probably do not want to make. For the Phils, it seems to be Jimmy Rollins or Freddy Galvis at shortstop.
23. Tsuyoshi Wada
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Tsuyoshi Wada is expected to make the jump to the MLB this season from Japan, and he has an excellent repertoire of pitches. Though he doesn't throw hard, he has great control of a fastball that sits consistently in the upper 80s, complemented by a filthy circle change-up.
The greatest concern about Wada is that, like most Japanese pitchers that come to the United States, he will be unable to handle the workload that comes with being a starting pitcher in the MLB. The Philadelphia Phillies have a big enough problem in the questionable health of Joe Blanton. They won't be throwing money at Japanese starting pitchers this winter.
22. Heath Bell
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Unless he wants to be a set-up man in 2012—and no one believes that to be the case—Heath Bell will not be a member of the Philadelphia Phillies next season.
After the San Diego Padres refused to (or couldn't) trade him last summer, they found themselves in quite the pickle with their former closer, who threatened to accept arbitration and come back at a high salary should it be offered. Though the new Collective Bargaining Agreement may have changed all of that, Bell hit the market as a free agent regardless.
With Jonathan Papelbon off the board, Bell is one of the few top closers left on the market. Though he's pitched his interest to a number of competitors, including the Phillies and Boston Red Sox, his options are quickly dwindling.
Some team will pay him to be their closer, unless he wants to accept a much smaller deal to come to Philadelphia to be a set-up man, which simply isn't the case.
21. Carlos Pena
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With Ryan Howard recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, Carlos Pena would make a great stop-gap option at first base, moving to the bench when Howard returns to the field, right?
Pena signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs last winter to try and recoup some of his value on the free agent market. While his average continued to hover around the Mendoza Line, he hit another 28 home runs and drove in 80 runs.
While his splits make him look like an obvious platoon option at first base, (.594 OPS versus left-handed pitching was worse than Howard's OPS of .634 versus lefties) there will be some clubs, such as the Pittsburgh Pirates and perhaps the Milwaukee Brewers that offer him a job as their starting first baseman.
With John Mayberry Jr. and Jim Thome in the fold, the Philadelphia Phillies won't be spending on first base, even if Howard misses time.
20. Carlos Beltran
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The Philadelphia Phillies were interested in bringing Carlos Beltran into the fold before they acquired Hunter Pence at last season's trade deadline, but those circumstances were very different. Now with Pence anchoring right field, the Phillies have been exploring possible options for left field, but Beltran simply isn't a fit.
One of the top corner outfield bats on the market, Beltran has been rumored to be seeking a three-year deal, and with John Mayberry Jr. likely to get most of the at-bats in left field once Ryan Howard returns to first base and Domonic Brown lurking in AAA, the Phillies won't be looking for a permanent outfielder, especially considering the fact that Beltran offers the club little versatility.
19. Edwin Jackson
With a three-headed monster still at the top of the Philadelphia Phillies' rotation and quality arms like Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton filling out the final two spots, the Phils won't be spending precious resources on expensive starters this winter, especially on a guy like Edwin Jackson.
In a thin starting pitching market, Jackson represents one of the most talented guys available. He just hasn't been able to put all of that talent together and translate it into success. He has been to two different World Series and is the new owner of a big, shiny ring and has thrown a no-hitter. That no-hitter, however, also showed one of his greatest weaknesses—control.
As teams bid against one another on just a few starting pitchers with the ability to make a difference this winter, someone is going to overpay for Jacskon, but it won't be the Phillies.
18. Jose Reyes
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Jose Reyes is a fit for the Philadelphia Phillies in no way other than their obvious need for a warm body to play shortstop.
Firstly, you have to take a look at the money that Reyes will be commanding. As one of the top offensive players on the market, he has the ability to change the pace of the game, a fact that has not gone over the head of the Miami Marlins. They've reportedly offered him a contract worth $90 million over six years. Several baseball experts have noted that this will be the floor of negotiations, with his yearly salary likely to sit around $20 million.
The Phillies won't go there.
Next, you have to take a look at his injury history. When he is on the field he is electric, there is no doubt about that. However, when a player whose game is predicated on speed has numerous leg injuries, that is certainly a cause for concern, especially for a team like the Phillies who would need him to stay on the field.
Finally, you have to take a look at his impact in the clubhouse. The Phillies have plenty of veteran, hard-working guys, so he probably wouldn't cause too much of a stir, but on the same token, how do you think Charlie Manuel would have taken to Reyes asking out of the final game of the season to save a batting title?
Probably not well.
17. Bruce Chen
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Remember when Bruce Chen was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies? I posted a picture from way back in 2000 to jog your memory—a memory that you probably purposefully tried to forget, because Chen-the-Phillie was absolutely dreadful. The Phillies traded him to the New York Mets in 2001 and never looked back.
Now a veteran starting pitcher, Chen must have figured out something since that time, right? That would make him a nice option to bring in and compete for that fifth starter's role, in the event that Joe Blanton is not healthy or experiences an injury.
Wrong. Because the market for starting pitching is so thin, numerous teams have already expressed interest in Chen, who statistically is not much better than he was during his stint with the Phillies, on a multi-year deal. No thanks.
16. Kerry Wood
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Kerry Wood is one of the few players on this list that the Philadelphia Phillies would probably like to pursue, but won't be given the opportunity to. Wood signed with the Chicago Cubs last winter, taking significantly less money than he would have received from other teams to pitch for the Cubs on a one-year deal.
Despite the fact that Wood is a free agent, he isn't exactly available. He is said to be interested in pitching only for the Cubs, and that the two sides may actually agree to a multi-year deal. Should that not transpire, he would be a solid, low-cost fit for the Phillies at the back-end of the bullpen.
15. Joe Nathan
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Once upon a time, the Philadelphia Phillies had a void at the back end of their bullpen and were in dire need of a closer. People speculated that Joe Nathan could be a solid, low-cost option to fill that need until some of the Phillies' young relievers matured into that role, but no dice. The Phils paid top dollar for Jonathan Papelbon.
With Nathan looking for a closer's gig, it is certainly challenging to picture him interested in a place like Philadelphia, where he would, at most, share the set-up role with the left handed Antonio Bastardo. With less expensive options, the Phillies are likely to pass on an older pitcher coming off an injury.
14. Frank Francisco
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After all of their biggest holes have been filled this winter, the Philadelphia Phillies could conceivably look to bring in a veteran bullpen arm this winter to complement some of their young, talented relievers—a void created by the departures of Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson. Though Frank Francisco had a solid season with the Toronto Blue Jays last season, he won't be an option.
Citizens Bank Park may not be the tiny bandbox that some people make it out to be, but the Phillies have been cautious about bringing in relievers prone to the home run ball nonetheless. Despite posting a strong strikeout rate in 2011, Francisco allowed 1.24 home runs per nine innings, a number that would put his success in Philadelphia in serious jeopardy.
They'll look for veteran relievers, but they'll look elsewhere.
13. Aaron Harang
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Speaking of pitchers prone to the fly ball, at first glance, Aaron Harang appears to be a solid back-of-the-rotation option for contending teams looking to stockpile depth. He racked up 14 wins for the San Diego Padres last season, posting an ERA of 3.64 in the process, but not so fast.
Harang has been a severe fly-ball pitcher over the course of his career. He is the owner of a fly-ball rate of 40.8 percent and with the Cincinnati Reds in 2010, he posted a HR/9 rate of 1.29. Moving into the spacious confines of PETCO Park for the 2011 season, that rate dropped to 1.05 in 2011.
Any team not playing their home games in a huge ballpark would be upset with the results they'd receive from Harang, and if the Phillies are going to add depth, there will be better, cheaper options.
12. Freddy Garcia
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Does this slide even need an explanation?
The Philadelphia Phillies acquired the former All-Star starting pitcher from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd, but Freddy Garcia never panned out. He made 11 starts as a member of the Phillies' rotation and won a grand total of one game, spending most of his tenure on the disabled list.
Needless to say, despite their lack of starting pitching depth beyond obvious options at the Major League level, Garcia won't be signing with the Phillies' organization to play for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He could get a big league deal, and the Phillies will stay as far away as possible.
11. Ramon Hernandez
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Now that the Philadelphia Phillies have officially brought Brian Schneider back aboard to once again be the team's back-up backstop, we probably could have done without this slide. However, there was a contingent of supporters for the Phillies to explore the idea of bringing Ramon Hernandez aboard as the back-up catcher, an idea that I'd like to discuss. My first question is: Why?
Sure, Hernandez's offensive output looks nice. He hit 12 home runs and posted an OPS of .788. The fact of the matter remains that teams will be interested in Hernandez as a starting catcher. In a weak market for catching, one can only guess how much money he is in line to receive when the Pittsburgh Pirates were willing to offer Rod Barajas $4 million as a starting catcher.
Simply put, the Phillies didn't want to go this route, and why should they? Hernandez has dealt with injuries over each of the last three seasons, is an average backstop defensively, and still wants a gig as a starting catcher.
With Carlos Ruiz working as the starting catcher, the back-up catcher is not going to see a lot of action if everything goes according to plan, and Hernandez is going to cost whatever team he signs with a pretty penny. This was never a fit.
10. Bartolo Colon
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Like a couple of other guys on this list, Bartolo Colon could be a nice option at the back end of the rotation for contending teams looking for an inexpensive starting pitcher, much like he was with the New York Yankees last season. With Roy Oswalt a free agent and Joe Blanton's long-term health in question, the Philadelphia Phillies may be looking to build some depth this winter.
Colon, however, will not be on their shopping list. He had a solid season with the Yanks in 2011, but prior to last season, missed all of 2010 with injury. Before the 2010 season, he struggled mightily, and resurfacing injuries in 2011 may scare some teams off.
Simply put, the Phillies don't have much money to waste on starting pitching depth, especially on a guy like Colon who has been known to give up the long ball. They'll look into inexpensive options that can keep the ball on the ground.
9. Erik Bedard
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A lot of teams in the MLB will do just about anything to acquire a talented left-handed pitcher, so I can understand why teams continue to value Erik Bedard after seeing how dreadful he was with the Seattle Mariners, health-wise. Like I've already stated in a few other slides, it would behoove the Philadelphia Phillies to add some depth to their starting pitching, but they won't be in on Bedard.
Despite the fact that he has made more than 30 starts in a season just once in his career, and over the last four seasons, has made just 54 starts, including a grand total of zero in 2010. The fact of the matter is that the injury bug has followed Bedard wherever he has gone.
That didn't stop the Boston Red Sox from acquiring him last season, however, and he managed to recoup some of his value by giving a strong showing in Beantown. A lot of teams would like to have him as depth at the back end of the rotation, but at least one will overpay for his talent—and the fact that he's left-handed.
8. Javier Vasquez
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A lot of people believe that Javier Vasquez is going to hang it up this offseason, and if he does, he'll have had a nice career. However, if he decides to return to the MLB this winter, last season proved that he can still be an effective pitcher, even if he will only play for an East Coast team, or more specifically, the Miami Marlins.
He rebounded from a disastrous season with the New York Yankees in 2010 to post a 3.57 FIP and won 13 games for the Marlins in 2011, including one of baseball's best halves after the All-Star break. He can still be an effective pitcher for a contending team, especially in the National League, but he won't be joining the Philadelphia Phillies any time soon.
7. Francisco Rodriguez
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Once upon a time, Francisco Rodriguez was one of the best closers in all of baseball, as he set the Major League record for saves in a single season as a member of the Los Angeles Angels. The New York Mets spent a lot of money to lure him to the Big Apple the following season, and a few seasons later, traded the short-tempered closer to the Milwaukee Brewers after becoming fed up with his antics.
The Philadelphia Phillies will have no part of Rodriguez this offseason, or any offseason that follows. The front office has shown that they value the chemistry of the clubhouse, and despite a need for a veteran reliever out in that young bullpen, would not make an offer to Rodriguez if he was the last working arm available on the market.
6. Hiroki Kuroda
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Hiroki Kuroda is different from other starting pitchers on this list in the fact that the Philadelphia Phillies would probably actually have some interest in him should some of their offensive targets go awry. He has collected 41 wins in four seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, posting an ERA of 3.45. He has also posted a strong ground ball rate throughout the course of his MLB career—48.6 percent. That would play well in Citizens Bank Park.
The problem is that Kuroda has no interest in playing on the East Coast. In fact, many baseball writers believe that the possible destinations for Kuroda are just three—the Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels or Japan.
Without a pressing need for starting pitching, the Phillies won't be throwing money at Kuroda to change his mind.
5. Mark Buehrle
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With very few legitimate starting pitching options available through free agency this winter, some team is going to overpay for the services of Mark Buehrle. That isn't to say that Buehrle won't be a valuable asset to whichever team signs him, however. He collected 13 wins and posted a FIP 3.98 for the Chicago White Sox last season.
The Philadelphia Phillies won't be interested in the lefty for a number of reasons, but a few stand out more than others. First and foremost, they just don't have a need for starting pitching. If some of their offensive options—particularly Jimmy Rollins and whatever outfield bat they eventually target—sign elsewhere, they could once again stockpile pitching. That just isn't likely.
Secondly, you have to consider Buehrle's preferences. There was a rumor earlier in the offseason that he would only sign with the White Sox or St. Louis Cardinals. Though neither of those clubs seem likely at this point, there will be plenty of interest in Buehrle, who should sign a comfortable three-year deal.
4. Yu Darvish
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I'd imagine just about every team in baseball would like to have Yu Darvish on their club next season, despite the fact that he has not even been posted yet. For the Philadelphia Phillies, the reason they won't pursue him is simple—the money.
Darvish is easily one of the top starting pitching options potentially available this winter, but whichever team acquired him (or potentially acquires him) this winter is going to spend a ton of money on him. First and foremost, teams will have to bid on his negotiating rights through the posting system, and that could be very costly.
Following the posting process, whichever team is awarded his negotiating rights will have to work out a contract with Darvish. That contract is not going to be chump change. Pound for pound, he is one of, if not the, best starting pitcher on the market.
The Phillies just don't have the funds for that process, nor do they need Darvish.
3. David Ortiz
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The Philadelphia Phillies need to add some offensive firepower this winter, and David Ortiz has plenty of that. With that being said, however, I don't think we need an explanation of why the Phillies won't be bidding on him as a free agent this winter.
A member of the Boston Red Sox since 2003, Ortiz has been the primary designated hitter for a reason. He hit 29 home runs last season for the Sox, posting an OPS of .953. Those are some nice offensive numbers, but there is a small problem—he played in the field just twice in 2011. He has played just 39 games at first base since 2005.
The Phillies have enough defensively inept first basemen in Ryan Howard and Jim Thome.
2. Albert Pujols
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Can he still play left field?
Albert Pujols would surely make quite an impact on the Philadelphia Phillies' offense, but don't get your hopes up (or wake up from your dream) Philly—it's just not happening. It is hard to envision Pujols wearing a different uniform in 2012, and we know that the St. Louis Cardinals have made him an offer worth at least $200 million. The Phillies won't be spending that kind of money, even if there was a remote possibility that Pujols could still play left field.
Should have swapped him and Ryan Howard when they had the chance...
1. Prince Fielder
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Can he play left field?
The chances of the Philadelphia Phillies even offering a contract to Prince Fielder are so remote that I'm not even sure how to describe them. Sure, you can draft your Ryan Howard trade proposals from your recliner, freeing up the necessary funds and position to sign Fielder to a contract, but in the long run, and I think we're all aware of this already—it's just not happening.
From a realistic standpoint, Fielder is not going to come much cheaper than Pujols, has the ability to play first base (meaning he is not going to be a designated hitter in the next few seasons) and plenty of clubs will make him a competitive offer.
From any other standpoint—it's just not happening.