5 Free Agents the Philadelphia Phillies Might Steal at the Last Minute

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2012

5 Free Agents the Philadelphia Phillies Might Steal at the Last Minute

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    The Philadelphia Phillies have a solid track record of coming out of nowhere to make a big splash in the offseason.

    From their acquisitions of Roy Halladay via trade and Cliff Lee via free agency, to their at least somewhat unexpected signing of Jonathan Papelbon to a big contract to close last offseason, their major offseason moves always seem to be swift and without warning.

    With needs in the outfield, bullpen and perhaps rotation, there are a number of guys the team could emerge and sign this offseason. Here is a look at five guys who the team could steal at the last minute.

3B, Kevin Youkilis

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    The Phillies declined their $5.5 million option on veteran third baseman Placido Polanco this offseason, opting to buy out the 37-year-old after he hit just .257 BA, 2 HR, 19 RBI last season in 90 games.

    For now, 30-year-old Kevin Frandsen is slated to be the team's starting third baseman, and while he hit .338 BA, 2 HR, 14 RBI in 194 at-bats last season, he's been nothing more than a utility player throughout his career.

    Youkilis represents the top option on the market at third base, and while no one has stepped forward as a front-runner to land him at this point, the Phillies could certainly step in and sign him as they look to upgrade their lineup and the hot corner.

RP, Joakim Soria

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    The Phillies spent big last offseason to add All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon on a four-year, $50 million contract. 

    While he enjoyed a solid season, the team lacked a reliable setup option as Antonio Bastardo (65 G, 4.33 ERA) struggled and Josh Lindblom (26 G, 4.63 ERA) was not the answer either after coming over from the Dodgers.

    One of the more intriguing names on the market is former Royals closer Joakim Soria, who missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery but was one of the league's best before being injured. He could be the Phillies' answer in the setup role, and has the potential to be one of the biggest bargains of the offseason.

CF, Michael Bourn

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    With the departure of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the deadline last season, the Phillies outfield is a shell of what it once was with Domonic Brown, John Mayberry and Nate Schierholtz set to be the starters.

    The Phillies have made B.J. Upton their top offseason target (h/t MLB.com), but if they miss out on him, the team could turn its attention to a former Philly in Michael Bourn.

    Originally drafted by the Phillies in 2003, Bourn spent his first two big league seasons with the team before being dealt to the Astros for Brad Lidge. He'd not only fill the outfield void, but would allow the team to move Jimmy Rollins down to a run production spot in the order.

SP, Brandon McCarthy

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    Even with the departure of Joe Blanton, the Phillies still have a capable five-man staff of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick.

    That said, the team could very well look to sign a starter to provide some depth as Kendrick has been inconsistent at times and Worley is still far from a proven commodity.

    The Phillies won't spend huge on a starter, but someone like McCarthy who is capable of being a front-line guy but comes with some risk is exactly the type of pitcher the team could come out of nowhere to target.

LF, Josh Hamilton

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    The Phillies have a decision to make, not just about whether or not to pursue the top bat on the market in Hamilton, but where the franchise is heading in general.

    The core of players has gotten old, and after a down season last year it could be headed for a rebuild within the next couple seasons. At the same time, it has enough talent that signing someone like Hamilton could be enough to buy it a few more years as legitimate title contenders.

    To this point, no one has come forward as the favorite to land Hamilton, and the Phillies could certainly be the ones to come out of nowhere and sign him to the big contract he's looking for.