The Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence Trades Give GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. Financial Freedom for 2013

The Philadelphia Phillies already have nearly $120 million committed to seven players just for 2013 – pitchers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Jonathan Papelbon, plus position players Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins.

Hunter Pence was set to hit his final year of arbitration next season, and he likely would have brought in a salary of about $14 million or so. Meanwhile, Shane Victorino was set to hit free agency in the offseason and if the team wanted to re-sign him, they probably would have had to dish out about $50-60 million for a four to five year deal, which would be anywhere from $10-13 million per season.

That would be nearly $150 million for nine players, and that means the other key positions that need to be filled – third base, fifth starting pitcher, and left field – would have suffered as a result. The Phillies will likely go with young Domonic Brown in left field to see if he can or can’t play, and I suggested in an earlier article that it might make sense for the Phillies to go after Josh Hamilton in the offseason, although that would be $20 million or so for the 2013 season.

The Phillies will almost definitely be letting veteran third baseman Placido Polanco walk in the offseason rather than renewing his overpriced $5.5 million option, and starting pitcher Joe Blanton probably won’t be back in 2013 considering he’s going to become a free agent as well. If the Phillies fill the fifth starting pitcher from within their organization with Tyler Cloyd, then the rotation will be pretty good with Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Vance Worley, and Cloyd. Howard, Utley, and Rollins are set in the infield, although if the Phillies can somehow move Rollins to third base and play Freddy Galvis at shortstop, then that would be huge for financial purposes.

An outfield of Brown in left field means the Phillies could have some money to use to sign a quality center fielder – whether they want to go with an expensive option like Hamilton, a semi-expensive option like Michael Bourn, or a relatively cheap option like a Juan Pierre type one year rental. Right field could be a platoon of a Laynce Nix/John Mayberry, Jr. combination or the Phillies could sign a player like Nick Swisher. The bullpen also needs some addressing, as the Phillies suffered a shortage of right-handed relievers all season with David Herndon, Michael Stutes, and Jose Contreras injured for the duration of the year and Kyle Kendrick in the rotation for most of it. But Amaro really gave himself some breathing room for 2013 as he doesn’t have to worry about shelling out at least $25-28 million combined for Victorino and Pence.

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