What is left for the Philadelphia Phillies to do this off-season? At the outset of the off-season, the Phillies knew they needed help at third base, outfield and the bullpen. The Phillies have locked down two of those problem positions this off-season via trades. Ruben Amaro traded for a future star in center field by acquiring Ben Revere (with a major league minimum contract no less) from the Minnesota Twins, and also made moves in the bullpen, the biggest of which was signing veteran reliever Mike Adams. The biggest impact will come from trading for the aging perennial All-Star from the Texas Rangers to play third base, when they gave up relievers Josh Lindblom and minor leaguer Lisalverto Bonilla for Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young.
So what is left to do? It would be nice if the Phillies could find a reliable power bat in a corner outfield position. I’d like to see them put together a package for Justin Upton. He’s exactly what they need. He’s young, he can knock the ball out of the park, steal bases and has Gold Glove caliber upside. Sadly that’s about as far as the fit goes, because of his $14.5 million due in 2013. That salary would put the Phillies right against the luxury tax unless they ship current major league talent their way. Besides Upton, other outfielders that may become available are the Chicago Cubs Alfonso Soriano (yuck), Colorado Rockies Michael Cuddyer (thumbs up) or the Minnesota Twins Josh Willingham (double thumbs up). As those three outfielders all play for sub .500 teams, it will take a slew of prospects to get those players to Citizens Bank Park, and I’m not sure the Phillies have the pieces.
Upton is probably a pipe dream and the others won’t likely free up until the trade deadline looms. What else is out there? With spring training right around the bend I see this as a time to add depth. The Phillies have been linked to Ryan Theriot. I think Theriot is a good fit. Last year demonstrated that reliable depth cannot be undervalued. Shopping for depth becomes more important given that we know that Young and Chase Utley will not play 162 games even under optimal circumstances due to age and health concerns. It would make sense for Amaro to take a flier on an experienced infielder that can play multiple positions, like Ryan Theriot or Orlando Hudson. Hudson has been a journey man for the last few years, and could provide depth at exactly the two spots the Phillies need: second and third base.
Bullpen is another position in need of depth. Free agents worth a flier are: Scott Atchison, Francisco Cordero, Matt Lindstrom, J.P. Howell, Jon Rauch and Brandon Lyon. I’d be happy if the Phillies signed any of these low risk high reward relievers.
After depth I’d like Ruben to go after aforementioned low-risk high reward players. I’ve always been a fan of signing guys who haven’t been able to put it together recently and hope for a breakout. A top candidate should be Grady Sizemore, who could put together a 25-25 season under optimal conditions and provide veteran depth. He will not be ready until midway though the season, and as such Ruben could probably get him for about $1 million or less and then lace the contract with incentives. Another guy like that would be Brandon Webb, who has a Cy Young in his trophy case and would probably garner the same contract considerations as Sizemore. These deals often do not work, but can you imagine if a guy like Webb has a season like Jake Peavy did for the Chicago White Sox as the number four starter on a one-year contract? The implications would be scary for the rest of the National League.
Will any of these things happen? No. I doubt it. Ruben has said he plans to stand pat. On the other hand he also said the Phillies were out on Cliff Lee, so take his guarantees with a grain of salt.