This week has been much busier for the Phillies despite not making any moves. They missed out on Bossman Junior Upton to the rival Braves, sparking the debate about where they will go now to fill the void in center. The availability of Josh Hamilton and former Phillie Michael Bourn are the biggest names left, which have started a flurry of debates among fans.
Center field hasn’t been the only position heating up for the Phillies, as they nearly acquired late inning reliever Wilton Lopez form the Astros. The latest news has the deal hung up on Lopez’s physical, and may fall through entirely. If he doesn’t become a Phillie the team will have to get creative to add some quality depth to the back of the bullpen. The frenzy of the off-season is coming to a boil for the Phils on the heels of the annual winter meetings. But, for all the rumors and failed negotiations nothing seems to be brewing at third base.
Every team in baseball has a position that becomes a patch work effort to fill every year, and for the Phillies that position has been third base. They haven’t had an all-star caliber player at the hot corner since Scott Rolen, barely getting by with the likes of David Bell and Abraham Nunez for years. Despite the obvious need, there seems to be little to no chatter about potential moves to upgrade the position.
The dearth of free agent third basemen is magnified by the deep crop of talent available in the outfield. Kevin Youkilis is probably the most accomplished player available, but he is 33 and has been a shell of his former self the past few seasons due to injuries. The last thing the Phillies need is another broken down infielder who isn’t likely to play more than 120 games.
The trade market is a little more interesting. Chase Headley and David Wright are the biggest names potentially available. Phillies fans can forget about Wright in pin stripes, particularly now that he and the Mets have engaged in serious long term contract talks. Headley on the other hand doesn’t play for a division rival, but won’t come cheap. For a more in depth analysis of Headley’s benefits to the Phightins check out my colleague John Stolnis’s breakdown. Long story short, it’s a long shot that won’t come cheap.
So where do the Phillies turn to solve their third base woes? My proposed solution may not be a popular one, but it solves the problem for now and the future. Ruben Amaro Jr. should call up Dayton Moor, if he hasn’t already, and ask what it will take to pry away Mike Moustakas. The Royals young third baseman is a former 1st round pick who hasn’t quite lived up to his potential yet in the bigs.
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Moore may be hesitant to give up on the youngster so soon, but the Royals are desperate with a capital D for pitching. The Phillies could start the conversation with Vance Worley and go from there. The Vanimal has become quite the fan favorite, but he’s nothing more than a right handed J.A. Happ. Moustakas has the upside, the glove, and he comes cheap. For a team with four players making 20 million or more in 2013, a young position player under team control for a few years is a necessity. With B.J. Upton gone, and Denard Span now heading to the Nationals Ruben is running out of players he can make a splash with. Swinging a deal for Mike Moustakis may not make the same waves that Josh Hamilton would, but he makes sense for the team for 2013 and beyond.