On Monday afternoon, the entire baseball world giggled with restrained glee as another potential Phils’ CF target, this time Angel Pagan, signed with a team other than the Philadelphia Phillies.
Phillies now in more of a bind finding a center fielder. Bourn still out there but they really haven’t liked the price— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 3, 2012
Where the dominoes fall: With Pagan agreeing to terms with the Giants, the CF market shrinks by one for the Phillies.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 3, 2012
The unbridled joy is almost palpable with every character of every tweet.
Free agents seem to be avoiding the Phils like Russian traffic jams lately (check today’s news for that reference… what, it’s going to kill you to look at nbcnews.com for a few minutes?). And the rest of the world could not be happier about it.
Still, Ruben Amaro continues on, undaunted, a soldier, trudging ahead. He’s not giving up, not with a war chest at his disposal and enough grit, moxie and, dare I say it, testicular fortitude, to make some things happen.
One of those “things” that Amaro could “make happen” is a play for free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. In an interview on Daily News Live Monday night, Amaro was first asked about missing out on Angel Pagan and B.J. Upton, seemingly the team’s first choices in free agency.
“We didn’t really have a Plan A,” he said. “We had like 10 Plan Bs because, to be frank with you, I just didn’t think that the marketplace was all that strong in the beginning. There was not a comparable to (last year’s quick signing Jonathan) Papelbon out there. There really wasn’t. There were some good players out there, and there still are some good players out there, but I don’t know there’s a difference-maker. Maybe one.”
Hmm… one difference-maker, huh? Who could that be, I wonder? Perhaps one Mr. Josh Hamilton?
“Come on,” he said, almost blushing with embarrassment. “Next question.”
Hamilton was also in Nashville, TN today, and Amaro was asked if the Phils had met with him directly.
“No, but even if I did I wouldn’t tell you,” he said, the smuggery dripping from his glasses. But what about his agent?
“No, but even if I did I wouldn’t tell you,” Amaro said.
Friends, there is one thing we all must remember when dealing with Ruben Amaro Jr. and his pursuit of potential players.
The Phillies claimed up and down they weren’t getting Hunter Pence. And they lied in the weeds, waiting to pounce on Cliff Lee.
He is sneaky, and oily, which makes him the perfect Winter Meetings GM.
Notice the non-denial denials. The subtle word drops. You can bet with Angel Pagan and B.J. Upton off the board, the Phillies are seriously considering adding the slugging left-hander.
Would they meet Hamilton’s asking price? Chances are, no team is going to give him a six or seven-year deal. But what about something in the neighborhood of five years and $125 million? Certainly, it’s possible Amaro might be willing to make that kind of an offer to Hamilton.
Everyone knows the demons that come with Josh, and a 5/125 deal could absolutely blow up in their faces. But the potential upside is also tremendous. The Phillies may be in a position where, if they’re going to sign a free agent center fielder, they may have to overpay. If that’s the case, would it be better for the Phils to overpay for Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino or Josh Hamilton?
Amaro’s coy game with the media on Monday night seems to be just that. For all his pseudo-denials, it seems clear Ruben is at least keeping the door wide open for a possible run at Josh Hamilton.
Rumor is the Rangers are working hard to keep him, and numerous other teams, including the Yankees and Red Sox, are said to be in the mix as well.
If the Phillies are going to sign him, Josh Hamilton will not come cheaply.
Yet, somehow it just seems like the perfect Amaro move.
A five-year deal for Josh Hamilton is coming in 3… 2… 1…