Now that the Phillies’ center field quest has been completed, the attention of the free world now turns to the next big problem facing Ruben Amaro and his band of merry men…
The addition of Ben Revere, and the potential addition of Michael Young, doesn’t solve the power problems the Phillies have in their potential lineup for next year. And while Ruf and Brown just may turn out to be power-hitting young stars, the Phils are certainly not prepared to enter next season on the hope that would happen.
I mean, like, what are we, the Kansas City Royals?
Luckily, trading for Revere and Young has saved the Phillies gobs of money. Revere made $500,000 last year and is line for a slight raise, probably in the range of about $600-650,000. The Rangers are rumored to be picking up about $10-11 million of Young’s $16 million salary. Corey Seidman of Comcast Sportsnet.com, tallied up the Phils’ projected payroll for 2013, including estimates on all the arbitration eligible players, and came up with a total commitment for 2013 of $143.8 million for 22 players. That number would jump to $149.8 million for 23 players if Young joins the team.
If the Phillies are restricted by the luxury tax this year, set at $178 million, that would leave them about $29 million to fill the rest of their needs, including corner outfielder, starting pitcher and reliever.
So, who are the targets?
THE PIPE DREAMS:
Unfortunately, the the Phillies likely don’t have what it would take to get either player. If the Phillies were able to trade their two best prospects and others in order to land Stanton or Upton, chances are they’d do it.
But boy, it sure was fun to imagine Justin Upton manning left field for about 15 minutes the other day, huh?
VIABLE OPTIONS THAT WOULDN’T MAKE ME WANT TO KILL MYSELF:
Josh Hamilton is the name most pined for by Phillies fans and, given the market, they would be smart to closely monitor his situation. The Mariners are rumored to be the leading contender, but since when are the Mariners leading contenders for anything other than most “Best Sushi Concessions in Major League Baseball?” Reports are Seattle is only offering a three-year deal, while Hamilton’s camp is still holding out hope for a six or seven-year deal.
There’s no need to rehash the positives and negatives of Hamilton once again. Everyone knows that if the Phils are forced to guarantee even five years at $20-25 million a year to Hamilton, they should stay away. But if the price has dropped to four years at $20-25 million a season, Amaro should absolutely make an offer. There has been speculation that a trade for Michael Young might even make Philly a more attractive target for Josh, but there’s no smoke to that fire just yet.
At the end of the day, the odds are long that Josh Hamilton will sign with the Phillies. But they’d be wise to be mindful of the market for him and pounce if the price is right.
No one is really sure why the Phillies haven’t been more aggressively linked to Nick Swisher, but he would be the perfect free agent candidate to join the Phils. A switch-hitter, Swisher may be the most consistent player on the market. Since 2005, he’s hit no less than 21 HRs a season, and last year compiled a .272/.364/.473 line with 24 HRs, 93 RBIs and 36 2Bs for New York. At 32 years old, he’s looking for a four or five-year deal, and would also cost the Phils a draft pick, which is maybe why they’re staying away. Swisher is also rumored to be kind of a schmuck in the locker room, and may not want to play in Philadelphia.
I keep forgetting that free agency is a two-way street.
Cody Ross is a name that has been linked to the Phils and seems the most likely addition the team will make. Ross is the same age as Swisher and is coming off a very solid season with Boston in which he hit .267/.326/.481 with 22 HRs, 81 RBIs and 34 2Bs. He hasn’t had the career consistency of Swisher, but has hit more than 20 HRs two other times in his career, back in 2008 and ’09 with the Marlins. He’s a decent fielder, but at this point, the Phillies aren’t looking for a glove. He fits the bill in that he’s right-handed and has power, something the team desperately needs if they want to achieve some balance in the lineup. And, he’ll probably come a little bit cheaper than Swisher.
Josh Willingham would have been an amazing fit in the Phillies lineup. And reports say the Phils tried to include Willingham in their deal for Ben Revere with the Twins, but weren’t able to make it work. It’s doubtful the Phils and Minnesota would hook up for another trade, especially considering the Phillies have already unloaded two of their best pitching prospects already. However, if some kind of miracle were to be arranged, the Phillies would certainly welcome Willingham’s 35HRs and .890 OPS. But don’t look for this one to happen.
If the Phillies decide they’d rather go with platoons in both outfield spots and try to make a trade at midseason, Jerry Hairston is a definite possibility in right field with Dom Brown. Hariston has always killed the Phillies, with 12 HRs in 30 career starts against them. And while he’s pretty terrible against right-handed pitchers (career .229/.288/.416 hitter), he’s much better against lefties (.276/.325/.500). Last year, in 398 plate appearances, he posted an OPS of .803 with a career high 20 HRs for the Mets.
The thought of bringing back Raul Ibanez is not all that much fun, but since non-tendering Nate Schierholtz for reasons passing understanding, the Phils could use a left-handed bat in left field if they wanted to platoon with Ruf. Could Laynce Nix fill that void in-house? Well, he’s not going anywhere, so that is another option. And bringing back Ibanez, even though he had a productive season with the Yankees last year (19 HRs, .761 OPS in 425 PAs, mostly against right-handers) doesn’t seem like a real step forward for the Phils.
I’D RATHER NOT, THANK YOU:
Ichiro Suzuki makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, unless he’s added about 45 pounds of muscle to his frame. The Phillies need power in the outfield, not another slick-fielding, top-of-the-order guy. And they especially don’t need one of those guys who’s about to turn 56 years old. Why the Phils continue to be linked to Ichiro, even after the Revere trade, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Delmon Young has been a pretty good postseason performer the last couple years, but simply doesn’t get on base nearly enough to be an upgrade over Ruf or Brown. Last year he hit .267/.296/.411 with 18 HRs in 608 plate appearances. By the way, he walked 20 times in those 608 plate appearances. That’s hard to do, guys. I’m supremely confident Darin Ruf, if given the chances to start next year, would put up better numbers than that.
Alfonso Soriano‘s name has not been mentioned much in the last few days, and everyone can be thankful for that. The Cubs are desperate to dump their left fielder, and would undoubtedly pick up some of his salary. But again, the Phillies have made two trades this offseason (assuming the Young deal goes through) and signing a free agent corner outfielder seems much more likely.
Obviously, the Phillies have a lot of options from which to choose, whether by trade or free agency.
The hope is Amaro can land Swisher or Ross, and even Hamilton at the right deal. The Phillies have money to burn and appear ready to spend it on a corner outfielder.