One common question in yesterday's chat was which bats the Phillies could acquire this summer. The Phillies rank fifth in the NL with 4.88 runs per game so far, and trading season is two months away, so it's not time to sound the alarm yet. But here are a few potential targets anyway.
There's still no timetable for Chase Utley to return, so the Phillies could consider adding an offensive-minded second baseman. Availability of these players will depend on the standings. If the Phillies seek all-around offense they could try for Arizona's Kelly Johnson or San Francisco's Mark DeRosa. Aaron Hill and Jose Lopez can provide power, while Marco Scutaro, Jeff Keppinger, and Omar Infante are more OBP-focused.
Rather than bring in a $5.85MM second baseman like Johnson, the Phillies seem more likely to add a corner outfielder. Domonic Brown could help out in right field. He could start a rehab assignment soon after breaking his hand in March. The Phillies should have a good idea of whether Brown can be an offensive asset by mid-July.
It's tough to assess the available outfielders in April, before teams reveal their true selves. Carlos Beltran, Jason Kubel, Luke Scott, Juan Pierre, Carlos Quentin, Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Garrett Jones, Ryan Ludwick, Brad Hawpe, Josh Willingham, David DeJesus, Juan Rivera, Jack Cust, Jeff Francoeur, Xavier Nady, Angel Pagan, Kosuke Fukudome, and Marlon Byrd are players I can picture being dealt under certain circumstances. Some are more likely than others – I'm not banking on Kemp being dealt. If the Phillies aim for switch-hitters or right-handed bats, this list is cut to Beltran, Quentin, Pence, Lee, Kemp, Ludwick, Willingham, Rivera, Francoeur, Nady, Pagan, and Byrd.
There are also financial concerns. Incumbent left fielder Raul Ibanez earns $11.5MM this year, and his is not a contract anyone is taking off the Phillies' hands. Some of the above-named players aren't even clear upgrades over Ibanez. We're unsure how much payroll flexibility the Phillies have, and most of the players I named are earning more than $5MM this year. They could unload a different contract, with Joe Blanton the most popular choice. But Blanton is only tradeable if he's pitching reasonably well, and in that case moving him downgrades the Phillies' rotation and might set them back as much as an outfield acquisition would set them forward.
It wouldn't be hard for the Phillies to add a complementary piece like Keppinger or Francoeur. Otherwise, the best chance at an improved offense will probably come from a healthy Utley and production from Brown, Ibanez, or Jimmy Rollins.