Offseason Outlook: Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies must acquire at least one outfielder and pursue upgrades at third base.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration Eligible Players (estimated salaries)

Contract Options

Free Agents

The Phillies are in unfamiliar territory this offseason. Their streak of consecutive division titles has ended at five, and the Nationals and Braves are now the teams to beat in the NL East. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will pursue outfielders and third basemen this offseason, as the Phillies attempt to re-establish themselves as one of the premier teams in the National League.

Cliff Lee - Phillies (PW)

Just a few months after trading Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence the Phillies need outfielders. Fortunately for Amaro, the free agent market features a strong class of outfielders this offseason. The Phillies should have the resources to bid for top free agents after spending approximately $170MM on payroll in both of the past two seasons.

No free agent matches Josh Hamilton in terms of potential impact. The Phillies could be a fit the free agent outfielder, and we know Amaro likes to make splashes — sometimes unexpected ones. That doesn't always mean bidding on the top free agent available, however. Former Phillies outfielder Michael Bourn could be a target, and so could free agents such as Angel Pagan and B.J. Upton.

Alternatively, the Phillies could rely on John Mayberry in center field and pursue a corner outfielder such as Melky Cabrera or Nick Swisher. They have internal outfield options in Mayberry, Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf, but that's probably not enough certainty for a team that sees itself as a contender.

If the Phillies look to the trade market for outfield depth, they could pursue players such as Shin-Soo Choo, Denard Span, Josh WillinghamCoco Crisp, Justin Upton, Peter Bourjos and Jacoby Ellsbury. They have lots of options given the outfield depth in the upcoming free agent class and their ability to take on payroll.

Upgrading at third base won't be as easy. The Phillies declined their $5.5MM club option for Placido Polanco and will instead outside of the organization for help at the hot corner (no, Chase Utley won't shift over to third). There's not much available in free agency, with Kevin Youkilis leading an unremarkable free agent class. 

Some intriguing trade options could emerge at third base. Chase Headley and David Wright are now viewed as extension candidates following tremendous seasons. If contract talks don't go as planned and one of these players becomes available, the Phillies should attempt to strike a deal. Acquiring Wright would presumably be extremely difficult since he plays in the Phillies' division. The Phillies do have some internal options at third in Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen.

Cliff Lee drew trade interest this past summer despite a contract that calls for annual salaries of $25MM through 2015. If the Phillies determine that they're getting to close to the MLB luxury tax, they could trade Lee and clear payroll. The Dodgers and Rangers are two of the many teams that would presumably have some interest in the left-hander. Still, the Phillies would have to get an impact player to justify trading Lee, who who has pitched at least 210 innings in every one of the past five seasons without posting an ERA over 3.25.

The Phillies exercised Carlos Ruiz's option immediately after the season, while declining the options for Polanco, Ty Wigginton and Jose Contreras. Free agents Brian Schneider and Juan Pierre are also expected to depart (obviously without the qualifying offers that would set the Phillies up for draft pick compensation).

The Phillies have a small arbitration class featuring just three players. It won't be surprising if all three — Frandsen, Nate Schierholtz and Antonio Bastardo — are tendered contracts, though none are considered extension candidates. There's a chance Schierholtz will be non-tendered. The Phillies could consider an extension for Ruiz, who will be eligible for free agency a year from now. Even though he's 33, adding one or two years to his existing contract could make sense given his offensive skills.

Amaro has said he regrets not doing more to bolster the bullpen last offseason. While Philadelphia's relievers pitched better in the second half, they're expected to pursue a setup reliever this winter. Perhaps a free agent such as Jason Grilli, Mike Adams or Koji Uehara will join the Phillies in the next couple of months.

If the Phillies obtain outfield help and address third base while adding to the bullpen, they'll have had a successful offseason. Still, the Phillies will enter the 2013 season with questions about the health of prominent players such as Utley and Halladay. This team’s hopes of contending in 2013 seem legitimate, but the Phillies are no longer the force they once were.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


33 Responses to Offseason Outlook: Philadelphia Phillies Leave a Reply

  1. NYBravosFan10 3 years ago

    These guys will be right back in it next year I think

  2. Lunchbox23 3 years ago

    They should trade the doc.

    • ColonelTom 3 years ago

      After his health issues and subpar performance last year, Doc’s not going to bring much back unless the Phils eat a good chunk of his salary.

      • Lunchbox23 3 years ago

        one bad year doesn’t diminish his value that much.

        especially since this is his walk year.

        • ColonelTom 3 years ago

          It all depends on his medical reports. If he’s healthy, they’d be fools to trade him. If not, no one will take on that $20M *and* give up top prospects or good major-leaguers in return.

  3. Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

    I’ve said this before, but I’m actually really intrigued by what BJ Upton could do playing in Citizens Bank Park 81 times a year. I think he’s the guy they’re targeting based on what Ruben’s said about wanting to get more right handed.

    Really though, the only way for this team to improve is to get a full year of Chase Utley and for Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay to play like they’re capable of.

    • ColonelTom 3 years ago

      If they’re looking hard at B.J. Upton, they missed the boat already. Trading for Chris Young would have been a better option – much less risk at one year ($8.5M) plus a 2014 option ($11M, $1.5M buyout) than a long-term deal for Upton, which could easily run toward $80-90M over 5-6 years. Oakland got him for one good prospect (Yordy Cabrera) and an all-glove shortstop (Cliff Pennington).

      • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

        I’m not a big Chris Young fan. Frankly, I think he’s a product of Chase Field and John Mayberry Jr’s a better option.

        Oakland has the ability to take chances on guys given their market. The Phillies can’t take chances.

        I don’t see BJ Upton getting anywhere near that. Somewhere between 3 years $27 million (on the low end) and $60 million over however many years on the high end.

        • ColonelTom 3 years ago

          Mayberry’s instincts in CF are awful. He gets turned around constantly on anything hit over his head. Young’s a very good defender, and most importantly, he’s cost-controlled for the next two years and doesn’t require a long-term commitment. If all goes well, Tyson Gillies will be ready to take over in CF by 2014 or 2015.

          I’d be stunned if Upton gets less than $60M. Remember, he’s only 28 years old, and he’s put up OPS+ of 106, 114, and 109 the last 3 years. He’s also an elite basestealer and a very good defensive CF. He’s likely to be a target of some big-spending teams (Yankees, Nationals, Marlins, to name three).

        • ColonelTom 3 years ago

          I will agree, though, that they should sign B.J. Upton, like, yesterday if they can get him for 3/$27M or even 5/$60M.

        • Jeff Miller 3 years ago

          I think it was ESPN who reported a couple months ago that GM’s and front office people believe BJ Upton is likely to get somewhere in the $14M/year range over 5-6 years. At this moment I don’t think he’s worth close to that, I agree more on the $9M/year you suggested. But he’s still young and has so much ability that if he ever comes to close to reaching it $14M/year could honestly be a steal.

          • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

            I think I floated something like 4 years $50 million around here a couple months ago. I think if they could sign him for something like that, I’d be more than satisfied. Somewhere around $12.5 million a year is really all I’m giving him if I’m Ruben.

            So much of what you’re buying is upside. For me, he’s a hard guy to evaluate because there’s: 1) What he’s done and 2) What he could potentially do. If he puts everything together, he’d be among the best players in the game, if not the best center fielder.

  4. lt michaels 3 years ago

    From what I have been hearing from the Phils front office(Rube + Cholly) Darin Ruf will be the Phils LF next year,Dom Brown is in RF. That leaves CF,3B,Bullpen,possibly SP as holes to fill. Major blockbuster notwithstanding, I wouldnt put anything past Rube especially with a new Comcast TV contract approaching in a year or 2.

    Darin Ruf leads the Venezuelan Winter League in HR’s and RBI’s. 8 HR-15 RBI- .99s OPS.
    IMO the Phils success hinges on 1 player: Roy Halladay. If the Phils get the regular Halladay they will win the NL East. If they get the wobbly 2012 version of Halladay its going to be another long year. Was 2012 a fluke or has Halladay hit the wall?

    • ColonelTom 3 years ago

      Ruf’s been impressive, but he has something like 30 plate appearances above AA. That’s a hell of a risk, particularly combined with Brown’s inability to hit major-league pitching (he’s had flashes, but the numbers scream #8 hitter so far).

      If they sign a CF and do nothing else, their best in-house option is probably a platoon on both corners (Nix/Ruf in left, Brown/Mayberry in right). That’s pretty thin gruel for a $170M+ payroll team.

      If they don’t get a big-ticket guy, Ichiro might be a good fit on a one-year deal. He can play all three OF slots and bat at the top of the order, and he hit much better once he got out of the hitters’ graveyard that is Safeco Field.

      • fighterflea 3 years ago

        Phils can do better with trades (Justin Upton, Peter Bourjos) than by doing heavy shopping in the free agent market. B.J. will sign for more than Justin U. is getting. The free agent planets are out of alignment.

        • ColonelTom 3 years ago

          What would the Phils give up to get either guy? I don’t think either team returns their call unless Vance Worley or Cliff Lee is in play.

          • Dylan 3 years ago

            DBacks don’t need pitching. If Angels miss out on Greinke and lose Haren, they’d really like Vance…but I’m not sure Bourjos is worth Vance considering how bad of a hitter he was this year.

          • ColonelTom 3 years ago

            Pitching is all the Phils have to offer, though. Ruf is the only guy anywhere close to the majors who looks (if you squint hard enough) like an impact hitter. I agree that I wouldn’t deal Worley for Bourjos – with Doc’s contract up after 2013, they’ll be very thin behind Hamels and Lee without Vance. They can get a CF via free agency without giving up pitching or prospects.

  5. randyfastman 3 years ago

    The Rangers have boat loads of infielders, I don’t think it would take much to get Michael Young. Only has one year left on his deal so he could be the one year stop gap at 3rd since Cody Asche is presumed to be ready by 2014… and I like Upton more than any other CF option (Bourne is another strikeout machine)

    • ColonelTom 3 years ago

      I like the idea of a one-year solution, but Young’s toast. ISO power numbers the last 4 years:

      .196, .160, .136, .093

      For a guy who’s 36, that looks like someone reaching the end of the line. He’s a poor fielder as well – he’ll catch what he can reach, but he can’t get to much. At this point, he’s Kevin Frandsen, and we already have Frandsen.

      Upton’s a “strikeout machine” as well, if that’s your big worry with Bourn. I’d much rather have Upton between the two, though.

    • Ryan 3 years ago

      If I am making a trade for an infielder in Texas, its going to be Andrus, who could be on the market given the development of Profar.

  6. Lionel Bossman Craft 3 years ago

    How the mighty have fallen. Philles are old and overpaid.

  7. Phillyfan425 3 years ago

    Ever since the A’s got Chris Young, I’ve been interested in Coco Crisp. I don’t know what it would take, but I’d be interested in the Phils going after him. Personally, don’t think it would take a ton (prospect-wise) to get him.

  8. You Know Who 3 years ago

    Amaro needs to stay away from giving another megadeal (Hamilton) just to make a splash. He needs to spend smart or get fired. Enough of this free spending bs that’s left us old with fat contracts. Fix the bullpen give 3b to youk on a 1 year with an option or even get keppinger to play with fransen, and sign either upton on a reasonable deal, if upton is to expensive then sign hunter and ask him to roam cf again. We don’t need to trade the little prospects we have left. If this team is healthy it’ll compete next year.

  9. Fishman27 3 years ago

    I say this should be their off season plan

    Sign BJ upton 4/52
    Sign mike adams 2/10
    Sign youk 1/7.5
    Sign madson or soria 1/3+incentives
    Sign keppinger 1/4

    • You Know Who 3 years ago

      Why youk and kepp? Don’t need both.

      • Jim C 3 years ago

        Keppinger would be super utility guy for when Youk and Utley get hurt

    • philliesphan18 3 years ago

      I like the Soria option, he’s 4 years younger than Madson and has thrown half the innings. Plus, he’s a proven closer who, if he rebounds from TJ surgery, could fill in for Papelbon nicely if he goes down.

  10. Jim C 3 years ago

    I think if Rube make a trade, Dom Brown should be in it. Get some sort of value for him while you still can.

  11. The Data 3 years ago

    “Ryan Howard, 1B: $105MM through 2016″

    Lol

    • Ryan 3 years ago

      “Alex Rodriguez, 3B: $132MM through 2017″

      Double the Funny.

  12. Here is my plan:

    Sign BJ Upton — 5 years 70 million (hopefully that gets it done). While he does have some flaws for sure, I really like his defense and speed….and he is righthanded. At 28 he still has plenty of upside.

    TRADE for Chase Headley — This is the key to the offseason for me. Headley is also 28 and a good defender. He won the 2012 Gold Glove at thirdbase! (though I was shocked). I think it would take Dom Brown, Vance Worley and a top 5 prospect like Sabastian Valle or Trevor May to get it done. Headley should only make about 9-11 million this year through arbitration. He had 31 HR and115 RBI in San Diego!! Just imagine what his stats could be in Philadelphia.

    Then the Phillies could sign a few solid smaller name short term guys for the bullpen, 4th/5th starter, and rightfield. Headley and Upton are both righthanded and fairly young (28) as well as plus defenders. I think this sets them up nicely to contend for a WS for the next 3 years.

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