The Phillies are angling to make one or even two reasonably significant free agent position player additions, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. Martin Prado of the Marlins and Ian Desmond of the Rangers are among the possible targets, per the report.
There’s an understandable balancing act at play for Philadelphia, which doesn’t necessarily appear to be readying for a push at the postseason in 2017 but wants to bolster its everyday lineup. Heyman says that the organization is mostly interested in finding quality hitters who deliver a good clubhouse presence and are perhaps young enough to represent a bridge to a new era of contention.
In that regard, there’s some logic to both Prado and Desmond. While the former is older (he’ll be 33 next year) than the latter (31), he’ll command a shorter deal for the same reason. Both offer positional versatility as well as reputations as leaders and grinders. Signing up a player who is capable of playing multiple positions (infield and outfield) would make for a more flexible investment as the Phils wait to see how their roster shakes out over the years to come.
Neither player figures to be cheap — they are both posting strong all-around seasons — but they also aren’t top-of-the-class earners. And salary (at least if it’s front-loaded) shouldn’t pose much of a limitation for an organization that has virtually nothing on the books despite its huge spending power. Both are qualifying offer candidates, though, with Desmond especially appearing to be a likely recipient. While the Phillies’ top pick will be protected, the club will surely be hesitant to part with any draft power.
Then, there’s the matter of convincing such players to sign in Philadelphia. Some veterans will surely prefer to go to an organization with greater near-term hopes of contending. But it is hardly unprecedented for a significant free agent to join a club that isn’t pushing the pedal to the floor for the season to come, with Jayson Werth’s pre-2011 signing with the Nationals representing one notable example.
It figures to be a similar sales job for Phillies GM Matt Klentak, who will be able to present any free agent targets with a vision that includes star treatment in a major media market and a rising, high-ceiling payroll to accommodate more additions down the line. Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see how things proceed.