The Phillies are the newest team to be linked to Angel Pagan, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). The Blue Jays are also still connected to the Pagan hunt, though previous reports had indicated that Toronto was content with its current mix of left field options.
Pagan would be something of a curious fit, at first glance, for a Phillies team that seems pretty set with Odubel Herrera in center and new arrivals Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders manning the corner outfield slots. Beyond the starters, Philadelphia also has several internal options (Aaron Altherr and Tyler Goeddel) and veterans on non-roster invites (Daniel Nava and Chris Coghlan) in camp battling for reserve roles. The Phils have stressed Kendrick’s value as a multi-position player, however, so the club could now be considering giving Kendrick less time in left than originally anticipated. The right-handed hitting Kendrick isn’t exactly an ideal time-share candidate for second baseman Cesar Hernandez (a switch-hitter), third baseman Maikel Franco or first baseman Tommy Joseph (both right-handed bats), though if Kendrick could spell any of these young players on a regular basis and still maintain an everyday presence in the lineup.
As I noted in my recent look at the Blue Jays’ offseason, there is quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the team’s left field situation. Steve Pearce is the Jays’ top option in left, though he has yet to play the position in spring action as he recovers from elbow surgery, and Pearce might eventually be required at first base if Justin Smoak can’t handle an everyday job. A platoon of Melvin Upton Jr. and Ezequiel Carrera is also not ideal, as Carrera is a reverse-splits batter who hits lefties better than righties and Upton just struggled badly after joining the Jays last summer. Dalton Pompey, meanwhile, is out of action due to a concussion.
Several teams (including the Braves, Royals, Pirates, Nationals, and Orioles) have been linked to Pagan this offseason, though the veteran is holding out until he receives a Major League contract, reportedly in the neighborhood of $5MM. Pagan has a case for such a commitment, given that he hit .277/.331/.418 with a career-best 12 homers over 543 PA for the Giants in a 2.1 fWAR season last year. Pagan is 35, however, and is also just a season removed from a below-replacement level (-0.7 fWAR) year in 2015, though he generated a combined 3.1 fWAR over 167 games in 2013-14. Pagan is no longer a viable center field defender, though he could fill play there in a pinch; presumably he could also handle right (though he hasn’t played the position since 2010) and he graded out as a decent left fielder last year with the Giants.
The switch-hitting Pagan has been notably better against right-handed pitching over the last few years than he has against southpaws, making him a good fit on a very right-handed Jays roster. Philadelphia has Hernandez (a switch-hitter) and Herrera and Saunders as left-handed bats in the everyday lineup, while Coghlan and the switch-hitting Nava are the left-handed options amidst the backup outfield contingent.