About a month and a half ago, I wrote an article about three possible players that the Phillies might be looking to trade for at the (then) upcoming winter meetings. To this point in the offseason, none of those guys have become Phillies, and the team still has a glaring hole in its projected opening day lineup. Matt Klentak has been fairly quiet in recent weeks, but, with three months to go before opening day, rumors have been flying around the organization.
It’s no secret that the “glaring hole” that I mentioned is in the outfield. I have discussed the issue many-a-time, but the gap in the corners has not been filled to this point. The free agent market has dwindled down, but there are still serviceable bats to be brought on via contracts that benefit both parties. Through what I have read and seen on social media, there are three names that stick out amongst the rest when dealing with possible moves for the Phils.
Jose Bautista, the slugger who spent the last eight seasons hitting home runs for the team up north, has had it made known to him that Toronto is not interested in signing him to a contract as lucrative as the one that he is seeking. He is 36-years-old, and is coming off his worst season since 2012, but “Joey Bats” would a power to the heart of a Philadelphia lineup in dire need of just that.
I am not at all saying that I would be willing to sign Bautista, a 6-time all-star, to the 5 year, $100+ million deal that he was searching for before the 2016 season. However, if he is willing, there would be worse ways to spend money (which the Phillies do not do much of) than to take a risk on giving a 2 year deal to a proven veteran who could assist in the development of a couple of the younger hitters who have not had the convenience of batting in front of a legitimate threat.
At the end of the day, Jose, who hit 22 home runs and batted .234 in 2016, might simply be unwilling to play for a rebuilding team as his career winds down, especially a team that would not be paying him a ridiculous sum of money. Nevertheless, if he does not receive any offers on the open market that satisfy him, then it might be worth a shot for Matt Klentak.
Brandon Moss is coming off one of the best season of his career after hitting 28 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals. Moss, who played in five games for the Phils in 2011, can play both outfield and first base. His versatility would make him a valuable player in Philadelphia because he might be able to take some pressure off Tommy Joseph, who will be entering his first season as a full-time starter.
Unlike Bautista, Moss is not seeking the contract of a perennial all-star. He has shown capability to hit the ball out of the park, but he is also a lifetime .241 hitter and batted .225 in 2016. Another pro in the argument for the Phillies to sign Brandon Moss is that he bats left handed. Remember a certain lefty named Ryan Howard who platooned with Tommy Joseph? Phillies Assistant GM Scott Proefrock told ESPN that the team would search for another platoon partner for Joseph while he continues to develop.
Brandon Moss will also being playing his age-33 season in 2017, so his age would be yet another advantage over Bautista. Based on a combination of expense and the aforementioned age dilemma, I think that Moss would fair much better at Citizens Bank Park than a player like Joey Bats. However, again, it lies in the hands of the front office.
Another Blue Jay on the free agent market is outfielder Michael Saunders. The 30-year-old left handed batter had a career year in his first season in Toronto and batted .381 in eight playoff games. In addition to his playoff success, he was named an all-star for the first time in 2016. But, much like our own Odubel Herrera, Saunders fell off in big way during the second half of the season. He hit .178 in 58 second half games and drove in only 15 runs.
His ice-cold second half turned the Blue Jays off to resigning him. And when he attempted a pre-agreement physical with the Orioles, he failed. Saunders has lingering knee issues, and the injuries have become a concern for many teams attempting to make a deal with him.
If the Phillies’ organization feels that the high risk is worth the high reward, then submitting a generous offer to Saunders could be the deal to make. At only 30-years-old, and seemingly in his prime, Saunders would barely fit the team’s timeline, which (as of right now) is to contend for a playoff spot as early as 2018. It wouldn’t be the best idea to go all-in on Saunders and give him a reckless offer, but signing him could be the first step in adding veterans for the future.
Photo by Interestica (via Wikimedia Commons)