With the MLB general managers’ meetings now concluded, let’s take a look at some of the rumors surrounding the Phillies outfield situation that already have the hot stove warming up.
We’ll start with the big one first. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has been in contact with Josh Hamilton’s agent. Josh Hamilton, the Texas Rangers center fielder, who hit .285 with 43 HRs and 128 RBI, is probably the sexiest name on the free agent market. He is sure to command a huge contract that will pay him in excess of $25 million per year. At 31, whoever lands Hamilton will immediately turn into a contender, but will also be married to the slugger during his less productive years at the end of that deal. There is no doubt that Hamilton will help a team, and could certainly help the Phillies offensively, but I’m not certain Hamilton is a fit on this Phillies team. First off, he’s a left handed bat, and that is probably the last thing the Phillies need. Secondly, another mega contract for an aging player may not be the best thing for the Phillies. They’re already weighed down with them as it is. Josh Hamilton seems like a long shot for the Phillies.
Michael Bourn is another player on the Phillies radar. Bourn, the former Phillies prospect that was traded away, has turned himself into a legitimate top of the order hitter. He didn’t have his best season last year, but nonetheless he will be highly sought after on the free agent market. His agent is Scott Boras, and many speculate whether the failed negotiations between Ryan Madson and the Phillies last year will leave a chasm in their relationship with the super agent. In the end, that’s doubtful. Boras’ job is to get deals done for his clients. There is little emotional attachment to whoever decides to pay his client best. If it’s the Phillies who make the best offer, then Michael Bourn will be a Phillie. As good as Bourn is however, he lacks the one key component to his game that the Phillies are in most need of… Power. He batted .274 last year and hit 9 HRs. He had a .348 OBP, but added 42 stolen bases. Depending on what kind of money he’s looking for, Bourn may not be the answer for the Phillies either. I would not overpay for Bourn’s services. He may be young (29) and fast but I’m not sure he gives the Phillies the kind of production that they need. Unless they were to add power at another position.
Another name that the Phillies have been connected to, and whose agent Ruben Amaro Jr. has had contact with is outfielder BJ Upton. Upton is 28 years old and is a right handed hitter. He is coming off a season in which he hit .246 with 28 HRs and 78 RBI. BJ Upton is a career .255 hitter and a right hander, and plays excellent defense in center field. Upton seems to be among the Phillies top priorities. While I don’t see him as that can’t miss kind of player, his power, which has gotten more consistent in recent years, would be a huge plus for the Phillies. At 28, signing him to a 5 or 6-year deal at $13-16 million also wouldn’t break the bank or leave you with a washed up player at the end of the term. Upton may be the best fit for the Phillies which is why he’s probably been linked to them since last year. The Washington Nationals have also been linked to Upton.
It may be early in the offseason, but the Phillies have a lot of work to do, and appear to be wasting little time laying the groundwork. The hot stove is already beginning to warm up and should be ablaze in a few more weeks. As always, we’ll be here to keep you updated.
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