Victorino, Ibanez, Blanton?

The Phillies payroll sits at $143 million for 2011 with Durbin and Francisco (and obviously Werth) unsigned. Anticipating that Contreras will leave via free agency, Durbin will be signed for another couple years by the team, Francisco will be offered arbitration and Kendrick will be non-tendered, let's figure on about 4.5 million between the two, which puts the team at 147.5 million with a big hole in RF and a few spots to fill on the bench.

Clearly the Phillies are going to have to go get a right-handed bat with some pop (Manny Ramirez? Magglio Ordonez?). Even projecting them for a payroll of $150 million means they will need to clear some salary in order to do that.

The way I see it, the three most likely pieces to be moved are Victorino, Ibanez, and Blanton.

Here is the Phillies roster, as it currently exists, for the 2011 season:

Halladay - 20
Oswalt - 16
Hamels - 9.5
Joe Blanton - 10.5
SP5 Open

1B Howard - 20
2B Utley - 15.3
SS Rollins - 8.5
3B Polanco - 5.4
C Ruiz - 2.75
LF Raul Ibanez - 12.2
CF Shane Victorino - 7.5
RF Open

Bullpen: (plus .25 Romero buyout)
Lidge - 12
Madson - 4.8
Baez - 2.75
Bastardo - minimum

Schneider - 1.6
Gload - 1.6
Francisco - arb1 (1.5)
Valdez - minimum
Open - infielder?

-7 million from Oswalt trade + 2 minimum contracts for Bastardo and Valdez = $146 million and 6 open spots to fill. A fifth bench man will come cheaply, as will at least 1 or 2 interior replacements in the pen. I would guess the Phils go sign one fifth starter/reliever type in free agency (like Contreras) who winds up in the pen alongside two out of the Mathieson/Zagurski/De Fratus/Schwimer/Rosenberg group. If Kendrick comes back cheaply he will get to compete with Vance Worley for the fifth starter spot. I can't see the team paying Kyle any more than a million to 1.5 either in arbitration or after a non-tender.

At any rate, the team is pretty much going to be right up against my projected $150 before finding a right-handed bat to replace Werth (or the remote possibility of re-signing Werth). So someone needs to go to make room for that to happen.

Ibanez, with his $12 million salary and declining production, is probably the guy RAJ wants to wash his hands of the most. He looked brutal in the playoffs and for stretches this season. That said, Fangraphs still had him for 1.8 WAR and $7 million in value this year.

Blanton produced similar value to Ibanez. Fangraphs had him at 1.9 WAR this year, right in line with his career norm of 2 WAR per season. So he's getting paid about for precisely what he gives you. He's obviously more attractive than Ibanez because he is cheaper, younger and more productive for that money.

Then there's Victorino, who produced another good season this year with 3.6 WAR. At that production, his $7.5 million salary for next year is about half of his worth. He is roughly the same age as Blanton but cheaper and more productive. He is the Phillies most trade-able regular at this point.

Trading Victorino isn't ideal because, while you likely get full salary relief and some kind of prospects in return,  there is no viable center fielder for full-time duty unless the front office thinks Domonic Brown can play there...unlikely as his routes are still raw in right field.

Trading Blanton is also not likely because (a) they couldn't find a market for him last year when he was $2 million cheaper, and (b) that you leaves you with Kendrick and Worley as your 4 and your 5, not exactly ideal given Worley's limited track record and Kendrick's track record of mediocrity.

That leaves Ibanez. No one will trade for him and pay the full bill. I'm hoping the Phillies can find a suitor if they throw in 4-6 million in cash to the trade and get some kind of bench player or bullpen piece in return. That would give them 6-8 million in salary relief, enough to get some kind of decent veteran to take Werth's spot in the lineup and in the field. Brown and Francisco can have some sort of platoon in RF and whoever is signed can play LF, with Gload spelling him on occasion.

If Ibanez proves untradeable (possibly), Victorino could be moved and the Phillies would then make do with Francisco in center field. Considering Francisco produced 0.7 WAR in 197 PAs this year, albeit with most of his fielding coming in LF, he projects as a possible 2 WAR player as a regular, which is perfectly league average and would be just fine.

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