Catz' Corner: Phillies Hot Stove Primer

Everyone has a price for the million dollar man. - Chris Trotman

Free Agent signings are 6 days away, but the Trade rumors should heat up sooner! Here's my guide to everything off season!

For the first time in a few years, the World Series is over before Halloween as the Giants swept the Tigers last night. What this means for Phillies fans is that its officially HOT STOVE TIME!!! Ruben Amaro is certainly at a Best Buy somewhere in the Delaware Valley buying an extra battery pack for his cell phone, with Frankenstorm wreaking havoc, in preparation for the myriad of discussions he'll have with agents, and fellow General Managers in the coming days.

Below is a schedule of important dates to remember:

  • 6 Days after World Series (This Saturday at 12:01 am EDT): Free agents may sign contracts with new teams. Teams have an exclusive five day window to negotiate until then, so Ruben has five days to overpay Brian Schneider and Juan Pierre before they are available to every other team. There are approximately 137 free agents available not including non tenders, which will up that number significantly. (So technically guys, Josh Hamilton could be in pinstripes by Sunday. :) )
  • 12 days after World Series (Next Friday): Last date for players to accept arbitration
  • Nov 7-9: GM meetings in Palm Springs: This is typically when the majority of feelers and deals are constructed. It was here that the groundwork for the Cliff Lee deal was put into place two seasons ago.
  • Nov 30th: Last day to tender contracts: Every year there are a few surprises that come out around this time.
  • Dec 3-6: Winter meetings in Nashville: Blockbusters galore, and rumors abound.
  • Dec 6th: Rule 5 draft: Think Victorino, Shane or Martinez, Michael.

Last year the Phillies jumped into the free agent pool early, with the Jonathan Papelbon signing, and Amaro has a penchant for not waiting out the market if he can get what he wants quickly. Whether that happens this year or not remains to be seen, but you can bet your bottom Monty's dollar that the Phillies will be among the most active teams in the market this offseason, with holes to fill in the outfield, at third base, uncertainty at the back end of the rotation, and in the bullpen, to go along with an aging, injured Ace, an aging, injured second baseman, an aging, recently injured first baseman, a catcher in the last year of his deal, and a lazy, unreliable, not worth his contract malcontent at shortstop.

No one is safe.

No one is off limits.

Anything can happen!

Hell, trade em ALL!!!

A few key points to remember:

1. Rumors are just that. Rumors. 90% of the crap that you'll see is baseless in factual merit, and in most cases is put out there by agents, or GM's (through their Patsies) to up value, get teams that are really interested off the fence, and generally have something to discuss. So be careful when you see the "Domonic Brown and Vance Worley to Arizona for Justin Upton" Rumors.

2. Ruben has a fetish about gunning for the best pitcher available, even when that pitcher isn't needed, so don't count out being in on the Zack Greinke sweepstakes until he signs somewhere else.

3. Whatever the powers that be throw out there, the opposite is likely true. "We're comfortable with Galvis at third, he's been tearing it up in winter ball" really means "hey (insert GM here) i don't wanna give up (insert key prospect Ruben doesn't want to trade) so lets get realistic on (coveted 3B trade target), but if you won't I'll give him up so I don't have to start Galvis at third base. By the way, why don't you take Galvis, he's been tearing it up in winter ball!"

4. Expect the unexpected. Ruben has a way of pulling off deals you wouldn't expect, aren't being discussed, and frankly, aren't on the radar. If there's a rumor floating out there about a third baseman, or outfielder, even if we're not in the mix, we're in the mix. and don't be surprised at all to see something come completely out of left field.

Hot Stove season is fun. Enjoy it. And in closing, here are my two OFF THE WALL TRADE third base solutions, that may or may not, but could, and should be on the radar, which, by virtue of discussing, immediately come off the radar.

John Mayberry/Laynce Nix or Nate Schierholtz to the Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar.

With the recent trade of John Farrell for Mike Aviles, Escobar's name has already popped up in trade rumors last week. We all know about his Attitude issues and I'd be shocked to see him in Toronto on opening day. He'll be available for a song after putting up arguably the worst season of his career and he's played a grand total of 157 innings at third base in his major league career, but he's an above average defender who is one season removed from a 4.2 war season. In addition, he only has one year guaranteed left on his contract (at only $5mm) with two club options for 14 and 15 at the SAME PRICE with NO BUYOUTS. Essentially, the Phillies could look to him as a stop gap, see what they have, and likely trade him whenever for much more than what they gave up to get him. When looking at the other options at third base, I could think of many worse scenarios than a guy who has an attitude in the clubhouse, as long as they can keep that in check and get him to perform.

VANCE WORLEY, DARIN RUF, AND TREVOR MAY + for MIKE MOUSTAKAS

Kansas City is looking to deal one or more of Alex Gordon, Brett Butler, Eric Hosmer or Moustakas for young, cost controlled pitching. I've detailed my opinions on Worley, and I really feel like if they can deal him now for a credible asset they should do it. Moustakas isn't arbitration eligible until 2015, and while he put up 2.9 war in 2012, his traditional statistics left a little to be desired. Still the power potential, cost control, and future value here, combined with his position (third base) make him a very sly target, in my opinion. I'd personally be willing to send a reliever type as well in the above deal for the Moose, and don't be surprised to see something materialize on this one. Including Ruf in the deal also frees up Toronto to deal Butler as well, for another pitcher.In addition, by essentially trading cost control at third base for cost control in the rotation, the money the Phillies would spend on a third baseman on the free agent market can be allocated back to the rotation. In other words, a deal like this lets them go after Greinke, in anticipation of losing Roy Halladay, and Biddle slides into the other spot in 2014.

The point here is to expect the unexpected. there are a myriad of other trade targets out there. I'd love to hear YOUR THOUGHTS on the Phillies' offseason in the comments. Get creative folks!

So let the craziness begin. Dream of Mike Moustakas, or Ben Zobrist, or Chase Headley! Let's just pray we're not stuck with Ty Wigginton.

Catz Out.

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