Our own David Cohen highlights a rumbling that the assumed divorce between the Phillies and Roy Oswalt might not be as final as all that. I also saw on MLBTR that speculation is hot and heavy around an Angels-Nationals trade that would send Washington rotation mainstay (and TGP bete noire) John Lannan to Anaheim for outfielder Peter Bourjos. All this, plus the seasonal madness that usually comes upon me as we get close to pitchers and catchers, got me thinking...
A plus defensive center fielder with speed and a bit of pop who will turn 25 just before the start of the season, Bourjos is a valuable piece who's got more tomorrows than yesterdays. The Phillies need to get younger, and the only reason the Angels are looking to move him is that they've got a position-player logjam with an even better CF prospect, Mike Trout, knocking on the door and a glut of corner men in both the infield and outfield. Given the choice between Lannan and, say, Vance Worley, wouldn't they go with the younger, cheaper arm? Then the Phillies sign Oswalt at $5-6 million for one season, and they've upgraded across the board.
Worley actually might have more value than Bourjos. Given our glut of high-ceiling relievers and Anaheim's abundance of infielders, maybe there's even a bigger deal to be made around in which the Phillies add a MIchael Stutes or Justin De Fratus and also land talented utility infielder Alberto Callaspo--think a younger Wilson Valdez with a slightly worse glove but much better bat--or Mark Trumbo, a first baseman/corner OF slugger type.
Bourjos either pushes Shane Victorino to left field or takes that position himself. John Mayberry, Jr. assumes the bulk of first-base duties until Ryan Howard comes back from injury, then moves into a sub role at all three OF positions plus first base, freeing up Ty Wigginton to serve as a frequent sub for Chase Utley and Placido Polanco--both of whom will need an off-day or two each week. Having Bourjos gives the Phils a viable CF replacement for Victorino when he reaches free agency after 2012.
Losing Worley would hurt a little, but if there's one area where the Phils have solid organizational depth, it's the rotation. Joe Blanton is the #4 starter, with Kyle Kendrick and Joel Piniero battling it out for #5 and adequate organizational depth with Pat Misch, Austin Hyatt et al behind them. In a year, the first of the Trevor May/Julio Rodriguez/Brody Colvin cohort should be knocking at the major-league door.
One problem would be that Oswalt at $5-6 million would push the Phillies over the luxury tax limit. I guess it's possible that the Angels might consider Blanton rather than Worley; if healthy, he has to be about as good a bet to perform as Lannan, and the Phillies could cover a large-ish chunk of his salary and still find a way under the limit. Of course, given that he's under control only for a year as opposed to Worley, the Phils would have to put in more on their end--again, maybe one of the high-upside relief prospects. But that seems worthwhile to add one or more pieces who could help the team both in 2012 and beyond.