Jacoby Ellsbury. Nelson Cruz. Carlos Beltran. Shin Soo-Choo. Curtis Granderson. Marlon Byrd. Michael Morse. Corey Hart. Chris Young.
The free agent outfield situation this off-season has no easy answer. All of the players listed above would likely be an improvement over the train wreck that was the Delmon Young Experience last year, however, the inflated free agent market and the flaws of the gentlemen listed above make signing any of them risky.
Of course, Amaro doesn't HAVE to get an outfielder on the free agent market. He could shore up the glaring hole in the outfield via trade. Doing so will force him to give up some young talent, for sure. But the return could be exactly what the team needs in 2014 and beyond.
So, here's a look at some potential trade targets that Amaro may consider this off-season.
Let's just get this one out of the way quickly. Marlins GM Dan Jennings says Stanton is not going anywhere and will not be traded. And even if this was just a smokescreen, the Phils don't have enough pieces to get him. So, can we please just put this one to bed for the rest of the off-season? Thanks.
Like the free agents listed earlier, acquiring Kemp would carry with it a series of risks. He missed 52 games last year because of a bad ankle and had surgery last month on his left shoulder. Just two seasons ago, Kemp was the MVP runner-up, posting a bWAR of 8.1, however, his bWAR the last two years has been 2.4 and 0.5. Kemp is also very expensive, signed through 2019 for $128 million, owed $21 million in 2014.
Still, Kemp turns just 29 next year and did manage to hit 23 HRs two seasons ago while playing in just 106 games. Last year, however, he hit .270/.328/.395 with only 6 HRs and 15 doubles in 73 games. The Phillies would be hoping for a bounce-back season from Kemp, aiming to get at least 3.5 bWAR out of him at his current salary.
The man who beat out Kemp for the 2011 NL MVP award missed the last 65 games of the regular season after being suspended as part of the Biogenesis investigation. The admitted PED user has a black mark on him, and it's possible that Milwaukee could be convinced to trade him for pitching.
However, Braun only played 61 games before his suspension last year because of problems with his right thumb. It was the first time he'd ever hit the disabled list, and his shortened season resulted in just nine homers and 14 doubles in 253 PAs. He did hit .298/.372/.498 for an OPS of .869 and, if healthy, should return to his bWAR levels of 2011 and '12 of around 7.0. He'll play 2014 at 30 years old.
Braun's contract may not be AAV-heavy for a few years (just $10 million in 2014, $12 million in '15), but it jumps dramatically starting in 2016 ($19 million a year through 2018) and then is $18 million in '19 and $16 million in '20. He's owed $113 million through his 36th birthday. That's a lot of money to commit to a confirmed PED user.
Gonzalez is another perennial MVP candidate who missed much of 2013 with an injury. He battled a chronic right middle finger problem from July through the end of the year, resulting in him playing in just 110 games. He did win the Gold Glove in left field (his third), and managed to hit .302/.367/.591 with 26 HRs, 23 doubles and 6 triples in 436 PAs.
Unlike the trade candidates listed so far, he is a left-handed hitter, although he did well last year against left-handed pitching, hitting .310/.340/.535 with 8 HRs in 153 PAs. For his career, he's hit lefties to the tune of .281/.325/.470. That'll do.
As for the always talked-about home/road splits, last year CarGo hit .273/.354/.576 at home for a .930 OPS. He hit BETTER on the road ..381/.606/.987 for an OPS of .987. For his career, it's a little different, with a home OPS of .992 and a road OPS of .774. So, there is a bit of a split there.
However, if you want a friendly contract, Gonzalez' is among the friendliest of all the big-name trade targets, which is probably why he won't be moved. He's owed $10.5 million in 2014, $16 million in '15, $17 million in '16, and $20 million in 2017, and he's only signed through his 31st birthday. He plays next year at just 28 years old. I can't imagine Colorado will trade him.
Like Braun, Kemp and Gonzalez, Bautista is a perennial MVP candidate who missed much of last year (and the year before) due to injury. Bautista played in just 118 games last year, missing time for both a sprained ankle, back soreness and a severely bruised hip bone. He played just 92 games in 2012.
His 2013 numbers were down a bit, hitting .259/.358/.498 for an OPS of .856, with 28 HRs and 24 doubles. His bWAR of 4.1, however, was very good, although a far cry from the 7.1 in 2010 and 8.1 he put up in 2011. He's only signed for the next two years at $28 million total (with a 2016 team option worth $14 million), so he's relatively cheap compared to the options listed so far.
He's also older than the other options listed, and at 32 years old, is likely on the downside of his career. But that's part of what makes a trade for Bautista more realistic. Toronto could move him to make space in their outfield for Melky Cabrera, Rajai Davis, Colby Rasmus and Anthony Gose (although Toronto could simply move Bautista to DH if they chose to). My feeling is he gets traded somewhere, though.
A long-rumored trade target of the Phillies, Willingham had a disappointing second season with the Twins, hitting .208/.342/.368 with 14 HRs and 20 doubles in only 471 PAs. He played in just 111 games after hitting the disabled list in July with a torn meniscus and bone bruise in his left knee. The year before he hit .260/.366/.524 with 35 HRs and 30 doubles for Minnesota.
He'll be 35 next year and is owed just one more year at $7 million. If the Phils were to trade for him, it would be with the hope that his weaker '13 numbers were the result of his injury and that he would return to form in '14. His defense isn't outstanding but his offense will get you 2.5-3.5 bWAR, which would more than cover his $7 million salary.
Hey, what do you know! Another player coming off an injury! Buster Olney reported Bourjos is definitely on the market as Los Angeles' payroll issues have the Angels looking to upgrade their starting rotation via trade, but Bourjos didn't help his trade value by playing in just 55 games last year. This after a season in which he played in just 101. Bourjos has been a rumored target of the Phils for over a year now, however, if you're looking for an impact bat, you're coming to the wrong place. Bourjos' value comes as a defensive center fielder. In his career-best 2011 season, he hit .271/.327/.438 with 12 HRs, 26 doubles and league-leading 11 triples. That was good enough to run his bWAR up to 5.1.
But since then, he's been nothing more than a fourth outfielder, offensively. Last year he hit .274/.333/.377 in just 196 PAs and hit only .220/.291/.315 in 195 PAs the year before. The Phillies need more offensive from whatever outfielder they trade for, meaning Bourjos likely isn't that guy unless, at 27 years old next year, he can tap into a power source he has not found as of yet.
One other Angels outfielder rumored to be on the trade block is the power hitting Trumbo, a right-handed hitter who slammed 34 HRs, 100 RBIs, and 30 doubles last year. He was healthy, accumulating 678 PAs, will turn just 28 next year and is arbitration eligible, due a raise to about $4-5 million next year. He's also under team control until 2017.
That's a lot of good stuff right there, huh?
Here's the bad news. Trumbo is a strikeout machine, and he hardly ever walks. Last year he hit .234/.294/.453 for an OPS of .747, which ranked 44th in the American League. He struck out 184 times and walked just 54, posting a K-rate of 27.1% and a BB-rate of 8.0% (which was actually the best of his career). That .294 on-base percentage is especially scary. Not only that, he's more of a first baseman than an outfielder, although he can play in the outfield if need be. He's just pretty lousy at it, as his bWAR of 2.2 in '13 would indicate. He is an incredibly frustrating hitter to watch.
CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury reported Sunday that Trumbo is high atop the Phils' wishlist. Only one problem with that. Trumbo is virtually identical in every way to Darin Ruf, only Ruf costs 10 times less and will likely generate a better on-base percentage and BB-rate, while hitting the same amount of homers. Trading for him doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
Did you know Quentin has never played in more than 131 games in a single season? Did you know he's only played 130 or more twice? And that he's only played in more than 100 three times? Starting in 2008, he's played in 130, 99, 131, 118, 86 and 82 games. A right knee injury forced him to miss the last two months of last season.
When healthy, Quentin is a decent, if not spectacular bat. Last year he hit .275/.363/.493 with 13 HRs and 21 doubles in 320 PAs. His career .255/.350/492 shows a guy who can get on-base and has some decent pop at the plate, but he has trouble staying on the field. In those injury-shortened seasons, Quentin has hit 36, 21, 26, 24, 16 and 13 homers. Additionally, the last two years he played in San Diego, a noted tomb for home run hitters.
And given that injury history, paying Quentin the $9.5 million he's owed next year and the $8 million he's owed in 2015 (his age 31 and 32 seasons), AND giving up talent in return, doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.
And... he's also a hot-head.
A rumored trade target of the Phils last year, Fowler could be on the move if the Rockies decide to shift Carlos Gonzalez to center field. Fowler has battled through dings and dents the last couple of years and is due $7.35 million next year, with one year of team control after that. Last year he hit .263/.369/.407 with 12 HRs, 18 doubles, 3 triples and 19 stolen bases in 492 PAs as Colorado's lead-off hitter.
He's not a power bat. Fowler will hit some homers, but the injury-prone center fielder is more likely to get on base, hit the gaps and use his legs to get his hits. Not only that, there is concern Fowler wouldn't be as effective away from Colorado. Last year, he hit .311/.396/.478 with a BAbip of .358 at home. On the road, he hit .214/.343/.678 with a BAbip of .283. For his career, he has an OPS of .880 at home (.365 BAbip) and .694 (.329 BAbip) on the road.
Still, he'll turn just 28 next year with two years of team control. He's certainly affordable for the Phils, but wouldn't necessarily give the team the power they are so desperately looking for.
So, there are some options out there via trade. But most of them are no less risky than signing a free agent.