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Phillies targeting less than exciting free agents

Gone are the days of signing big-name free agents. Outside of Yasmany Tomas, the Phils are going bargain-hunting.

Brandon Morrow is an arm the Phillies should target
Brandon Morrow is an arm the Phillies should target
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

There will be no five-year deals for relief pitchers this year.

Sorry, Philadelphia.

With the exception of the possible signing of Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the Phillies are not going to be the big spenders in free agency that they have been in the past.

They're not signing Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields, Pablo Sandoval or Nelson Cruz. This year, some other team is going to have to overspend for a free agent in their early-to-mid 30s.

This year, the Phils are looking for players who aren't going to shackle them long-term. Players looking to sign short-term deals only need apply. No more albatross contracts for relief pitchers who have long histories with injuries or only pitch in 3.5% of their team's innings.

That's not to say Ruben Amaro and Pat Gillick aren't going to do some things this winter. As we wait to see what A.J. Burnett decides to do, the Phillies are likely to add another starting pitcher to the mix. They're likely to add another position player or two. They're likely to do something with Ryan Howard, and of course the big speculation is that Cole Hamels could be traded.

But assuming Hamels stays put, the Phils will be looking at some of the potential buy-low candidates in free agency this off-season. Here are five starting pitchers and one outfielder who they could, and should, target.


The Blue Jays declined an option on him, making Morrow a free agent. Last year, in just 33.1 innings, he put up a 5.67 ERA with a WHIP of 1.650. But once upon a time, Morrow was a big-time strikeout arm. In 2011, he went 11-11 with a 4.72 ERA but led the league in strikeouts per nine innings (10.2). In 2012, he went 10-7 with a 2.96 ERA in 21 starts (124.2 innings).

The injuries he's suffered over the last three years include an oblique strain, a nerve injury in his forearm and a torn tendon in his finger. He still threw 94 mph last year and has the ability to strike a lot of guys out. He'll be a popular high-risk, high-reward candidate for teams in situations similar to the Phillies.


Anderson made just eight starts for the Colorado Rockies last year, posting a 2.91 ERA and a 1.315 WHIP in 43.1 innings. The most innings he's ever thrown in his career was 175.1 in 2009, his rookie season with the Oakland A's. Since then, he's pitched 112.1, 83.1, 35.0, 44.2, 43.1 over the last five years.

His stuff is there, and the Rockies reportedly want him back. However, Anderson will likely want to move to a more pitching-friendly environment to re-establish his value. He has undergone a Tommy John surgery, a broken foot and has had surgeries on his back and broken finger this year.

Anderson's biggest selling point is his age. He'll be just 27 years old next year.


Billingsley has missed most of the last two season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013. He then suffered an elbow injury this year and tore a flexor tendon during rehab. When he was healthy, he was pretty darn good, with a career 3.65 ERA in 1175.1 career innings pitched. He will turn 31 next year, but has not pitched in a Major League game since April of 2013.

Billingsley's injury history may be too scary for a team to consider at any price. But it would be hard to fault the Phillies for offering him a one-year deal at about $4 million on the chance he is recovered and effective.


Reports out of San Diego are that Johnson wants to re-sign with the Padres, after agreeing to a one-year, $8 million deal last year. He never pitched a regular season game for San Diego, undergoing Tommy John surgery in April.

At this point, the former Marlins ace has been a reclamation project too many times to have any confidence that he will bounce back. Not only that, San Diego's spacious ballpark is a much better place for a pitcher to try and restart his career. But the Phils could end up casting a line anyway.


Floyd pitched well in nine starts for the Atlanta Braves last year coming off Tommy John surgery the year before. That was up until he broke a bone in the elbow on his throwing arm which ended his season. However, in those nine starts, Floyd put up an ERA of 2.65 in 54.1 innings.

Plus, Floyd was the Phillies' first round draft pick back in 2001, and you know how much the Phils love to bring back their long-lost sons.


Rasmus wasn't injured in 2014, he was just bad. He hit .225/.287/.448 and was benched for all of September. That was coming off a year in which he hit .276/.338/.501 for the Blue Jays in '13. In 2013, he was worth 3.3 bWAR, but last year, it was 1.6.

Toronto declined their option on Rasmus, and at just 28 years old, is perhaps the most intriguing buy-low position player on the market. Until last year, he was an above average defensive center fielder, and still has potential as he hits his prime.

This move would likely only happen if the Phillies jettison two of their three starting outfielders or if they don't sign Tomas. It is possible there is a team out there that would take him on a three-year deal, but a one-year pact at around $8-10 million is more likely.

The Phillies should be focusing on players who are looking to restart their career and steal a year of cheap productivity out of them. Obviously, more players might become available if the Phils end up trading some or many of their veteran players.

But at the very least, these six players should be on Amaro's radar.