clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Which free agents should the Phils be looking at?

New, 48 comments

The Phillies are said to be monitoring the free agent market for deals. Who could be potential targets?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies may not be done shopping yet.

While nothing major is expected to go down in the remaining month before pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, there is still time for the Phillies to take advantage of a buyer's market in free agency. And while most of the everyday positions and spots in the starting rotation are seemingly locked down, there is the possibility that, if the deal is right, the Phils could try to take advantage.

At least, that's what general manager Matt Klentak seemed to be saying to Philly Voice's Ryan Lawrence.

"We continue to survey the market ... We're on the phone, we're talking to agents - and other clubs," Klentak continued. "Sometimes they come in trades. We continue to be active. But it's hard to handicap at this point who if anyone it would be, but if there's an opportunity out there, we're going to try to pursue it."

Obviously, it's hard to think of who the Phillies could pursue at this point, but Klentak doesn't seem to be ruling out free agency signings or trades. And anyone the Phils sign would have to be at a position that doesn't block a young player with potential.

But there are a couple players out there that could make sense, even for a team in rebuilding mode like the Phillies.

IAN DESMOND - SHORTSTOP

Earlier this month for numberFireI wrote about how Desmond was already becoming a free agent bargain. He slashed .233/.290/.384 last year for the Nationals, hitting 19 homers and 62 RBI with a rWAR of 2.0. All were the lowest numbers he's posted since 2011.

But he's a former two-time Silver Slugger Award winner who, even in a down year offensively for him, slugged 19 homers, third-most among MLB shortstops. His 62 RBI were tied for seventhy, and his 13 stolen bases were tied for eighth. And his isolated power (ISO) was fourth among MLB shortstops with at least 500 plate appearances.

And in the second half, his numbers returned to career norms. After the All-Star break he slashed .264/.312/.424. Not earth-shattering, but not terrible, either. He also saw his walk-rate improve from 4.9% in the first half to 9.6% in the second half, and his wRC+ of 113 after the All Star Break was higher than the wRC+ he put up in 2014.

Signing Desmond would require the Phils to give up their second round pick. However, if Desmond is frustrated by the market and is willing to sign a one-year deal with the Phillies, they can promise to trade him at the deadline to a contender and, in the process, gain back a couple of prospects, probably better than the player they would have selected with their second round pick.

Yes, that would mean Freddy Galvis would either move to second base or become a utility infielder. Which is the best place for him, quite honestly.

And if Desmond won't come on a one-year deal, well...

PEDRO ALVAREZ - FIRST BASE

This doesn't make as much sense as Desmond, but this is all about opportunity and bargains. And if the price drops low enough, Alvarez could bring back too much value not to pull the trigger.

Alvarez has his flaws. He strikes out way too much, in 29.1% in 2784 career appearances. Last year, in 150 games, he hit .243/.318/.469 with 27 homers and 77 RBI, with a .333 wOBA and a 114 wRC+, but with an fWAR of just 0.2.

The year before, Alvarez' fWAR was 0.0, but followed two seasons in which posted fWARs of 3.0 and 2.2.

Look, he ain't great. But neither are the alternatives the Phils currently have at first base.

Of course, Ryan Howard is going to cost the Phillies $35 million this year whether they cut him or not, and manager Pete Mackanin seems to be intrigued by getting Darin Ruf some more at bats this year. So it's doubtful the Phils would make any changes at first base.

It's also clear Alvarez would have to play much better in 2016 than he did the two previous years if the Phillies were going to flip him for prospects at the deadline.

But he is just 28 years old, and perhaps there is a career year inside there somewhere. It might be worth a cheap, one-year, $5-10 million flier.

HOWIE KENDRICK - SECOND BASE

The Phils seem to like Cesar Hernandez at second, and the 25-year-old had a very good season going there for a while. He finished the year with a .272/.339/.348 slash line with 19 steals in 452 plate appearances. He walked in a career-high 8.8% of his plate appearances, with a .306 wOBA, a wRC+ of 91 and an fWAR of 1.4.

Not bad, right? Certainly enough for the Phils to put him atop the depth chart at second base. Critics point to his .342 BABIP, and that is far above league average (.299). But Hernandez has always posted high BABIPs, .321 in 125 PAs last year and .368 in 131 PAs in 2013, as well as in his minor league career.

That being said, Hernandez is likely not the team's second baseman long-term. And with Kendrick, the Phils could once again land themselves a potential trade chip at the deadline, if he'd be willing to agree on a one-year deal.

Last year, Kendrick hit .295/.336/.409 in 495 PAs, with a .325 wOBA and a 109 wRC+, worth 2.1 fWAR. That could make him a nice piece for a contending team at the deadline this July.

TIM LINCECUM - RELIEF PITCHER

Will he want to be a starter? Maybe. But if I were Klentak, I'd approach him as a reliever.

If the Phils wanted another starter, there are some better possibilities out there, namely Doug Fister, Yovani Gallardo or even Kyle Lohse. But the Phillies seem to be all set in the rotation, whereas the bullpen could really use some work.

Lincecum was shut down at midseason last year after going 7-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts (76.1 IP). He struck out a career low 7.07 batters per nine and walked a career-high 4.48.

He's expected to hold a "showcase" in the beginning of February, and it's likely he'll want to sign somewhere as a starter. But if that doesn't pan out, it might behoove the Phils to see if he has anything in the tank as a reliever, a la Joe Blanton.

Blanton has re-made his career out of the bullpen. He went 7-2 with a 2.84 ERA and a 2.92 FIP in 76 innings, with 32 of his 36 appearances coming out of the 'pen. His fastball averaged 90.8 mph, the highest of his career, and he became a two-pitch pitcher, throwing a very effective slider 31.6% of the time.

Lincecum's velocity dropped to a career-worst 87.2 mph last year. In his prime he averaged 93-94 mph. Clearly, he'll never get back there, but if he can get back the two miles per hour he lost from 2014 to 2015, and can rely on just one other pitch, perhaps he could revive his career in much the same way Blanton has.

It's an outside-the-box idea, but one that could work.

TYLER CLIPPARD - RELIEF PITCHER

Clippard is a two-time All Star who is something of an enigma. Sometimes he can look great. Other teams, ugh.

Last year he had a 2.79 ERA in 37 games (38 2/3 innings) with Oakland and then put up a 3.06 ERA in 32 games (32 1/3 IP) with the Mets.

However, Clippard absolutely imploded in September and October, which is probably one of the biggest reasons he still on the market. He posted a 6.14 ERA in 14 games those two months, giving up 10 runs on 15 hits in 14 2/3 innings.

Still, he has talent, and for a team without a lot of late-inning options, the Phils could use a guy with Clippard's experience back there, if only to keep everyone sane.

BOBBY PARNELL - RELIEF PITCHER

Now 31 years old, Parnell is coming off of two years he'd like to forget. He's suffered two major injuries, a herniated disc and a medial collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Last year, coming back from those injuries, was a disaster. He posted a 6.38 ERA and a 4.18 FIP in 30 games (24 innings).

I mean, it got bad.

However, he is a former closer who posted a 2.16 ERA in 2013 and a 2.49 ERA in 2012. If he's fully recovered from his rash of injuries, he could be another bullpen piece to consider.

MANNY PARRA - RELIEF PITCHER

Parra would be a nice left-handed option for the Phillies out of the 'pen. He had a 3.90 ERA and a 3.07 FIP, striking out 6.40 batters per nine and walking only 1.67 per nine last season. However, his career K/9 of 8.48 is a good deal better.

If the Phillies want a veteran relief pitcher who can get left-handers out, Parra would be a good pickup on a one or two-year deal.

BURKE BADENHOP - RELIEF PITCHER

Badenhop doesn't strike a lot of guys out, just 6.15 over his career and a mere 4.88 per nine in 66.1 IP last season, but he's been able to be effective thanks to a very low HR/FB rate. Last season he posted an ERA of 3.93, and that was the highest it had been since 2011.

The 32-year-old right-hander is no closer, but could be a good veteran arm on the cheap.

Again, all these deals would have to be team friendly, ideally for one year, although two would probably be OK, provided the money isn't too expensive.

Subscribe to TGP Radio!!!

Click here to subscribe on iTunes. - don't forget to leave a review!

Click here to subscribe on Stitcher.