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Phillies rumors: poised to add veteran free agents this off-season

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With an empty payroll and an offense that needs help, a new report says the Phils are expected to pursue a pair of veteran bats.

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies offense in 2016 has been populated by a number of young, undisciplined hitters and a smattering of below average veterans acting as filler until younger, more talented prospects could arrive.

The results have not been good. They are dead last in the Majors in runs scored, last in runs per game, second-worst in batting average and last in on-base percentage.

So it is perhaps not a big surprise that general manager Matt Klentak could look to make some changes to the everyday eight. Today’s Knuckleball’s Jon Heyman reports the Phillies will look to do just that this off-season.

The Philadelphia Phillies are going to target one or maybe two veteran hitters this winter, with Martin Prado and Ian Desmond two possible candidates.

Only four members of the Phillies currently have a wRC+ of 100 or better (that being the mark of a league average run producer): Cesar Hernandez (104), Odubel Herrera (105), Cameron Rupp (105) and Tommy Joseph (100).

So while it may not make sense for a rebuilding team, one with minor league prospects who could be ready to see the field in the next 2-3 years, to sign a couple over-30 free agents to 2 or 3-year deals, it is perhaps a sign the Phillies are not sold on young players like Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, Herrera and others.

Prado, who is 32, has had yet another solid season for the Marlins, batting .313/.366/.425, with a wRC+ of 112 and an fWAR of 3.1. Prado has played third base exclusively this season, but can play second base and the corner outfield spots as well.

Desmond is having an outstanding season as the Texas Rangers’ everyday center fielder, batting .289/.338/.466 with 21 homers, 81 RBIs, 99 runs scored and 20 stolen bases, with a wRC+ of 110 and an fWAR of 3.8. He will be 31 next year and can also play shortstop.

Prado is a high average, high on-base guy, while Desmond is a power bat with speed. Both are considered excellent veteran presences in the clubhouse, something that could come in very handy with a young group of regulars around them.

Money is not an obstacle for the Phillies. With Ryan Howard’s contract off the books, the team will enter the off-season with around $25 million committed to next year’s payroll. But what is of shorter supply is roster flexibility.

If the Phils sign either Prado or Desmond, some folks from the starting eight will not be here next year. If the Phils plan on playing Prado at second base, that means Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez is gone before 2017, and both could be on the move if J.P. Crawford is surprisingly ready to start the season out of Clearwater.

It’s unlikely Desmond will play short for the Phils, not with Crawford presumably ready at some point next season. Would the Phillies consider trading Odubel Herrera and put Desmond in center? What if they sign Prado too? Would both play the outfield? What does that mean for the futures of Altherr, Nick Williams and Roman Quinn? Would the Phils be giving up too quickly on some of their young prospects? Or are they starting to doubt on their ability to be cornerstone players?

It’s still way too early to know any of that, but there are a number of interesting decisions that would have to be made in order for the Phillies to add either or both of these players. But if this report is accurate, one thing is true.

The Phils’ brass does not want to go into 2017 with the same everyday eight.

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