The Philadelphia Phillies, after losing the B.J. Upton sweepstakes to the Atlanta Braves, are pushing for another free-agent center fielder, according to major league sources.
Two teams have made four-year offers to Pagan, sources say. Those teams are believed to be the Phillies and Pagan’s previous club, the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Pagan, 31, enjoyed a terrific all-around season for the Giants, and was particularly effective after moving to the leadoff spot in early August. The Phillies need a leadoff man, and Pagan offers additional appeal as a switch-hitter.
Free agent Michael Bourn, who turns 30 on Dec. 27, is a more established and perhaps even more dynamic leadoff man than Pagan, as well as an elite defender.
The Phillies, however, may be concerned by the perception within the industry that Bourn wants more than Upton, who signed a five-year, $75.25 million contract with the Braves.
The Phillies offered Upton five years and $55 million, sources say, and would pay Pagan less on a four-year deal. They then would have more flexibility to address their needs for a third baseman and setup man.
The Giants, meanwhile, could be in a difficult position if they lose Pagan. They would face increased pressure to re-sign free-agent second baseman Marco Sctuaro, their No. 2 hitter. They also would face limited options in center — Bourn and Josh Hamilton, the other top free agents, might be outside their price range, and the trade market offers few alternatives.
The signing of Pagan by the Phillies also could be a blow to Bourn, who lost two other potential fits this week when the Braves signed Upton and the Washington Nationals traded for Denard Span.
The Chicago Cubs are interested in Bourn, according to ESPN.com. But the Cincinnati Reds, another team looking for center-field help, do not appear willing to spend big dollars at the position.
Pagan’s injury history concerns Phillies officials, sources say — he has played in more than 123 games only twice in his career, including last season when he appeared in a career-high 154.
His speed, athleticism and offensive ability, however, are all enticing.
Pagan last season batted .288 with a .778 OPS and stole 29 bases in 36 attempts. His numbers out of the leadoff spot — a .290 batting average and .829 OPS in 338 at-bats — were even better.