Philadelphia Phillies
Phillies are perfectly positioned to take advantage of crowded market for hitters
Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies are perfectly positioned to take advantage of crowded market for hitters

Published Jan. 3, 2017 3:56 p.m. ET

As the markets for hitters continue to stagnate, the Phillies are lying in wait.

The Phillies are open-minded to adding another bat through free agency or trade, according to major-league sources.

The team's wide-ranging list of potential targets includes free-agent outfielder Jose Bautista, who is perhaps the best hitter still available. But the Phils, seeking the lowest possible acquisition cost, consider Bautista a less likely option; they are reluctant to lose a draft pick for signing him, sources say.

The Phillies, operating from a position of strength, need not rush into a move with the supply of hitters far exceeding the demand. The team possesses two significant advantages in the market — more payroll flexibility than most clubs, and more playing time to offer free agents, particularly in right field.

Jose Bautista

 Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Free-agent outfielders Michael Saunders and Brandon Moss are among the other possibilities that the Phillies are considering, sources say.

The club also would be interested in a trade for a hitter such as the Mets' Jay Bruce if they could pull off such a move without giving up any significant prospects, the way it did in acquiring left fielder Howie Kendrick and right-hander Clay Buchholz earlier this offseason.

The Phillies' first-round pick is protected, so they would lose only their second-rounder if they signed Bautista, who received a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays.

But forfeiting even that pick — currently the 45th selection overall — would give the Phillies pause as they continue their rebuilding program, sources say.

The Jays reportedly are still interested in Bautista, who at 36 probably would prefer to play for a contender. The way for the Phillies or another club to entice him might be to offer him a multi-year deal — say, two years, $30 million.

Jay Bruce

 Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Phils do not want to block their young players with longer commitments to veterans, but their right-field candidates — Aaron Altherr, Tyler Goeddel and Roman Quinn — all figure to require more seasoning.

A hitter such as Bautista or Bruce could thrive at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park. Moss, because of his left-handed bat and ability to play first base, also could provide support for Tommy Joseph, who slugged 21 homers in 315 at-bats last season but was better when he had the platoon advantage against left-handed pitching.



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