As the team struggled toward the July 31 st trading deadline, decision was made to trade OFs Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, despite the latter having another year remaining on his contract. While the Phillies played better ball towards the end of the season, it is clearly obvious they need a new plan when it comes to their outfield.
The offseason did not get off to the best of starts for them as LF Juan Pierre signed with the Miami Marlins. Pierre was part of the options the Phillies were considering moving forward with. Much talk has been about the Phillies potential interest in free agents Josh Hamilton and BJ Upton, with the Phillies discussing numbers with Upton. In my crystal ball though, I see Upton in Atlanta and Hamilton in San Diego.
So where does that leave Philadelphia? I understand the importance in a centerfielder, but they should not over react if they do not land Upton. I suggest they focus on the corners, upgrading both leaving money available to address other needs such as 3B and the bullpen. In my opinion, the first player they should sign is a guy the Phillies remember very well from his 2010 postseason success against them. Cody Ross had a breakout season in Boston and has proven he can play every day. His power would work well with the dimensions at Citizens Bank Park. The only thing is, he earned himself a two year deal which should pay him about $14 million total as he just played out a 1 year, $3 million deal with Boston.
For the other corner outfield spot, they should make an offer to Nick Swisher. Yes he will be looking for a long term deal, but he will soon realize he is not getting a 4 year contract. I am thinking two years, $24 million with an option for a third season. Swisher can bat in a number of spots in the order and will have a good presense in the clubhouse. Playing the last several seasons at Yankees Stadium should allow him to continue to put up the regular season numbers he put up with the Yankees.
As for centerfield, I am proposing a trade. The Angels are looking to move Peter Bourjos, who is an excellent defensive CF with a lot of speed. The Phillies can bat him leadoff. Though he has not hit for a tremendously high average, he will give them a leadoff batter and should be able to put up numbers similar to what Pierre gave them last season. If the Phillies traded Domonic Brown to LA, they would likely get another piece back. With the prospects of adding a thirdbaseman ahead, the lineup could be Bourjos-Swisher-Rollins-Howard-Ross-Utley-3B-Ruiz-P. Add in a Kevin Youkilis type in the 3B spot, that lineup becomes much more balanced than it was this past season.