PBR - General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has been pondering his off-season plans for more than a month and finding a center fielder sits at the top of his to-do list.
Unlike year's past though don't expect a major move prior to Thanksgiving as Amaro promises patience before writing that first multimillion-dollar check.
"I don't see us doing anything very quick, I really don't," Amaro told FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "I don't know how this is all going to play out. There are a lot of moving parts for us, different pieces of the puzzle."
Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. likely will have the corner outfield positions secured three and a half months from now when spring training opens in Clearwater, but the rest of the outfield is a question mark.
"Right now, I think center field is a position that is going to have to be addressed externally," Amaro said last week.
Josh Hamilton highlights the current crop of free agent center fielders. However, his asking price of seven years for $175-million is likely far too rich for the Phillies unless he agrees to a back-loaded contract. The next tier of free agent center fielders includes Michael Bourn, Cody Ross, Shane Victorino, and B.J Upton.
Bourn is believed to be expecting somewhere near $100-million, pushing him to the absolute threshold the Phillies likely want to pay. Plus, he hits left-handed and the Phillies already are too left-heavy, making him a less than likely candidate.
That leaves Ross, Victorino, and Upton.
Ross missed a month of the season last year with a broken foot and still put up decent numbers with Boston, hitting .267 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs. The Red Sox are expected to make a hard run at retaining Ross though, plus the majority of his time the last two season's has been at the corner outfield positions.
Victorino is a known commodity, but the Phillies dealt him away last season partially because he underperformed. He finished the year with career lows in batting average (.255), on-base percentage (.321), and slugging percentage (.383). Since the Phillies want to change their offensive approach it's unlikely the club makes a significant run at Victorino, but if the market dries up and Amaro finds himself without a dance partner he may be able to land Victorino on the cheap.
As for Upton, he may be the most dynamic player of the second-tier. The 28-year-old hits from the right side and would break up the middle of the Phillies lineup. He hit .246 last year with 28 homers and 78 RBIs, also stealing 31 bases. The knock on him though is strikeouts - he's whiffed at least 160 times over each of the last three seasons.
Over the coming days I'll break down each player individually and provide analysis as to why Amaro and Co. should / should not make an offer.