Friday, November 27, 2015

Checking out the Black Friday bargains on the free agent market

Sure, it would be fun to see the Phillies wade into the major free agent waters this winter.
It's the deepest class in memory, afterall. I'd love to see Jason Heyward patrol right in Philly for the next ten years, and Jordan Zimmerman suit up in red and white pinstripes.
But the Phils are taking the wait and see approach. While that's the wise move - avoiding albatross contracts - I have no doubt that when the Phillies turn things around, they'll be one or two players short of contention and those players will be more expensive to get than this group at that point. So that will hurt.
So while we avoid the biggest names on the market, let's look at some of the bargain options that could help the Phillies in 2016 by taking some pressure off the young kids and being possible trade chips in July, or in 2017. After all, everyone is looking for bargains on Black Friday.
We know the Phillies are looking for pitching, but they could also use an everyday bat. It's not likely they'd look for a corner infield bat or someone to play the middle infield since they probably want to see more from Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. It's probably more likely that they'd grab an outfield bat.

The bats

Jeff Francoeur
Francouer earned a lot of respect from the organization for the way he performed and led the clubhouse in 2015.
It would be nice to keep that around. But his original and hometown ballclub, Atlanta, could come calling for the same reasons. It would be nice to have Frenchy in the clubhouse and keep right field warm for Nick Williams. Going into his age 32 season we should expect something similar to what the Phillies saw in 2015: a guy who his going to put about 3 percent of his plate appearances over the wall, strike out about 20 percent of the time, walk about 5 percent of the time and turn 8 percent of his at-bat into extra-base hits. So if you give him 300 at-bats, he'll hit 10 homers, strikeout 60 times, walk 15 times and have 24 extra-base hits. If he plays better than that, you might turn him into a prospect in July.

Austin Jackson
In a normal offseason, Jackson probably wouldn't provide much value as a bargain. He'd probably be one of the better bats available. Consider that he is youngerish (29 in February) and has a track record of success (a 20.7 WAR from 2010-2014.).
But he's coming off of a two-year run that saw his offensive numbers plummet. He's the best player on this list, in terms of promise and age, so it's unlikely the Phils would sign him.
But the Phils should do their homework on Jackson. If he's available for a short term contract at a decent price, he could provide some value.
If they sign him and - he's played in cavernous Detroit and Seattle - his offense rebounds a bit, he could be worth some prospects in July or the offseason.

Ryan Raburn
The Cleveland Indians declined a $3 million option on Raburn this season, despite his .301/.393/.543 slash line.
The guy destroys lefties. The Indians gave him just 100 plate appearances against righties the last two years. He hit .180 with 0 homers against against right-handers.
So he's a platoon option if the Phils don't resign Francour.

Shane Victorino
The Flyin' Hawaiian is probably looking to play for a winner, so he might be interested in a contender. But that means less playing time. At 35, he's not young. He hasn't been particularly healthy the past two years, playing in just 101 games and hitting .246/.306/.329.
The Phillies, however, could offer their former center fielder a shot at playing everyday and proving what he can do.
It's a low risk; high reward deal. The Phils wouldn't have to offer him much money, and they could also promise to try to shop him to a contender in July and August. He is just two years removed from hitting .294/.351/.451.
He's not a bad guy to have around in the clubhouse either.


Wei-Yin Chen
A 29-year-old with his track record would normally be the fourth or fifth best pitcher on the market, which would inflate his salary. Instead, he sits down a list topped by David Price, Zack Greinke Jordan Zimmerman, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardizjia, Mike Leake and mayeb Kenta Maeda. There's a chance he could be had for a shorter term deal that doesn't eat up too much salary space.
Having a guy who averaged 177 innings the past four years, just turned 30, and pitched to a 4.14 FIP and 1.252 WHIP in the American League East would sit well in a division with the Braves and Marlins offenses.

Doug Fister
Going into this season, Fister looked like a solid mid-rotation starter. He'd averaged 13 wins, a 3.22 ERA, a 3.51 FIP and a 1.203 WHIP over 534 innings from 2012-2014.
Then he tanked in 2015. So he's going to be cheap.
 He could be a valuable asset if the Phils can get him to eat 170-200 innings. If he pitches well enough to trade for a prospect, great. But it's more about the innings. 

Mat Latos
This guy had a terrible run in 2015, pitching ineffectively for three teams.  But he's 28 and in his previous six seasons had put up some good numbers, even finishing in the top 10 in Cy Young votes in 2010.
From 2009-2014, Latos had a 60-45 record with a 3.34 ERA, which was remarkably close to his 3.41 FIP. He had a 1.168 WHIP, allowed 7.8 hits, 2.7 walks and .8 homers per nine innings to go against 8.1 strikeouts. 
From 2009-2013, he averaged 200 innings pitched. that's fallen to 109 innings pitched per season the last two years, but if the Phils can sign him and get 150 innings out of him, that takes pressure off the pen and the young starters. And if he pitches well, you could turn him into a prospect or two.

Maybe the Phillies don't sign any of these guys. But all seven could give the Phillies a bit of value as they try to move up from the basement of the National League.


GM-Carson said...

I predict Chen to get 4-5 years and $60-80M

Bob D said...

Latos and Victorino are 2 I think would help the team and be good fits. However other factors will play into if they bring in someone to fill those spots such as trades and rule 5 picks. Another pitcher for rotation will likely happen and I'm hoping they do go the route of a decent quality veteran such as Fister or even Lincecum. As for rule 5 there is one other player left out there who could be interesting. Jabari Blash a corner outfielder from Mariners who is 26 and hit .271/.370/.576 with 32 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A this year in 2015. He had about 60 walks to 120 strike outs which is not great but not extreme. I hate high strike out rates, but the power potential is big.

Beer-a-Thon said...

I'd offer Latos $5M with mutual $10M option and performance based incentives.

Having Victorino back would be fun. I could see him taking a very small deal 1 YR/$1M.

That Jabari Blash sounds interesting. That's real power. Gotta think if given a season worth of at bats he'd be able to hit 20+ homeruns and walk enough to keep a decent OPS.

ripjgarcia said...

a dark time for Philly sports..

Bob D said...

The Phillies future is all about AAA and young MLB players this year. If Eickhoff, Nola, Franco, Herrera, Giles, and a few others can progress next year that provides a good base to build upon. Then at same time there are a few in AAA that could place themselves as potential MLB players by 2017. Williams, Thompson, Alfaro, Crawford, Eflin, and Knapp being the ones with most upside. The team actually has both quality and quantity. This time next year we may be talking about how 5 or 6 of the 8 position players are set for next several years and at least some of the pitching is set as well. Don't be surprised the team is closer to a 500 team than the worst in league. A good sign will be if they are winning more during the 2nd half of year.

GM-Carson said...

Phils have been busy claiming players off waivers.

Just picked up defensive outfield Peter Bourjos. In past weeks have claimed relief pitchers Dan Otero, Alec Atcher, and Mike Moriarti. I suspect that the last two could be designated for assignment and clear waivers, meaning Phils could stash them in minors without having to give them 40-man roster spot. We'll see. Currently the Phils only have 1 spot open on the 40-man and they damn well better not pass up a pick in the Rule 5.

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