Inside the Phillies: Phillies could get help in the corners from free agency

Posted: November 01, 2012

Second in a series examining the Phillies' potential offseason moves. Read the first part on center field options by clicking here .

The solution to the Phillies' center-field vacancy created by Shane Victorino's departure and John Mayberry Jr.'s inability to take advantage of an opportunity likely will come from outside the organization.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is willing to reveal only that much about his offseason plans.

Exactly who will be where in the two corner outfield spots remains a mystery, too.

Domonic Brown is expected to be in the mix, but which side of the outfield he plays likely will be determined by other decisions that are made.

If, for instance, the Phillies decide Darin Ruf is ready to play left field on a regular basis, Brown could end up as the team's primary rightfielder. If the Phillies decide they can find an attractive rightfielder via free agency or trade, Brown could end up in left, where he seemed better suited during his 51 starts last season.

"You always have to do something to fill certain spots in free agency," Amaro said. "But we'll look at what we have internally, too."

Ruf, after hitting 39 home runs at double-A Reading and three with the Phillies, is using his powerful bat to scream that he is the best option for 2013. The 26-year-old slugger had eight home runs in his first 14 games with Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan winter league. That included two home runs and six RBIs in a game Saturday and two more homers Sunday.

The free-agent market opens Saturday, and here's a look at some of the corner outfielders who could appeal to the Phillies as well as a couple of players who may be available via trade.

Nick Swisher, Yankees. A switch-hitter with power, the 31-year-old has slugged at least 21 home runs in each of his eight full big-league seasons.

Pros: He's a good rightfielder who also can play first base.

Cons: He reportedly is seeking a deal in the same range as the seven-year, $126 million contract that Washington gave Jayson Werth.

Cody Ross, Boston. He is a notorious Phillies killer. His 14 home runs against the Phillies are more than the 31-year-old has against any other team, and that does not include the three he hit with the San Francisco Giants when he was named the 2010 National League Championship Series MVP.

Pros: He can play left field or right field and is capable of hitting 20 or more home runs at Citizens Bank Park. He also could be a leader in the clubhouse.

Cons: He is not a speed threat, and he is looking for a much bigger payday than the one-year, $3 million contract he signed with the Red Sox before last season.

Juan Pierre, Phillies. He proved to be a bargain for Amaro at $800,000 last season.

Pros: He still can run, and he can get on base. If the Phillies go with Ruf in left field, Pierre could play occasionally against tough righthanders.

Cons: There is zero extra-base pop in his bat and no life left in the 35-year-old's arm.

Torii Hunter, L.A. Angels. The 37-year-old outfielder showed no signs of decay in his game in 2012, hitting a career-high .313 with 16 home runs and 92 RBIs.

Pros: He isn't a Gold Glove centerfielder anymore, but he is still an outstanding rightfielder. He could provide a positive influence in the clubhouse.

Cons: He would be difficult to sign if he wanted any more than a two-year deal at about $5 million per year.

Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati. After two mediocre seasons, Ludwick rebounded strong in Cincinnati in 2012, hitting 26 home runs and driving in 80 runs.

Pros: The Phillies want a righthanded bat with power, and Ludwick is capable of hitting 30 home runs at CBP.

Cons: Ludwick is 34 and seeking at least a two-year deal at more than $5 million per year. The Reds want to re-sign him.

Jonny Gomes, Oakland. After hitting just .209 with Cincinnati and Washington in 2011, Gomes signed with the Athletics for $1 million and repaired his reputation in 2012 by hitting 18 home runs in 279 at-bats.

Pros: He may cost more than $1 million for 2013, but not that much more, and the 31-year-old could provide the powerful righthanded bat the Phillies are looking for.

Cons: He strikes out a lot and is strictly a platoon player.

Raul Ibanez, Yankees. The 40-year-old showed he had some life left in his bat after joining the Yankees.

Pros: He is a class act who would be good in the clubhouse and could play against tough righthanders if the Phillies decide to go with Ruf in left field.

Cons: Even though he showed off his power with the Yankees, the Phillies are more in need of righthanded power bats.

Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees. The move to New York seemed to invigorate the future Hall of Famer.

Pros: He plays the game a lot like Pierre, but has more gap and home-run power.

Cons: He is 39 and could be demanding more than he is worth at this point in his career.

Scott Hairston, Mets. Six of his career-high 20 home runs came against the Phillies last season.

Pros: He can play all three outfield positions, and would also be a nice righthanded power bat off the bench when he does not start.

Cons: The 32-year-old has a career .302 on-base percentage, including a .299 mark last season.

Delmon Young, Detroit. The Tigers' primary designated hitter slugged 27 doubles and 18 home runs in 2012 and can play left field.

Pros: He was the Tigers' best hitter during the postseason and is only 27.

Cons: He is a free swinger who had a .296 on-base percentage in the regular season but is a below-average outfielder.

Josh Willingham, Minnesota. He has two years remaining on his contract with the Twins at $7 million per season, but Minnesota is a rebuilding team that might be willing to listen to trade offers.

Pros: He would be the perfect righthanded power hitter at Citizens Bank Park.

Cons: You would have to give up some solid prospects to get the 33-year-old.

Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs. He restored his reputation as one of the game's best power hitters with 32 home runs and 108 RBIs in 2012.

Pros: He would be a solid righthanded power bat in the middle of the order.

Cons: The 36-year-old is owed $36 million over the next two seasons, and that's too much for a guy who also will require the surrender of prospects. The Cubs would have to eat at least half that salary.


Contact Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com.

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