Galvis may be answer at third

Freddy Galvis, whose season was cut short by injury and suspension, is trying out at third in winter ball. RON CORTES / Staff
Freddy Galvis, whose season was cut short by injury and suspension, is trying out at third in winter ball. RON CORTES / Staff
Posted: November 10, 2012

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - The contingency plan for third base had already been activated before Ruben Amaro Jr. recently placed a call to his father in Venezuela. There are few answers through free agency and a high-priced trade market. If nothing materializes, the Phillies are left with a platoon between Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen.

So Amaro was pleased to hear from his dad, a front office official for Aguilas del Zulia, that Galvis has started workouts at third during winter ball. Former Phillie and longtime major-league infielder Manny Trillo is assisting Galvis' instruction.

"They're going to try to have him play some games there," Amaro said.

It's the latest sign the Phillies could be headed in that direction for 2013. Amaro said he's been active in talking with team executives and player agents at the GM meetings this week, but he expected to leave Friday without having made a move.

More of the talks have centered on trades, Amaro said. The Phillies, like most teams, remain in information-gathering mode.

"I've had a lot of really interesting discussions," Amaro said. "They've continued. That doesn't mean anything. But it's been interesting."

While outfield, specifically a centerfielder, is Amaro's top priority, the third base situation will require some sort of resolution this winter. The top free agent is Kevin Youkilis, who could command a wealthy deal given the dearth of other options and demand for third base across baseball.

Youkilis, 33, has played in 344 games (not all at third base) during the last three seasons. Placido Polanco, 37, logged the identical amount in that span. The knock on Polanco, of course, was his inability to stay on the field. Youkilis would represent an offensive upgrade, but his durability is certainly worth questioning.

Amaro said he believes Youkilis is still an everyday player. The former Red Sox star has been connected to Cleveland for a possible reunion with manager Terry Francona.

If the Phillies do not view players such as Jeff Keppinger or Marco Scutaro as large enough upgrades in relation to their asking price, they could turn to the duo of Galvis and Frandsen.

Late Thursday night Frandsen and the Phillies avoided arbitration and reached a deal, as first reported by CBSSports.com. The contract is for $850,000.

Galvis has played primarily at shortstop, his natural position, this winter. The Phillies abruptly made him their starting second baseman late in spring training when Chase Utley's chronically injured knees prevented him from starting 2012 on time. They believe such a transition to third base would work similarly because of Galvis' strong instincts.

Galvis had never played second before 2012. He has appeared in one game at third, while 19 years old and at single-A Clearwater in 2009.

A fractured back and subsequent performance-enhancing drug suspension cost Galvis most of 2012; his last appearance was June 6. Fully healthy, he has swung a hot bat in Venezuela. He is batting .321 with a .867 OPS in 22 games. Eight of his 27 hits are for extra bases.

The Phillies will soon have Charley Kerfeld and Bart Braun, both special assistants to the GM, in Venezuela to see Galvis.

"He's really playing well at short," Amaro said.

But for the second straight season, that may not be his home in Philadelphia.

"We're going to have to be creative with our club," Amaro said. "That might have to be one of the ways."


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow @magelb on Twitter.


 

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