Ranking What’s Left of the Free Agent Outfielders

This handy-dandy free agent tracker from MLB Trade Rumors shows us who’s left among free agent outfielders. GM Ruben Amaro is reportedly still searching for a veteran outfielder to add to the mix, though the hunt has certainly died down in recent days. Currently, the left-handed Domonic Brown and Laynce Nix, and right-handed John Mayberry and Darin Ruf are slated to man the corners in some kind of platoon or double-platoon.

Using the FA tracker, I’ve divvied up those remaining into a few groups: “Could be worthwhile”, “Not Like They Have Any Other Options”, and “Dear God, Why?”.

Could Be Worthwhile

Scott Hairston

  • 2012 Salary: $1.1 million (one year)
  • 2012 wOBA vs. LH/RH: .368 / .317
  • Career wOBA vs. LH/RH: .353 / .306

The biggest benefit Hairston would provide, besides mashing lefties, would come in pushing Darin Ruf back to Triple-A for a full season. While many fans are anxious to see Ruf prove himself at the Major League level, particularly after 37 impressive plate appearances in September last season, Ruf would benefit from his first taste of Triple-A with very little pressure. Furthermore, the Major League club wouldn’t be punished if it turns out Ruf isn’t able to handle big league pitching as well as advertised.

Hairston is below-average defensively, but is nevertheless much better than Ruf, who only started playing left field last season. The old, slow Phillies won’t have much in the way of speed outside of Jimmy Rollins and Ben Revere, but Hairston can add somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 stolen bases depending on his performance and playing time.

With Hairston looking for a similar salary as he received in 2012, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1-2 million, he would be a safe bet for the Phillies, currently with a $152 million payroll.

Ryan Sweeney

  • 2012 Salary: $1.75 million (one year)
  • 2012 wOBA vs. LH/RH: .160 / .310
  • Career wOBA vs. LH/RH: .266 / .330

Sweeney’s production against left-handed pitching is abysmal, so he would have to be part of a platoon, which would necessitate pushing Laynce Nix back into a bench role. Nix, with a career .235/.317 L/R wOBA split, could likely do what Sweeney would do, and the Phillies are already committed to him anyway. Sweeney’s skills, relative to Nix, include better contact (career 15 percent strikeout rate) and better on-base skills (career .338 on-base percentage).

Not Like They Have Any Other Options

Austin Kearns

  • 2012 Salary: $600,000 (one year)
  • 2012 wOBA vs. LH/RH: .277 / .428
  • Career wOBA vs. LH/RH: .341 / .337

Kearns’ days as a regular outfielder are behind him. The 32-year-old hasn’t logged more than 175 plate appearances in a season since 2010. In limited playing time with the Marlins last year, though, he was average with the bat (.331 wOBA) despite a drastic platoon split (he hasn’t shown one over his career). When he’s right, he has excellent plate discipline (career 11 percent walk rate) and on-base skills (career .351 OBP).

Signing Kearns to be part of a platoon isn’t the greatest way to use him, but given how cheap he will be and the assets he would bring, the Phillies could do a lot worse. Bringing Kearns on board as a bench bat would be superb, though.

Delmon Young

  • 2012 Salary: $6.75 million (one year)
  • 2012 wOBA vs. LH/RH: .357 / .282
  • Career wOBA vs. LH/RH: .352 / .309

Young has had some bad off-the-field incidents, but if the Phillies aren’t concerned about that, Young could provide some value as the right-handed side of a corner outfield platoon. Since he started playing regularly in 2007, Young has never been worth more than 1.7 WAR and has three times posted negative WAR, according to FanGraphs. Baseball Reference WAR echoes this. His defense is awful and he doesn’t draw walks, but he can definitely hit lefties. If his price tag drops significantly from his nearly $7 million salary from last season, he might be worth it, but the Phillies’ best best is to stay away.

Ryan Raburn

  • 2012 Salary: $2.1 million (last year of two-year extension)
  • 2012 wOBA vs. LH/RH: .215 / .217
  • Career wOBA vs. LH/RH: .345 / .306

Aside from playing in the outfield corners, Raburn has played some second base as well, so he could be used as an occasional substitute for Chase Utley when the Phillies want to give him a day off. As his career numbers show, he hits lefties well, so an infield that includes Raburn at second, Michael Young at first, and Freddy Galvis at third would be formidable against left-handed starters. Raburn’s career .174 isolated power is among the highest of the remaining free agent outfielders.

However, Raburn had an abysmal 2012 and turns 32 in April. His numbers have been in a steady three-year decline, from a .382 wOBA in 2009 to .356, .316, and .216. Raburn wouldn’t contribute anything else aside from power and hitting lefties as he doesn’t run the bases well and isn’t much on defense.

Bobby Abreu

  • 2012 Salary: $9 million (Angels picked up 2012 option)
  • 2012 wOBA vs. LH/RH: .312 / .309
  • Career wOBA vs. LH/RH: .335 / .385

This would never happen, but it’s fun to think about anyway. Abreu turns 39 in March and is no longer even a double-digit home run threat, but showed even last year that he still has a great eye at the plate. His 14.4 percent walk rate was right under his 14.7 percent career average and he finished with a .350 OBP. In the last five years (post-Barry Bonds era), only nine other players have finished a season with a .350 or better OBP in at least 250 PA at age 38 or older:

Player OBP PA Year Age Tm
Jim Thome .412 340 2010 39 MIN
Manny Ramirez .409 320 2010 38 TOT
Chipper Jones .381 381 2010 38 ATL
Chipper Jones .377 448 2012 40 ATL
Gary Sheffield .372 312 2009 40 NYM
Jim Thome .366 434 2009 38 TOT
Derek Jeter .362 740 2012 38 NYY
Jim Thome .361 324 2011 40 TOT
Melvin Mora .358 354 2010 38 COL
Craig Counsell .357 459 2009 38 MIL
Jorge Posada .357 451 2010 38 NYY
Ken Griffey .353 575 2008 38 TOT
Bobby Abreu .350 257 2012 38 TOT
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/5/2013.

The most surprising thing about Abreu is that, in those five years, he hasn’t missed any significant time due to injuries. In fact, according to Baseball Prospectus, Abreu hasn’t gone on the disabled list since 1997. In all likelihood, Abreu could probably pass muster as an every day player for the Phillies, but his defense is just so bad that he would cancel out any good that he would bring with his bat, which makes him an excellent fit as a bench player similar to Austin Kearns.

Dear God, Why?

Rick Ankiel – Hire him to entertain fans with throws from the outfield before games.

Jeff Baker – Human ellipsis (…)

Michael Bourn – $$$$$$$

Johnny Damon – He’s done. The 39-year-old posted a .271 wOBA last season.

Mark DeRosa – Since 2010: .220 AVG / .309 OBP / .269 SLG. Turns 38 next month.

Ben Francisco – Insanity is…

Kosuke Fukudome – His last name is now more valuable than his on-field production.

Don Kelly – Career .280 wOBA.

Darnell McDonald – The 34-year-old barely crossed the Mendoza line and had a sub-.300 OBP last season.

Scott Podsednik – He’ll be 37 in March and only hits singles.

Juan Rivera – Somehow, the Dodgers agreed to pay him $4 million last season. The 34-year-old rewarded them with a .287 wOBA and -0.8 WAR.

Leave a Reply



  1. TomG

    January 08, 2013 09:04 AM

    “The old, slow Phillies won’t have much in the way of speed outside of Jimmy Rollins and Ben Revere …”

    Are you assuming Utley won’t play a full year this season? Because he’s virtually never caught stealing (in fact, he has the best stolen base percentage of any active player, stealing 11 last year while being caught only once in roughly half a season); and excels at taking that extra base – first to third on a single, e.g.

    Are you defining speed here as the ability to beat out an infield single?

    Personally, at this point, I’m just hoping the Phillies go with Brown in right and maybe some kind of platoon in left. If Utley and Howard play full seasons and the addition of Adams shores up the late innings and the Phils manage not to blow 20 games in the 8th, they have as good a shot at making the playoffs as they would if they added any of the guys you mention.

    Hairston, though, might be worth it if the price is right. It seemed that guy was hitting homers off us every time we played the Mets. I attended the first game Cliff Lee pitched at CBP last year (Phils lost to the Mets, 5-2, and it wasn’t that close), and at one point Lee seemed to quick pitch Hairston and Hairston just kinda stayed in the box for the next pitch, staring out at Lee as if to say, “Are you for real?”, and promptly hit the next pitch out of the park.

    Lee also gave up a home run to Jason Bay that day. So, um … Sublime? Meet Ridiculous.

    But I would never have suggested we try to sign Bay. He’s Seattle’s problem now.

  2. ColonelTom

    January 08, 2013 09:42 AM

    Hairston must have other suitors – the Yankees, Tigers, Braves, and Mets are all sensible landing spots. He was looking for a multi-year deal in mid-December, and I doubt that’s changed yet. He may be “plan B” for teams still hoping that Michael Bourn falls into their price range.

    Nothing else on that list represents an upgrade over the in-house options.

    I’m still hoping a trade option shakes loose. If Texas ends up signing or trading for another outfielder – they’re still in the mix for Bourn and Justin Upton – they may be willing to give up Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, or Craig Gentry. Any of those guys would help the Phils.

  3. Pencilfish

    January 08, 2013 02:12 PM

    Hairston is below average defensively but “much better” than Ruf?! Unless you have scout reports on his defensive play in AA and winter league, there isn’t much data to support this statement, if he only started playing LF recently.

    Ruf should only be sent to AAA if he underperforms in ST and becomes a victim of a numbers game. If he continues to hit like he did in 2012, it will cover somewhat whatever his defensive shortcomings may be. It helps that Revere will play next to him and make up for Ruf’s perceived lack of range. We played Burrell and Ibanez in LF. How much worse can Ruf be?

  4. JettMartinez

    January 08, 2013 02:19 PM

    “We played Burrell and Ibanez in LF. How much worse can Ruf be?”

    Every time I hear that sentiment, I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach that it’s going to come back to haunt us.

  5. nik

    January 08, 2013 02:38 PM

    If Charlie can find the cajones to sit Howard against Lefties, Ruf would have a shot at 300ABs playing DH/1B/LF against LHP. I actually would prefer a left-handed outfielder as Ruf and Mayberry is enough pop from the right side. I also think one of the main reasons Amaro got Revere is to mitigate Ruf’s defense.

  6. Patrick Gordon

    January 08, 2013 02:38 PM

    Tough to really see them go after any of these options, especially considering it seems Amaro is content with the roster as is. I don’t really see an upgrade out there that would be significantly better than what already is here. Hairston is leaning towards the Mets, from what I heard this morning.

  7. nik

    January 08, 2013 02:39 PM

    Also what about the Cuban outfielders that are available? Cespedes/Puig/Soler all showed that the Cuban talent wave is legit.

  8. Pencilfish

    January 08, 2013 02:40 PM

    More likely to haunt you is the specter of signing a near replacement-level player to help form a LF platoon. This may rob us of the budget flexibility needed for any July deadline acquisitions.

    If we are willing to continue with the Brown experiment in 2013, it is inconsistent not to try Ruf too. He’s 26, so there’s nothing to gain from playing in AAA. If he can’t play the OF in the big league club (like Brown), then we should use him as a trade chip (ie, DH in the AL) in July. If he can help, then why send him to AAA?

  9. BradInDC

    January 08, 2013 03:00 PM

    Darin Ruf is so slow that no matter how good he is at running routes and gloving the balls he reaches, he is going to be bad at defense. That’s all there is to it. Best thing we heard about his D all offseason was a positive comment from an internal report from Venezuela, (read: picked like a cherry and coated with sugar), and BA (I think) saying his arm was “passable”.

  10. hk

    January 08, 2013 03:10 PM


    Puig had 95 PA’s split between Rookie Ball and A Ball while Soler had 149 PA’s split between those two levels. While those guys are listed as top prospects, I think it’s a little early to say that they showed anything about Cuban talent.

  11. Richard

    January 08, 2013 03:12 PM

    “If we are willing to continue with the Brown experiment in 2013, it is inconsistent not to try Ruf too.”

    Non sequitur.

  12. Phillie697

    January 08, 2013 04:23 PM


    $1M is going to rob us of the financial flexibility at the trade deadline? What are we, one of the Florida teams?

    There IS something to gain from Ruf being in AAA… He might not be ready for the majors, and forcing him up to the majors before he’s ready, at the age of 26, will permanently destroy his chances of ever being productive at the major league level. Last time I checked, 37 ABs at the major league level is nowhere near enough to tell if a player is major-league-ready or not. What’s wrong with starting him in AAA, and if/when he rakes it for two months, calling him up when both the front office, and more importantly himself, are confident that he’s ready? By your logic, there is no reason for anyone to play in the minors.

  13. Pencilfish

    January 08, 2013 04:42 PM


    $1M for whom? Hairston? Why do you think he will sign for that little? I read he had other suitors too. Hairston only costs $1M in fantasy baseball…

    You are confusing two issues. Bill’s statement about Ruf being “much worse defensively” prompted my comment about his defensive skills. You seem to be unconvinced about his offensive skills, but that’s another discussion. Anyway, suppose he rakes for 2 months in the minors. Call him up in June. Who does he replace? Hairston? Mayberry? Why sign Hairston then?

    You are generalizing my logic for a specific case, which is a naive assumption to make. I didn’t say we shouldn’t send anyone to the minors.

    If you are not convinced he is major-league ready, there’s only one way to find out. That’s we are doing with Brown right?

  14. Phillie697

    January 08, 2013 04:58 PM


    One big, HUGE difference between Ruf and Brown. Brown HAS raked in AAA. Ruf hasn’t even played in AAA. There is absolutely no psychological reason to send Brown back to AAA, since he knows he can do well there. Ruf can still benefit from some confidence-building in AAA.

    You sign Hairston in case Ruf doesn’t work out. There is that whole thing with not putting all your eggs in one basket thing, especially when said one extra basket doesn’t cost much. If Ruf rakes and we have to send Hairston to the minors, I’m okay with spending that $1M for the insurance. If you’re going to dispute that Hairston will cost that little, then you’re arguing against the premise of Bill’s writeup about him in the first place.

  15. Phillie697

    January 08, 2013 05:02 PM

    BTW, “If we are willing to continue with the Brown experiment in 2013, it is inconsistent not to try Ruf too. He’s 26, so there’s nothing to gain from playing in AAA.” That’s not saying we shouldn’t send Ruf to the minors?

    I’ve made no naive assumptions of any kind.

  16. Joecatz

    January 08, 2013 06:15 PM

    None of these options are better than going into ST with what we have and seeing where were at with Ruf and Brown.

    Unless you sell the farm for an impact bat, you’re going to overpay for a trade right now.

    There will be trades to be made mid February as teams lose players to injury and youth impresses.

    There will be options mid season when pseudo contenders turn into sellers.

    I think it’s kind of funny in a way also, that the biggest thing people have said the past few offseasons has been get younger, and when we go into the season with a 25 year old average OF people scream we need a veteran.

    Give the kids a chance man. If ever there was a year to do it, this is it.

    Also, Phils had the 5th best record in the NL (9th in baseball) playing Mayberry brown and Pierre end of season.

  17. hk

    January 09, 2013 08:10 AM

    They better not sign Sweeney or one of the LH-hitting OF’s from the “Dear God” list, otherwise, I hope someone in the media asks RAJ why he gave away…

    Nate Schierholtz

    2012 Salary: $1.3 million (one year, arbitration eligible)
    2012 wOBA vs. LH/RH*: .195 / .355
    Career wOBA vs. LH/RH*: .309 / .317

    * Playing half his games in a park that significantly suppresses HR’s by LH-hitters.

  18. Miguel

    January 09, 2013 09:07 AM

    Is Grady Sizemore not an option? I’d take any upside left in him over any of those on that list.

  19. Phillie697

    January 09, 2013 11:48 AM

    Grady Sizemore has no upside. With him it’s not just injuries anymore. He has regressed from a peak of 13.2% BB and 17.4% K to 6.1% BB and 28.8% K last year. You can say that’s the result of the injuries, but if said injuries sapped his actual skills and talent, then that’s the very definition of no upside.

    If we’re going to take injury-prone with upside, I rather sign Lance Berkman. At least the man can still get on base.

  20. Phillie697

    January 09, 2013 11:49 AM

    Nevermind, Berkman signed with the Rangers.

  21. Phillie697

    January 09, 2013 11:57 AM


    Not to mention Nate Schierholtz can play defense a little. Better than every OF we’ve got save Revere.

  22. Pencilfish

    January 09, 2013 12:12 PM


    Ken Rosenthal reports that Hairston is looking for 2-yr/8M:


    RAJ would be insane to meet his demand. Even if we sign Hairston for 1M, he’s not the long-term answer if Ruf doesn’t work out. We would be facing the same problem in 2014. We may need a trade, but that’s another discussion.

    Your statement that Ruf can benefit from confidence-building in AAA doesn’t make much sense. He dominated in AA, played above expectations in a measly 37 AB’s in Philly and again played well in winter ball. Why does he need confidence-building?! Brown may need some of that after his putrid performance for the past 2+ seasons, but not Ruf!

  23. Jesse

    January 09, 2013 12:25 PM

    Am I the only one who still believes in Mayberry?

    Even if he only bats .260-.270, he can still be a 15-15 player, rather see him get 100 more PAs than signing Hairston, Sweeney, or Kearns…

  24. Will

    January 09, 2013 12:59 PM

    I second the question as to why a $2M Nate Schierholtz was tossed aside.

  25. Ryan

    January 09, 2013 01:01 PM

    Sizemore didn’t play at all last season. I wonder if there is any upside there if he finally got healthy by mid season. He’s only 30. Could he bounce back ala Carlos Beltran?

  26. hk

    January 09, 2013 01:03 PM


    I believe in Mayberry to the extent that he should start every game (either at 1B or in the OF) in which the opponent starts a LHP and should be the primary PH vs. LHP’s.

  27. VaPreceptor

    January 09, 2013 01:18 PM

    It’s already too late. None of the remaining options solves the problem which is a lack of power. Phils won in 08 with bats…Rollins hits with power, healthy Chase and Howard with a lot of power then Burrell and Werth. They are all gone or old or hurt, and nothing has replaced them. Unless we win every game 1-0, we are in huge trouble…3rd place would be a blessing.

  28. hk

    January 09, 2013 01:35 PM


    The 2011 Phillies hit 153 HR’s, scored 703 runs and won 102 games. The 2012 Phillies hit 158 HR’s, scored 684 runs and won 81 games. The difference is that the 2012 Phillies gave up 151 more runs than the 2011 version. If the 2011 Phillies had enough power to win 102 games, I am not sure why the 2013 version won’t have enough power to win enough games to contend, as long as the pitching reverts back to its 2011 form.

  29. LTG

    January 09, 2013 01:39 PM

    RE: Schierholtz Decision

    My hypothesis is that RAJ decided not to have 3 LH OFs and Shierholtz was the odd man out because Dom is under team control and has better upside and Nix is under contract without options. If Nix were not under contract I doubt RAJ would have let Shierholtz go.

  30. LTG

    January 09, 2013 01:42 PM

    Oh, and RAJ underestimated Shierholtz’s trade value.

  31. Ryan

    January 09, 2013 01:44 PM

    RE: Schierholtz

    I agree with LTG–RAJ didn’t want to own up to the mistake of signing Nix to a two year deal, so Schierholtz was the odd man out.

  32. hk

    January 09, 2013 01:48 PM


    Your hypothesis may be correct, but it is mis-management on a number of levels. Schierholtz is better than Nix and Nix is only guaranteed $1.25M, so this team cannot afford to give away the better player over such a small sum of money. Even if they did not want to keep both of them, why did they have to decide this in December? They should have tendered Schierholtz and tried to trade one of them to at least get a return for Nate if he was the one to go. Finally, why the heck did RAJ give Nix two years in the first place? Prior to that contract, he had never signed a multi-year deal and he had done nothing in his career to warrant that 2nd year. When it was signed, many on here criticized the move only while the RAJ supporters countered with, the “it’s not a big deal, it’s only $1.25M” defense. Now, a year later, it does seem like a big deal since this team that will likely need every win possible has apparently has let that $1.25M be the reason for keeping a lesser player.

  33. LTG

    January 09, 2013 02:50 PM


    I agree with you. I offered my hypothesis as explanation but not justification.

  34. Phillie697

    January 09, 2013 03:35 PM

    Sorry, had to vent somewhere where people understands my pain. Roids people, fine, if the HoF voters want to go on some morality crusade. Biggio, fine, he wasn’t even the best 2B of his generation. But W T F is the voters’ problem with Mike Piazza? Best offensive catcher of ALL TIME with a career OPS of .922??? Are you kidding me??? Who the hell are these freaking voters???

  35. Phillie697

    January 09, 2013 03:43 PM


    Because you’re still operating under the assumption that Ruf is going to do well, period, that’s why you can’t see the other side. What if he sucked in the first month? Hit something like .190/.220./.390 with some ridiculous K rate? He’s going to think to himself, “holy moses, I’m in way over my head!” Then you send him to AAA, and he’s going to think, “crap, I sucked in the majors, I might even suck here!” Instead of giving him the confidence that he has nothing else to learn and nothing else to prove by letting him rake in AAA, and it’s just sink or swim time in the majors, he’s going to sit there and question if he’s even AAA material, and whether some experience in AAA might have made his major league experience different. And you’re doing this all to a 26 year old player, who has next to NO time to recover from this in order to become a productive player down the road.

    With Brown, you ain’t got any more options. He may very well think he sucks in the majors, but sending him back to AAA does nothing, because he knows he’ll do well there, so for him he knows he’s only got one option and one option left, do everything he can to make it in the majors; he ain’t got anymore excuses.

  36. Phillie697

    January 09, 2013 03:46 PM


    And yeah, I agree that Hairston at $4M per would be too expensive of an insurance policy.

  37. Phillie697

    January 09, 2013 03:50 PM


    At no time did Carlos Beltran go 6.1% BB and 28.8% K before, during, or after his injury. No amount of injury should make you swing at junk more, unless you just physically feel like you’re not good enough for the major leagues anymore.

  38. Pencilfish

    January 09, 2013 05:47 PM


    You are correct about my view of Ruf, but only because there have been no signs (so far) that he can’t hit ML pitching. In my opinion, he won’t be any worse than Mayberry or Hairston offensively. That’s why I think we should let him sink or swim in Philly, at least in the first ~2 months. The question is “Can he play LF”? I think Bill exaggerates when he rates Ruf as much worse than Hairston defensively, but we won’t get an answer until he plays LF in Philly. Remember, Revere will play in CF, so that will mask Ruf’s perceived lack of range somewhat.

    If we send Ruf down, Hairston lives up to his 2012 stats, and Brown justifies RAJ’s faith in him, I doubt we’ll call up Ruf in June even if he replicates his AA numbers. You may say, “Well, we’ll bring him up for good in September, and he can be the starting LF in 2014”, but he’ll have lost another year (of his prime?) languishing in AAA. Maybe he is a bust, which means LF needs to be addressed via trade, but why not find out before next off-season?

  39. BobSmith77

    January 09, 2013 07:43 PM

    “No amount of injury should make you swing at junk more, unless you just physically feel like you’re not good enough for the major leagues anymore.”

    Say what?

  40. Phillie697

    January 10, 2013 12:26 PM


    So if I understand you correctly now that we’ve fully flushed out our arguments, the REAL reason why you want to keep Ruf in the majors is because you lack confidence in RAJ to properly handle him, that you worry Ruf will get the same treatment as Brown has the last two years. I can’t say I blame you, and there is certain logic to it, but I really hate having to manage/GM/theorize/strategize around our GM or our manager’s shortcomings, although if it has to be done, it has to be done.

    And, no offense, Revere isn’t superman. He can’t mask both Ruf AND Brown 🙂 I think in the end you can’t count on Revere helping out anyone with OFers on both sides of being, ahm, Burrell-ish. He’s unlikely to shift to one side or the other.


    When you get desperate, you swing at everything. Plate discipline is somewhat tied to your confidence about your ability to hit major league pitching.

  41. Topdown1

    January 13, 2013 01:08 PM

    I don’t see my Phils finishing any better than 3rd place again this year. Anything over 81-81 would be a plus. I’ll be surprised if Utley plays more than 100 games, or if Howard has a big year. I think there’s a real possibility that they could finish worse than 3rd place. I hate to say it, but I don’t see them as a contender until after the changing of the guard.

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