The Offseason That Awaits

Times were a bit tough for the Phillies in the 2012-13 offseason. A subpar season followed up with smaller-scale moves designed to give the team years of control in some areas and stopgaps in others isn’t the best way to build hype and excitement, but that’s the state of the union right now. Now that the dust has (likely) settled, these potential pitfalls still remain: four players are making $20 million or more, the farm is thin, numerous players have considerable injury concerns, the bullpen and bench are uncertain and the outfield is anybody’s guess.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln…

But yet, in spite of all that, this offseason’s frustrations and walking-on-eggshells approach pales in comparison to the difficult decisions that await after the 2013 season concludes.

Impending Free Agents

The following players are set to hit free agency after the coming season:

*Halladay has a vesting option that’s unlikely to kick in. According to Cot’s, he needs to pitch 258.2 IP to meet the 415 combined 2012-13 IP requirement and avoid the DL.

Of course, the possibility always exists that an extension could be worked out, whether it happens before, during or after the season. With a weak farm, Halladay, Ruiz and Utley appear to be more competitive choices moving forward, although each comes with their own set of risks and an uncertain price tag. If the squad isn’t competitive, is maintaining a high payroll viable? Consider the in-house heirs apparent for the big three of that group:

Others who might be missing from those lists are likely too far away to make an impact in 2014, should those respective players leave. Now, looking at that, the Phillies clearly can’t expect to field a competitive squad relying solely on options that are currently team property. Free agent options aren’t great either; Brian McCann and Robinson Cano headline potential catcher and second base free agents, but neither seems likely to hit the market.

Potential Trade Assets

The Phillies experienced their first foray into the seller’s market under Ruben Amaro’s guidance when Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino were dealt prior to the 2012 non-waiver deadline, with Joe Blanton following not long after. Should 2013 not represent a fairly substantial improvement, and should the front office deem this roster in need of a bigger overhaul (which is feasible), more trades could come. What do the Phillies have that could be of value, that could net pieces that would facilitate a faster transition or rebuild?

Lee’s name was already tossed about briefly after the Dodgers put a claim in on him last summer, as well as that wonderful one-sided internal discussion of being dealt for Justin Upton more recently. He would likely fetch the most value, but this list is not devoid of potential asset grabbers.

On the flip side, should the Phils find themselves in buying mode, their lower-tier farm system has little left to fetch a prize. Jesse Biddle, the best of the bunch, projects as a No. 3 starter with a shot at No. 2, which is not conducive to making another big acquisition, even though he seems likely to crack a few top 100 lists.

The Conclusion

One way or another, the Phillies are primed for an interesting season and denouement. Most of the viability of any of those names either being extended or traded depends, obviously, on health and production. Value is reflexive based on those things. The linchpins are Halladay and Utley, but if Ruiz can replicate his 2012 production, his net worth as an affordable rental may never get higher.

None of this is set to be moved to the front burner, but as the calendar pages turn, you can bet the brass will have next winter on their minds more and more.

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13 comments

  1. JM

    January 15, 2013 12:15 PM

    With the lack of depth at SS at the major league level, wouldn’t Rollins be at his highest trade value now? The Phillies have Galvis to play defense, and Revere to lead off. Could J-Roll be used to get us a corner outfielder?

  2. Ryan Sommers

    January 15, 2013 01:00 PM

    JM, J-Roll’s bat itself has value, especially if you’re considering Galvis as his everyday replacement, since it’s questionable if his bat could hold that up. Revere is “lead-off” in the sense that he has good contact skills, but his OBP is arguably even less suited for it than Rollins’. At this point, anyway, I don’t see obvious suitors for Rollins with a good corner outfield return.

    As for next offseason, I consider Utley and Halladay must-extends, unless Halladay’s shoulder is completely ruined

  3. Pencilfish

    January 15, 2013 01:13 PM

    If Ruiz can replicate his 2012 production, his net worth to the Phillies may be higher than what can be fetched in a trade, especially if the Phillies are in the hunt for a playoff spot. If we trade him, who is the starting catcher at the NLDS? Eric Kratz?

  4. Richard

    January 15, 2013 01:50 PM

    Pencilfish, note this sentence, from the post:

    “Should 2013 not represent a fairly substantial improvement, and should the front office deem this roster in need of a bigger overhaul (which is feasible), more trades could come.”

  5. Phillie697

    January 15, 2013 02:21 PM

    If we are in contention, NOBODY is getting traded. I would have thought that would be obvious.

  6. Pencilfish

    January 15, 2013 03:21 PM

    My bad, but I still believe trading Ruiz (assuming he produces near his 2012 level) is not a good idea, period. We still need a catcher with good all-around skills in 2014, and there are no credible alternatives in the roster or in the minors today. A trade should be considered if: 1) RAJ tries to sign him to a short-term (1 or 2 years?) extension, and the two sides are too far apart, or 2) the team implodes in 2013 and RAJ decides to rebuild, so we might as well bring up Joseph and/or Valle during the summer.

    Phillie697, if we are in contention in late July, I hope RAJ does make some trades (from the 40-man roster or from the minors) to help down the stretch. That’s what any good GM would do. Blanket, iron-clad statements like “NOBODY” gets traded is not in the team’s best interests, now or in July.

  7. Phillie697

    January 15, 2013 04:37 PM

    I also assumed that when I said “NOBODY” that meant the players aforementioned in the article. Perhaps I assume too much that reading and writing take into account context.

  8. Cam1LE

    January 15, 2013 05:16 PM

    Speculation on the upcoming 2013 season has surely been based on the sad 1st half of 2012. Keep in mind that the Phils had the 6th best record in the second half (or more specific the last 2 months). This was on the heels of a returning trio of injured players (Roy, Ryan and Chase). While true, they are a year older, this team if healthy isn’t going to collapse. If the starting 8 are Ruiz (-25 games) Ryan, Chase, Jroll, Young, Ruf, Revere and Dom..overall, they’re no worse than they were the 2nd half of 2012. With Doc, Ryan (100% healthy in 2013 vs 70% ?? in 2012) and Chase, the team will be competitive. If Ruf still hits and Dom breaks out, we may have a pleasant surprise. Does anyone in their right mind think Lee wins his first game in June??

  9. Phillie697

    January 15, 2013 05:36 PM

    @Cam1LE,

    While I generally agree (which Phillies fan wouldn’t?), it is also not out of the realm of possibilities that all of those things you mentioned go wrong and, given the general age of this group, it would be criminal not to talk about what we should do in the event that happens; the “we’ll always have next year” isn’t exactly something we should rely on with this group anymore.

  10. Pencilfish

    January 15, 2013 06:07 PM

    Phillie697,
    Yes, I assumed the NOBODY meant the players mentioned in the article, but there are many names there: star players (Halladay, Howard, etc), role players (Nix, Kendrick, Lannan, etc) and minor leaguers (Galvis, Cloyd, etc) besides other starters such as Ruiz and Young. NOBODY covers a lot of people in this case.

  11. LTG

    January 15, 2013 08:08 PM

    Funny. I projected that the scope of the universal quantifier in ‘nobody’ as uttered by Phillie contained only players on the 25-man roster making a significant contribution to the team’s success. That is usually the protected class of players when teams are in competition and making trades.

  12. Cheesecrop

    January 16, 2013 12:16 PM

    Can anyone say “Wheeze Kids”?

    In all honesty, I think that, on the 30th anniversary of that particular group, the Phils have unwittingly set the stage for a modern “Wheeze Kids” run at the 2013 Division crown.

    I still hold out for a Wild Card spot, & I think we’ve as good a shot as anyone, providing that everything come as close to falling in place as possible. We still have three pitchers who can give us double digit wins (w/a potential 4th in Kendrick), & a lineup that has at least three 20+ homer guys (Howard, Utley, Rollins).

    If we can get 20 Hr’s & 75 R.B.I. combined from Ruiz/Kratz, something close to that from Mayberry/Nix??? (if that’s the way it breaks), something from Ruf (don’t know what to expect), & Papelbon/Adams solidifies the 8th/9th inning, we Can claim one of the wild-card spots.

    From there on, it’s a crap shoot…

  13. Phillie697

    January 16, 2013 12:45 PM

    Someone just used Kyle Kendrick and “double digit wins” in the same sentence. Someone please shoot me now.

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