If the Phillies are to make a splash in the free agent market, it certainly seems like it will come at 3B, after they declined a relatively cheap option ($5 million) on Pedro Feliz.
I think it was the right move, and with the market for 3B fairly robust, it gives us a chance to fill the one hole we had in our line-up in the playoffs this season.
In this post, I will detail 8 options the Phillies have as a replacement. 7 are free agents, and 1 (Garrett Atkins) is an obvious trade option. There are likely to be other trade options out there (Brandon Inge?), but I’m just going to stick with Atkins, who is absolutely on the market.
I’ve put together charts of the last 3 years of performance for each player. The 2 stats at the end are UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating, a defensive stat) and EqBRR (Equivalent Base Running Runs, a base-running stat). After a brief summary of the player, I will share what I would offer them contract-wise (or trade wise) if I was Amaro. The players are ranked in alphabetical order and I will rank them in order of my preference at the bottom.
Atkins was relegated to the bench for most of the year last season due to emergence of Ian Stewart. The Rockies see Stewart as their 3B of the future and are definitely looking to trade Atkins. In fact, one article said they might even release him if they can’t trade him as he would probably make upwards of $7-$8 million in arbitration. Atkins performed very poorly in a mostly back-up role last season, sporting a .650 OPS, over 40 points worse than the departing Feliz. If we were to trade for him, I wouldn’t expect a return to the 2007-08 Atkins, given that he would be departing from Coors Field, is 2 years older, and was already showing a downward trend. His defense is below average at 3B, as is his baserunning. I think he would end up as an upgrade over Feliz offensively and a downgrade defensively. On the positive side, he would only be a 1-year arbitration contract and wouldn’t cost us anything past 2010.
What I would trade for him: Not much, to be honest. Atkins could have a renaissance in Philly in a low-pressure situation and playing every day again, but I wouldn’t offer the Rockies good players based on that assumption. Maybe someone like Johan Flande or Drew Carpenter and a C-level prospect.
Beltre is an interesting option. He is a tremendous defender, younger than you think, and has more pop than anyone on this list. He would be a top choice for sure if I was confident he could stay healthy. Every single time I’ve seen him play he’s been battling some sort of ailment and he missed 50 games last year. Add to this that his performance in the games he did play last year left a lot to be desired, and he’s no sure thing. There are a lot of things I like about him though – the defense is a big plus, and his power numbers came primarily in a big time pitchers’ park. He is an above average base runner and is young enough that he should have several years left in him.
What I would offer: 2 years, $15 million with a team option for a 3rd year. I more confident that Beltre can bounce back than I am about Atkins. He is a big-time talent who does a lot of the little things right. He is an upgrade over Feliz defensively, on the basepaths and with the bat, you are just taking a risk that he could get hurt.
DeRosa is a player the Phillies have been linked to a couple of times in the last few years. He’s versatile and a solid hitter though leaves something to be desired on defense. Like a couple of other players on this list, he is coming off an injury and just had wrist surgery a couple weeks ago. He is expected to be ready for spring training. Despite the injury, he is one of the safest bets on this list. I really like his on-base percentages in 2007-08. If could get back to that form, he would be a huge asset for us.
What I would offer: 2 years, $14 million with a team option for a 3rd year. He doesn’t have the upside that Beltre has and would be a step down on defense, but he’s a safe pick-up, would easily mesh with our guys and can play multiple positions.
Figgins is the name on this list that will likely garner the most interest and the highest contract. He was really good for the Angels last season, sporting a .395 OBP (7th in the AL) and flashing an elite glove at 3B. Unlike the other guys on this list, he has virtually no power, is capable of stealing 40+ bases and is a top base-runner. He’s not exactly in his prime, but with a short swing, he is less likely to regress quickly. I would love to see Figgins in the lead-off or 2nd spot for the Phillies given his OBP and baserunning skills. You could then drop Victorino or Rollins down to #7 in a more run-producing role.
What I would offer: 3 years, $25 million with incentives that could bring it up to $30 million. Figgins getting on base in front of Utley, Howard and Ibanez would be a great sight and his addition would only improve our already stellar defense and base-running. He is the only player on this list I would guarantee 3 years to, but if the rumors of 4 year, $40 million contract demands are true, I’ll take a pass.
Glaus will be mentioned because of his 2008 season and above average defense, but signing him just reeks of Freddy Garcia to me. I just don’t see him staying healthy at this point.
What I would offer: 1 year, $4 million with incentives that could bring it to $7 million.
Another guy that I want no part of, but will be mentioned. You don’t sign 38-year olds who showed a sharp decline the year prior.
What I would offer: Nothing, I’d offer 1 year, $4 million to Feliz.
*- defensive data is for 2B
Who knows whether Polanco would switch over to 3B full time at this point in his career, but in my opinion, he should have already been playing there for us for the last several years. Polanco is a professional hitter who doesn’t strike out (only 46 K’s in 618 AB last season), but he has declined in BA, OBP and SLG% each of the last 2 years. He’s an upgrade offensively, but he’s not a big impact guy.
What I would offer: 2 years, $15 million with a team option for a 3rd year. Same as Beltre and DeRosa. He would have a similar impact to those 2 guys with less power but minimal frustration. The unknown would be how he plays 3B full time.
*- defensive data is for SS
Tejada was tremendous last year for the Astros. He doesn’t hit as many HRs as he used to, but he has turned them into doubles, which he led the NL in in 2008. He’s a fierce competitor and could probably make the switch to 3B as many SS’s have done later in their career. Like DeRosa, I think he is a great fit for this team given his work ethic and competitive nature. Like Polanco, he doesn’t strike out (only 48 last year), but he also doesn’t walk (only 19 in 2008!).
What I would offer: 2 years, $19 million. I think Tejada has 2 good years left in him, and I would love to see them in Philly in the 7-spot. This is the same contract Bobby Abreu just signed with the Angels. I think he is the best pure hitter on this list and like many great hitters, will be able to hit in his late 30′s.
So who is the best choice?
Given the options above, and the contracts I would offer (I realize I am probably low on many of them, but given that Bobby Abreu’s last 2 contracts, I don’t think they are unrealistic) – here is how I would rank my preferences based on the value of the contract and the player.
Guys I’d Be Happy With…
1. Miguel Tejada (2 years, $19 million)
2. Mark DeRosa (2 years, $14 million)
3. Chone Figgins (3 years, $25 million)
Guys I’d Be OK With…
4. Adrian Beltre (2 years, $15 million)
5. Placido Polanco (2 years, $15 million)
6. Garrett Atkins (1 year, $8 million and 2 prospects)
7. Troy Glaus (1 year, $4 million)
8. Melvin Mora (Re-sign Feliz)
So that’s what I think – what do you guys think? Who is your top choice? Who would you pay more or less for? What other options would you pursue?