Patrick Corbin was the third-best free agent this offseason and he’s now off the board.
You know who the top two are, so we’re not going to go too far down the Bryce Harper-Manny Machado road in this post.
Instead, let’s take a look at the rest of the free-agent market the weekend before the Winter Meetings begin in Las Vegas.
Here are the top 10:
1. OF A.J. Pollock
Pollock is the top outfielder in the tier below Harper. When healthy, he’s a .280-.300 hitter with power and elite baserunning. Since 2013, he’s 102 for 123 stealing bases.
The issue is he’s rarely healthy. Since 2014, Pollock has played 469 games and missed 341. That’s a five-year span in which he’s missed 42% of games. It’s going to be tough for any team, even one that misses out on Harper, to commit a long, expensive contract to Pollock.
There’s been no indication the Phillies want Pollock, but the market for outfielders like Pollock, Michael Brantley, Nick Markakis and Andrew McCutchen probably won’t develop until the picture becomes clearer with Harper.
If the Phils do pursue Pollock at some point, a short deal with a higher annual average value would suit them more. The Mets are reportedly after Pollock in addition to Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. The Mets are doing more than anyone expected.
2. LHP Dallas Keuchel
The Phillies’ interest in J.A. Happ is known, but their interest in Keuchel is unclear. More here on what Keuchel could cost, what he still does well and the ways he’s declined.
3. OF Michael Brantley
After Machado and Harper, Brantley is the free-agent hitter I like the most. He’s a perennial .290-.300 hitter who does major damage against righties and never strikes out. You can bat him anywhere from second through sixth.
Think about a Phillies lineup like this:
1. Jean Segura, SS
2. Manny Machado, 3B
3. Michael Brantley, LF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Odubel Herrera, RF
6. Roman Quinn, CF
7. Jorge Alfaro, C
9. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Even if the Phils get Machado in addition to Segura, the lineup would still be pretty thin 7 through 9. Adding a third quality hitter would go a long way. It would also give the Phils’ lineup myriad skills, from power and plate selection to high-contact rates and some speed.
There is a report out that Brantley is seeking a deal similar to Carlos Santana’s three-year, $60 million. Doesn’t mean he’ll end up getting it. A fair price for Brantley seems like three years, $48 million, but several teams are interested so the cost could rise.
4. RHP Craig Kimbrel
The best closer on the market, and Adam Ottavino isn’t far behind, but the Phillies’ big bullpen addition will almost surely be a lefty. Zach Britton and Andrew Miller are the two standouts.
5. RHP Charlie Morton
6. LHP J.A. Happ
I got a good question on Twitter Wednesday: Would the Phillies be better off with Corbin, or with both Happ and Morton?
Short-term, assuming health for all three, give me Happ and Morton over Corbin. There’s just more value in two pitchers who can give you 170+ solid innings than one who can give you 210, unless you’re one ace away from a World Series.
Morton, like seemingly every pitcher who’s gone to Houston the last four years, improved vastly with the Astros and missed more bats in 2018 than ever before.
Happ, 36, will likely get a two-year deal. Morton might get one year with an option, given his age (35) and injury history.
7. C Yasmani Grandal
8. C Wilson Ramos
Would love to see Ramos back here but don’t think it happens. The Phillies have other fish to fry, want even more from Jorge Alfaro in 2019, and can’t feel great about Ramos’ ability to stay on the field.
Grandal will find a starting job somewhere. He won’t want to sign with a team playing him half the time.
Either way, the Phils are much more likely in 2019 to have a veteran back up Alfaro.
9. OF Andrew McCutchen
Similar thoughts to Brantley, but McCutchen is closer to the finish line. The line drives and plate selection are still there but the power is fading. McCutchen hits so many sharp ground balls right at the shortstop or third baseman. But, hey, if he lingers on the market and can be had for one year and an option, he’d make a whole lot of sense in this Phillies outfield, pushing one of Herrera-Quinn-Williams into more of a fourth outfielder role.
10. Utilityman Marwin Gonzalez
He can play every defensive position other than catcher and center field and he can do it well. He has power and could be a starter or supersub.
But Gonzalez is more of a final piece for a World Series contender than a guy a team in the Phillies’ position should prioritize.
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